What is a label inspection system?

Author: E2M Couth
March 26, 2024

In this digital age, the label inspection system has become a fundamental pillar to guarantee the integrity of end products in multiple industries. By using cutting-edge technologies like artificial vision and automatic learning, which we will discuss later on in this post that E2M COUTH has written, these systems offer a precise and efficient solution to verify the quality of labels in real time.

What is the labelling system?

The labelling system for products is the ensemble of processes, machinery, and software designed to apply labels to products. These systems may consist of manual operations or entirely automated solutions. The choice depends on factors like production volume, the variety of products, and label specifications.

For automated systems, we seek to maximise efficiency and precision with systems that are able to apply labels to a variety of surfaces and shapes at speeds that significantly exceed human capabilities. These solutions tend to integrate into inspection systems in real time, which provides ongoing quality control from printing the label to final application on the product.

What are labels and what do they do?

Labels play a double essential role: to inform and to attract. From an informational perspective, they provide crucial information on the product, like its ingredients, instructions for use, expiry date, or safety warnings. This information is fundamental, especially for the safety and satisfaction of the consumer.

On the other hand, from a marketing perspective, labels are powerful tools to make products stand out and to build the brand. Through the design and information provided, labels con influence the consumer’s perception and purchase decision, highlighting the quality, values, and singularity of the product, in addition to other determining factors.

Technologies in label inspection

On one hand, artificial vision captures detailed images of labels on products, which are analysed by algorithms that identify everything from typographical errors to defects in alignment or colour.

E2M COUTH offers solutions like Contourvision, a label inspector that can use 360º artificial vision, thereby improving production processes.

On the other, automatic learning makes it easy to adapt and constantly improve the system, allowing it to learn from the errors detected and increasing its efficacy over time.

This combination of technologies not only increases the efficiency of label inspection processes, but also significantly reduces the risk of human error, guaranteeing that each product fulfils standards in force and quality expectations before distribution.

When should inspections on labels be conducted?

Product label inspection is an atemporal process since it should be integrated into each stage of production and packing. From verification of printing quality to final inspection of the packaged product, each step provides an opportunity to detect and correct errors before they become future costly issues.

Implementing periodical inspections not only helps to guarantee compliance with product specifications, but also improves operative efficiency by reducing the need to discard what you have made and start over again. This optimises production flow and reduces associated costs.

For these inspections to comply with the utmost guarantee, E2M COUTH offers label inspection solutions like Visiolabel, which can adapt to the requirements of different industries, improving traceability.

Where are label inspections done?

Label inspections are carried out in multiple different settings, each with their own requirements and challenges.

For example, on production lines, automated inspection systems offer a real-time assessment of each product, providing for instant adjustments and reducing interruptions. These systems are essential to maintain continuity and efficiency in large-scale production.

On the other hand, quality laboratories provide a controlled environment to carry out more detailed and specific inspections. In this case, one can use advanced techniques to assess other factors, such as label adhesion, wear resistance, and legibility under different conditions, ensuring that the end product meets the most stringent quality standards.

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Advantages of label inspections

There are many vast and varied advantages to implementing label inspection systems. Beyond the obvious improvement in product quality and error reduction, these systems offer other significant benefits in terms of regulatory compliance, operative efficiency, and customer satisfaction.

By guaranteeing that each product is properly labelled and meets pertinent regulations, companies can avoid costly sanctions and product recalls, all while strengthening their reputation on the market.

What is more, by facilitating traceability and transparency along the supply chain, label inspection systems play a crucial role in building up consumer trust, an invaluable asset in today’s competitive business world.

  1. Increased regulatory compliance: Ensures that all products comply with local and international standards in force.
  2. Reduced costs for re-working and returns: Reduces the need to re-work products or handle returns due to errors in labelling products, which means significant savings on costs and resources.
  3. Improved production efficiency: Optimises workflow on the production line, providing greater speed without sacrificing quality.
  4. Strengthens the brand and consumer trust: Improves brand perception by guaranteeing the exactness and quality of the information on the labels.
  5. Facilitates product traceability: Provides effective tracking for products along the supply chain, improving inventory management and response capacity to possible issues.
  6. Reduced waste: It detects errors quickly, thereby reducing the amount of wasted material and conducting more sustainable production practises.
  7. Improved product safety: By guaranteeing that all safety warnings and recommendations are present and clear on the label.
  8. Quality control optimisation: It provides a systematic method for quality control, thereby improving standardisation of production processes.
  9. Increased data analysis capacity: Data collection during inspections provides a detailed analysis to prevent recurring problems and make decisions based on precise information.

