the essential, no-nonsense guide to compliance labeling

THE ESSENTIAL, NO-NONSENSE GUIDE
TO COMPLIANCE LABELING
THE ESSENTIAL, NO-NONSENSE GUIDE TO COMPLIANCE LABELING
INTRODUCTION
One of your customers has asked you to start applying bar code labels on the cartons you ship to them.
To make matters worse, they have even set a date by
which your company must comply.
You are now faced with a choice: meet the request or
lose a valued customer. Let’s assume your company
decides to implement a bar code labeling system.
Where do you start? Let us show you. The following
pages give you an easy-to-follow road map that puts
you on the right path to developing a successful bar
code labeling system.
1
WHY ARE
THEY ASKING
FOR BAR
CODE LABELS?
Your customer wants to or sees the need to automate
their receiving, routing and warehouse systems. Bar
codes reduce occurrences of lost or misplaced shipments by minimizing errors in receiving. Automated
data capture improves the accuracy and speed of data
entry. Traditional manual key entry of data yields one
error in every 300 characters. Conversely, scanning
bar code data greatly improves accuracy with
one error for every 3,000,000 characters entered.
It’s an easy choice to make: automatic identification
provides the user with complete, accurate and timely
information.
WHY A STANDARD?
Standards ensure that all of the players in the manufacturing pipeline—manufacturers, distributors,
retailers and service providers—comply with one
guideline that clearly defines label format, usage and
information. Standards also specify the use of mandatory data fields and optional data fields, acceptable
bar code symbologies, print quality minimums and
environmental considerations.
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THE ESSENTIAL, NO-NONSENSE GUIDE TO COMPLIANCE LABELING
A standard can be created by the customer or follow
the formal guidelines of an association, such as the
Automotive Industry Action Group (AIAG) or the
Electronics Industry Association (EIA). The key
point to compliance labeling is that you agree to
follow your customer’s shipping specification or
standard. A shipping specification or guideline provides a standard method of identifying containers
shipped from one trading partner to another.
Shipments with customer-required bar code labels
can be processed rapidly and efficiently at the customer’s receiving dock.
WHERE TO START?
The first thing you will need to do is obtain a copy of
the specification from your customer along with an
implementation guide, if available. The implementation guide will clarify the technical information
supplied in the specification. You should also find out
if the customer is offering educational programs or
services to help implement the bar code project.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE STANDARDS?
There are many standards in use today. We will
highlight six of the most common bar code shipping
label formats used in the automotive, computing,
electronics, retail and telecommunications industries.
These label formats result from bar code shipping
standards that the industry trade associations listed
on the following page have developed for their
members.
3
AEROSPACE
The Air Transportation Association of America (ATA)
includes air carriers of passengers or cargo. The ATA
established SPEC 2000 (www.spec2000.com) to meet
the aerospace industry’s needs for standardized,
accurate, automated, procurement and repair transactions for aircraft maintenance.
SPEC 2000 defines three bar code applications:
shipping labels for customer and repair agency receipt
processes, and permanent parts identification (for
“cradle-to-grave” tracking of serialized parts). The
SPEC 2000 Permanent Bar Code Parts Identification
standard
allows
the
use
of
multiple
bar code symbologies, depending on the application.
For very small parts, the 2D Data Matrix bar code
symbology was approved in June 1998.
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THE ESSENTIAL, NO-NONSENSE GUIDE TO COMPLIANCE LABELING
AUTOMOTIVE
The Automotive Industry Action Group (AIAG)
was founded in 1982 by Daimler Chrysler, Ford, and
General Motors to develop process solutions for
the automotive industry. The group has worked to
impose the use of standardized product labels on all
products shipped from Tiered suppliers to automaker
facilities.
2D barcodes, particularly PDF-417 and Maxicode,
are favored over linear codes in many applications
because they enable more data to be stored in a
smaller mark area, have high data efficiency, lowcontrast readability (for improved scanning rates)
and error-correction capability.
5
COMPUTING
The Computing Technologies Industry Association
(CompTIA) includes retailers, distributors and
manufacturers such as MicroAge, Ingram Micro,
Hewlett-Packard and Epson. The UCC/EAN
Application Standard for Shipping Container Codes
(ANSI/UCC 6-1996) and the UCC Universal Product
Code: Industrial and Commercial Guidelines are
used for three primary applications: product label,
master pallet label and shipping label.
Below is an example of an SSCC-18 (Serial Shipping
Container Code).
