h. What does “compliance labeling” mean?
Many companies require their suppliers and other trading partners to include a bar code or radio frequency identification (RFID) label on shipments, which is used to sort incoming materials and manage inventory to support the company’s automated systems. Labels produced to meet trading partner requirements are called “compliance labels” because the shipping organization applies the label to comply with a request or demand. Compliance labels usually must follow strictly defined formats for layout, content, bar code symbology, print quality, etc.
i. A customer has asked us to start applying bar code labels to shipments. What should I do?
First, find out which of your facilities and production or packaging lines will be impacted in order to determine the required label volume and the number of printers that will be needed. Determine how the printers will receive the variable information they need from your enterprise system to produce the labels. This step will show the connectivity and networking support required in the printer. Review the compliance specification to understand the required label sizes, fonts, bar code symbologies, and graphics so you can choose an appropriate printer.
Software is also required to design the label formats. Many bar code and RFID label design packages include templates for compliance label formats commonly used in the retail, automotive, aerospace, defense, distribution, and other industries. Make sure the software supports the types of labels you need and the specific model of printer you have chosen. Test the entire system and send label samples to your trading partner for analysis prior to your deadline date for compliance labeling. Many systems integration companies are very experienced with compliance labeling systems and are available to assist with any phase of the project.
j. What kind of materials can be used in bar code printers?
Besides a wide variety of label materials, bar code printers can also print on tag and ticket stock, wristbands, polyester, polypropylene, and other synthetic materials. Different colors are available, but color should be used cautiously because insufficient contrast between bars and the background space will produce unreadable bar codes. Brand protection media is available with overt and covert security features for authentication, counterfeit and diversion deterrence, and secure data encoding. Label media, coatings, and adhesives provide resistance to temperature extremes, moisture, acids, washes, UV exposure, and other hazards to label quality. Thermal printers can also print and encode smart labels, which contain a radio frequency identification (RFID) chip and antenna inlay embedded within the label media.