Issued by Pyrotec - Apr 23rd, 14:02
The news across the globe about South Africa’s calamitous listeriosis outbreak continues to make headlines. By March 26, 982 laboratory-confirmed listeriosis cases across the country were reported to NICD since the beginning of January 2017, and 189 deaths recorded.
With the continued threat and reality of foodborne illnesses and product recalls, food safety remains a priority for consumers and food chain, manufacturers. While South Africa may have identified the source of the listeria outbreak, the human and economic cost, as well as damage to brand reputation is extensive.
Coding and marking are essential for providing information on products, labels, and packaging. ‘Brand owners incorporate marks or codes onto their products or packaging to protect themselves and consumers by ensuring security throughout the supply chain,’ explains Pyrotec PackMark's general manager, Brandon Pearce. ‘It also makes traceability possible, providing a record of reliability for products, and makes efficient stock control possible.’ For consumers, ‘best by' and 'use by' dates confirm that the product is safe to consume. These markings also help consumers to derive the most value from their purchases and reduce food waste.
However, for coding and marking to be effective it needs to be error free and despite automated production lines, human error is inevitable. In addition to its world-class coding and marking equipment, Markem-Imaje's CoLOS software, exclusively distributed in southern Africa by Pyrotec PackMark, reduces human error through centralised data management that links, manages and operates all printers across packaging lines,’ Brandon explains.
‘CoLOS offers real-time data by linking the production plan to individual end-of-line packing machines. This increases the productivity visibility of each machine, provides more accurate scheduling, and downtime information lets operators identify the causes of machine errors. It also provides accurate performance reporting and, importantly, automates coding information to avoid the risk of operator error,’ notes Brandon.
The reporting benefits of CoLOS software are impressive, and supervisors have access to production statuses at any time, immediately providing live updates of any issues on the line.
Packaging Line Traceability (PLT) solutions such as CoLOS are scalable and can transform coding and marking at any level of a line (units, trays, cases or pallets). Alternatively, it can be integrated into the complete packaging line from units to pallets.
‘Correctly coded, marked and labelled products limit recalls, save money and time, protect consumers and manufacturers, discourage counterfeiting, and ensure advanced traceability throughout the entire supply chain,’ he concludes.
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Many South African brand owners don’t make optimal use of their packaging and labelling space. This is not only prime real estate where brands can communicate with consumers but also a mandatory platform for the pharmaceutical sector, for example, to clearly display dosage instructions and contra-indications.
Unlike other printing technology, continuous inkjet (CIJ) printers operate at low cost because they run for many hours before requiring a service.
While South Africa may be slightly behind the curve, blockchain for packaging, AR and smart sensors are setting trends abroad. However, while they’re creating much interest, these technologies are still developing. It may take time for consumers to understand the value of this on-pack communication approach – and readily accept it. Until then, it is worth keeping an eye on these smart packaging developments.
The Age of Agile is the title of Steve Denning’s most recent book that describes a shift in business to adopt an agile mindset for management, leadership, innovation and narrative.