This kind of request is what we “in the industry” call Compliance Labeling. Your customer is asking you to comply with a requirement to label incoming product. It’s a very common request in the automotive and aerospace industries and is a growing trend in fresh food, pharmaceuticals and other industries that are subject to recalls.
This label can serve a couple of purposes for your customer.
- It makes receiving easier and faster. Their warehouse personnel can scan the barcode to receive product rather than recording and key entering the data into their inventory system.
- It serves as an identifier for lot tracking. The format of the label may include a lot number and other important information such as date produced or picked, weight and carton number.
Your customer should give you the label format that they want you to produce. This may be as simple as your part number (or their part number) and as complex as a GS-1 label (fresh food), an AIAG compliant label (automotive) or a UPC code (retail and groceries). Once you have this format, you will need 3 components in order to print the barcode: Computer + Software + Barcode Printer with media.
In the simplest form, you can use an existing PC, add the label design utility software, purchase a barcode printer with a USB interface – and you’re ready to go.
- Label Design Software: There are several different label design utility software applications. Make sure you get one that has the printer driver you want, and is easy to use and well-supported. Bartender from Seagull Scientific or Design One from Zebra Technologies are two good applications that have been around long enough to be solid programs.
- Barcode Printer and media: Which printer you choose depends primarily on the type and size of label you need to print and the volume you expect to be printing. Look at the volume of labels printed in “bursts” of time rather than over a week. Print speed is in inches per second, so if you print 10,000 labels but they are all in an hour or two, you need a faster printer than if they’re spread out over the week. Let the salesperson you purchase the printer from know what size & type of label you need and they can help. Check out our blog on “It’s All about the Barcode Label – 6 Questions to Help you Decide” for more tips.
If you are getting requests for Compliance Labels from several (or many) customers, you may want to look at a full Inventory and/or Shipping Application that will not only print the labels but keep track of your inventory and verify your shipments at the same time. Ask your customer if they know of a software brand that some of their other vendors are using as a starting point if you want to begin that search. And take your time – it will be a larger investment and you’ll want to do it right the first time.