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Error proof the labeling process

Labeling is a critical process in manufacturing, healthcare, transportation and retail industry. Items if labeled correctly will reach their destination. But if they are not labeled right then it could result in problems. The nature of problems may vary from a minor discomfort or major stoppages. Mislabeling can result in wrong packages being delivered to customers or wrong treatment given to patients resulting in medical complications.
That is why it is important to error proof the labeling process. This will prevent all labeling errors.
Depending on the level of mistake proofing required in the process of labeling, appropriate poka yokes need to be designed. It is also important to consider all points in the process where a labeling error could occur. A warning about mislabels can be used to make people aware of the problem or help them detect the problem. Eg. Sounding alarms, flashing andon lights when mislabeling occurs The control method would actually prevent the mislabeled item from proceeding further and not allowing it to leave the facility. Eg. Poka yoke devices in this case stop the machine or the line until the labeling error is fixed. Listed below are some ways of label error proofing:

  • Start label error proofing by simply providing dedicated place for labels
  • As proposed by the lean tool 5S there should be a place for everything on the floor including tools and accessories. Provide a dedicated place for labels too. This will reduce time for locating the right labels needed for the parts.
  • Print labels as and when required. Prevent the habit or printing extra labels.
  • Color coding the labels helps identify the correct labels very easily
  • Putting technology to use such as making use of RFID tags and tracking items as they are moving within the facility.
  • Error proofing the labeling process requires a combination of the following:
  • Designing a full proof system that catches all labeling mistakes
  • Training everyone in using this system
  • Stressing the importance of labeling to everyone in the organization
  • Creating a corporate culture where all personnel pay attention to the smallest and simplest step in the process
  • Discipline and attention to detail is ?the? way of doing things throughout the organization
  • Open communication and newer ways of improvement are encouraged by management

Conclusion:

Labeling is an important part of the process in any industry. Whether it is parts being manufactured or patients being treated or packages being shipped, labels tell us where the item is and what is in it. This information is critical and needs to be accurate every time, all the time. Error proofing the labeling process ensures that the right labels are applied to the right items.