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THE ESSENTIAL, NO-NONSENSE GUIDE TO COMPLIANCE LABELING
ELECTRONICS
Electronics Industries Alliance (EIA) members
produce various electronics parts. Member companies include AT&T, Texas Instruments, IBM,
Phillips Semiconductor and Motorola. The EIA has
developed the EIA-556-B (Nov 1999) Outer Shipping
Container Bar Code Label Standard. Multiple format
conbinations are acceptable within this standard.
Below is an example of an EIA shipping label:
7
RETAIL
Since the early 1990s, retail department chain stores
like K-Mart and Wal-Mart imposed compliance
labeling formats on all of their suppliers for any
product shipped to them for resale. Specific
information on the vendor, part number, description,
quantity, and source are examples of required
compliance labeling information formatted into a
consistent pattern on a bar code label.
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THE ESSENTIAL, NO-NONSENSE GUIDE TO COMPLIANCE LABELING
TELECOMMUNICATIONS
The Telecommunications Industry Forum (TCIF)
and Alliance for Telecommunications Industry
Solutions (ATIS) are composed of telecommunications-related companies and their suppliers. These
member companies include AT&T, the Regional Bell
Operating Companies, MCI Communications, GTE
Supply, Bellcore and 3M Telecom.
Below is an example of a TLC 39 format for
CLEI coding applications to comply with new TCIF
regulations.
9
WHO NEEDS TO
BE INVOLVED?
EVERYONE!
The implementation of a bar code labeling project
needs input and assistance from several departments
including MIS, shipping and purchasing, plus key
upper-management personnel. Without the support of
top management, the project will have difficulty
succeeding.
The bar code project manager needs to bring everyone together and review the labeling project. She/he
also needs to explain the benefits of bar coding and
why this project is important to the company.
Additionally, the manager must gain consensus from
each department and outline the role each is expected
to take. Finally, an implementation schedule must be
created that clearly links key responsibilities and
deadlines with specific departments. If any one
department fails to meet a deadline, the project can
quickly derail, causing costly delays.
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THE ESSENTIAL, NO-NONSENSE GUIDE TO COMPLIANCE LABELING
WHICH
PRINTING
TECHNOLOGY
IS BEST?
Several on-site printing technologies can be used to
generate compliance shipping labels. If the customer
does not recommend a printing method, there are
three popular choices: thermal transfer, laser and dot
matrix.
Thermal
Transfer
Laser
Dot Matrix
200 DPI
400 DPI
70 DPI
Is one better than the others? The answer is yes!
To understand why, let’s take a brief look at each.
Thermal Transfer: A
economical technology
high-quality,
rugged,
Compare the bar codes illustrated above. The thermal
transfer bars look the best, not only to the human eye,
but to the scanner as well. The printhead contains
many tiny, resistive dots that provide the heat necessary to cause the ribbon ink to melt and transfer to the
11
media substrate (label) that moves under the printhead. Bar code edges are crisp and sharp, since the
“dot” is rectangular or square.
Thermal transfer inks contain chemical binders that
provide exceptional image stability, especially in wet
or abrasive environments. Sharp edge definition, high
print contrast signal (PCS) and high resolution printing capabilities coupled with conventional roll-fed
media handling have made thermal transfer printing
the “technology of choice” for bar code shipping
label applications.
Laser printers: High cost, limited performance
Lasers have made their office printing mark, using
heat and pressure to fuse toner directly to paper, much
like a photocopier. The result is high resolution output that looks fine on memos and correspondence.
However, laser printing produces bar codes with an
inferior edge definition. They are granular when compared to thermal transfer printing and could result in
images that are more difficult to scan.
Laser printing costs can be high. Toner, drum and
laser-matched label costs need to be evaluated when
printing bar codes versus regular text. While text
requires only about 5% black coverage, bar code
printing can exceed 30% coverage. Your toner costs
alone could be six times what you expect if you’re
accustomed to laser costs for text-only applications.
In contrast, thermal transfer costs remain the same
whether you print 5% or 95% black.
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THE ESSENTIAL, NO-NONSENSE GUIDE TO COMPLIANCE LABELING
Generally speaking, most laser printers are built for a
very limited duty cycle. In fact, most specifications
list a 25% duty cycle. In addition, desktop laser printers are made to operate in controlled office environments. Place them at a shipping or receiving dock
where temperatures may vary and where dust and dirt
are prevalent, and you could experience some noticeable performance fall-offs.
Dot Matrix: Questionable image scannability
While dot matrix printers are well-suited for form
printing, they cannot produce the dense data fields
and bar codes within the print quality guidelines
required by many end users. Dot matrix printers use
pins or hammers that fire against a multi-strike nylon
ribbon to produce a single dot or a line of dots on an
underlying substrate. The ribbons typically are saturated with wet ink, which can spread or bloom as it is
absorbed by the paper fibers. New ribbons produce
very dark bar codes, but the bar codes become lighter
and lighter with each pass of the ribbon, eventually
resulting in poor quality and unscannable bar codes.
In short, you should consider print quality, perlabel supplies costs, maintenance requirements,
printer reliability and industrial suitability when
selecting a print technology.
13
LABEL
FORMATTING
Creating a label that includes bar codes means being
able to send label design commands to a printer
in that printer’s native programming language.
Fortunately, label preparation software is available to
make designing and printing labels a simple process.
Be sure to choose a software package that supports
your printer brand, or choose a printer with an ASCII
based language like ZPL® (Zebra Programming
Language) for programming flexibility and optimal
performance.
Bar code printers can be connected to a variety of
host computers ranging from a standalone PC to a
LAN/WAN, AS/400, HP-3000 or IBM twinax or coax
system. Unless you use a PC to “host” your printer’s
network connection, you’ll need an Ethernet
(network) connection via an optional print server.
Label design and connectivity software such as
BAR-ONE® enables you to connect your bar code
printer to most enterprise-wide software solutions.
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THE ESSENTIAL, NO-NONSENSE GUIDE TO COMPLIANCE LABELING
A WORD
ABOUT SUPPLIES
WHAT DO YOU MEAN
“THE LABEL FELL OFF?”
If a label falls off in-transit or is unscannable, your
customer will not be able to process the shipment
using his/her automatic identification equipment.
Depending on the customer, the potential charges for
this mishap can range from $1 per box to $10,000 per
occurrence.
To ensure that the printed labels perform as required,
material suitability tests should be conducted before
making the system operational. Analyze the labeling
application by reviewing the following questions:
• Where will the labels be used?
• How long must the labels last?
• To what must the labels adhere?
• What temperatures must the labels withstand?
• Will the labels be subject to abrasion?
Once you clearly understand the material specifications and the application performance requirements,
you are ready to develop testing procedures. To start,
apply several dozen printed labels to the surface(s)
that will be labeled. Subject the labels to all of the
environmental stresses they might encounter during
their life cycle. By conducting thorough, repeatable
evaluations, you can avoid potentially costly label
performance problems.
15
I’M READY TO PRINT MY LABELS,
NOW WHAT?
Now comes the time you will send printed label samples to your customer for approval. First, find out how
many labels and which formats the customer wants to
evaluate. The evaluation can take several weeks, so
waiting until the last minute to submit the labels is not
recommended.
The customer’s evaluation will be based on a set standard of criteria. The label must:
• Be of acceptable bar code print quality
• Follow the format outlined in the standard
• Show correct label and field dimensions, text
and bar code sizes
• Meet environmental and physical property
requirements
The customer will measure overall bar code print
quality using verification equipment. You will want to
use a verification product at your facility to ensure
that you are consistently printing labels that comply
with the customer’s requirements. Verifiers evaluate
bar code scannability along with the “X” dimension,
start and stop patterns, dimensional tolerance and
print contrast signal (PCS). Labels will be scanned by
the verification equipment and must achieve a grading of “C” or better based on the ANSI Print Quality
Guidelines.
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THE ESSENTIAL, NO-NONSENSE GUIDE TO COMPLIANCE LABELING
Don’t expect immediate success. The majority of
labels evaluated for a new shipping application do
not pass the first time. Some of the most common
label errors range from not having a manufacturer or
vendor identification number to an incorrect label
format or an improperly used Data or Application
Identifier. If your labels are not approved the first
time, you need to make the changes the customer
recommends and resubmit the labels.
FIND AND CORRECT LABEL PROBLEMS
BEFORE YOUR CUSTOMER DISCOVERS THEM!
Now that the labels have been approved, you can take
a vacation, right? Wrong! You spent a lot of time and
energy putting this project together. Now is the time
to create a quality assurance (QA) program to ensure
your company is consistently producing quality bar
code labels.
The quality assurance program should incorporate the
same testing and evaluation procedures that the
customer uses. The bar codes printed today might
not be accepted tomorrow. Things happen: incorrect
label stock or ribbons are purchased or loaded.
Preventative maintenance procedures are not
followed, causing print quality to degrade. The
customer’s specifications changed without notice.
17
To be successful, a quality assurance program should
contain the following:
• Maintain monthly or quarterly customer contact
to determine if any changes are required.
• Keep internal procedures up to date to address
problems or new customer requests.
• Establish ongoing bar code label verification
procedures for daily or weekly evaluations.
• Maintain records of the testing and evaluation
results.
• Institute testing procedures for incoming supplies.
• Implement a printer training program for new
employees.
• Institute printer preventative maintenance
procedures.
Remember, a company’s image is reflected in the
quality of the bar code.
Now that the compliance shipping project is up and
running, contact your other customers and offer to bar
code shipments to them. Not only will it improve the
business relationship, it will give your company a
competitive advantage. It also shows that your company is interested in helping its clients. By offering
industry-specific label formats to your customers
before they create their own, you will reduce future
headaches for both of you.
You Win, Everybody Wins!
18
THE ESSENTIAL, NO-NONSENSE GUIDE TO COMPLIANCE LABELING
CALL ZEBRA, YOUR EXPERIENCED SOURCE
FOR COMPLIANCE LABELING SOLUTIONS
When you’re thinking about implementing a compliance labeling project, give us a call. Zebra is the
leading supplier of thermal transfer bar code labeling
solutions worldwide. We provide the preferred
technology for compliance labeling applications in
the automotive, computing, electronics, retail and
telecommunications industries.
Our network of international “System Integrators”
provides you with an uncommon range of resources
and expertise. Their broad knowledge of auto
identification equipment ranges from printers and
suppliers to scanners and verification products. Our
partners have complete applications expertise. They
will assess your software requirements and recommend the most cost-effective method, whether it’s a
PC label design package or a full-blown Electronic
Data Interchange application. Our partners are
committed to providing you with a totally integrated
system without inconvenience or complications.
One phone call starts you on the road to compliance
shipping. For the name of the Zebra partner in
your area, please contact Zebra Technologies
at 1-800-423-0442. Or contact us on the Internet at
http://www.zebra.com.
19
ADDITIONAL RESOURCES
Computing Technologies Industry
Association (CompTIA)
Air Transport Association of
America, Inc.
1815 S. Meyers Rd.
1301 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Suite 1100
Oak Brook Terrace, Illinois 60181
Washington, DC 20004-1707
Phone: +1 202.626.4000
Fax: +1 202.626.4181
http://www.airlines.org
Alliance for Telecommunications
Industry Solutions (ATIS)
Telecommunications Industry
Forum (TCIF)
Suite 300
Phone: +1 630.268.1818
Fax: +1 630.268.1384
http://www.comptia.org
Electronics Industries Alliance (EIA)
Shipping and Receiving Transaction
Bar Code Label Standard
2500 Wilson Blvd.
Arlington, VA 22201
1200 G Street, Suite 500
Phone: +1 703.907.7500
Washington, DC 20005
Fax: +1 703.907.7501
Phone: +1 202.628.6380
http://www.eia.org
Fax: +1 202.393.5453
http://www.atis.org
Uniform Code Council, Inc. (UCC)
Princeton Pike Corporate Center
Automotive Industry Action
Group (AIAG)
1009 Lenox Drive
26200 Lahser Road
Lawrenceville, NJ 08648
Suite 200
Phone: +1 609.620.0200
Southfield, MI 48034
Fax: +1 609.620.1200
Phone: +1 248.358.3570
http://www.uc-council.org
Suite 202
Fax: +1 248.358.3253
http://www.aiag.org
Zebra Technologies Corporation
333 Corporate Woods Parkway
Vernon Hills, Illinois 60061
Phone: +1 847.634.6700
20
Fax: +1 847.913.8766
http://www.zebra.com
Zebra Technologies Corporation
International Headquarters
333 Corporate Woods Parkway
Vernon Hills, IL 60061-3109 U.S.A.
Phone: +1 847.634.6700 or +1 800.423.0442
Fax: +1 847.913.8766
www.zebra.com
Other Locations
United States: California, Florida, Rhode Island,
Wisconsin
Europe: France, Germany, Italy, United Kingdom
Asia-Pacific: Australia, China, Japan, Singapore,
South Korea
Copyright ® 2001
by Zebra Technologies Corporation
All rights reserved including the right to reproduce this guide or portions thereof in any
form, including any information storage and retrieval system.
This booklet is manufactured and printed in the United States of America.
3rd Edition
Zebra P/N 11681L 11/01 1M