These advantages are just a small display of the importance of label inspection systems in different industries, highlighting their role in improving operative efficiency, regulatory compliance, and customer satisfaction.

How to conduct a label inspection

Label inspection is a crucial process that guarantees precision, compliance, and quality of labels on products. This process takes place over a series of structured steps and with advanced technologies to guarantee the efficacy and efficiency of the inspection. As follows, we provide details on how to effectively conduct a label inspection:

Define inspection criteria

The first step is to establish specific criteria for the inspection, based on each company’s product specifications and quality requirements.

At this point, you must indicate which information will be on the label: product name, ingredients, expiry dates or safety warnings, and quality standards for printing and applying the label: legibility, alignment, and adhesion.

Select inspection method

As stated at the beginning, label inspections can be conducted manually or in automated fashion. While manual inspection is suitable for small-scale operations or upscale products with low production volumes, automated inspection with the aforementioned artificial vision systems is the preferred option for large-scale operations, providing greater precision and efficiency.

Implement artificial vision systems

Artificial vision systems are fundamental for automated label inspection. These systems use specialised software and cameras to capture high-resolution images of the labels on the products and analyse them in real time. The software compares the images it captures with the pre-set inspection criteria to detect all discrepancies and defects, like printing errors, improperly placed or damaged labels, and missing mandatory information.

Conduct inspections at different stages

It is important to conduct label inspections at several different stages during the production and packaging process. Some of the key moments are:

  • Label inspections before application: Verify the quality of the labels before applying them, ensuring that they are free from printing defects and damage.
  • Inspections while applying the label: Supervise the label application process to ensure that they are properly placed on the product, with the correct orientation and alignment.
  • Inspections after application: Check the end product to ensure that the labels are properly applied, and that all information is legible and complete.

Use data management software

Using data management software allows one to collect, store, and analyse results from inspections. This helps to identify trends and recurring problems, as well as areas for improvement in the product labelling process.

As added value to this point, the software can be integrated into production control systems to automate decision-making based on results from the inspection, such as automatic rejection of defective products.

Training and maintenance

Training for staff involved in inspection and ongoing maintenance for the equipment are essential to guarantee that the label inspection process always remains effective. This includes training workers on the proper use of inspection equipment and interpreting results, as well as preventive maintenance to ensure optimum operation for artificial vision systems and other inspection devices.

Checkup and ongoing improvement

Finally, it is important to establish a process for checkup and ongoing improvement, regularly assessing the efficacy of the label inspection process and making adjustments when necessary. This may involve updating inspection criteria, improving artificial vision systems, or modifying the production processes to address any issue you may have identified.

When done effectively, label inspection not only ensures product compliance and quality, but also improves operative efficiency and strengthens consumer trust in the brand.

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What information is mandatory on the label?

The information required on labels can vary depending on the sector and jurisdiction, but it normally includes essential data on the product’s identity, quality, quantity, and safety. In addition to other specific information, you might find the product name, list of ingredients and nutritional information, safety warnings, instructions for use and storage, and traceability information like batch or serial numbers.

Meeting these requirements is not only a legal issue, but also one of responsibility to the consumer, ensuring that they have access to all the information they need to make informed decisions on their purchase.

Impact of technology on label inspection

The integration of advance technologies into inspection systems was a catalyst to transform these processes. The ability to inspect and verify the quality of labels at speeds and with a degree of precision that was unreachable before, has established new standards in quality control.

Moreover, adopting these technologies helps every company to adapt to unpredictable market demands and regulations, offering flexibility and scalability, which are essential in today’s business world.

Challenges in label inspection

Despite all these benefits that label inspection systems offer, companies face certain challenges in implementing and operating them. For example, variability in materials, different label designs, and production conditions.

This all requires highly adaptive solutions that can handle any scenario without sacrificing precision or efficiency. At this point, customisation and the ability to configure the systems play a fundamental role, providing fast and specific adjustments for each kind of product and label.

Moreover, reaching balance between production speed and inspection precision is a constant challenge. Advanced technological solutions, along with effective integration into production management systems, are essential to keep high degrees of efficiency without sacrificing the quality of the inspection.

The best label inspection systems

In order to make the most of all the benefits and overcome these hurdles while maintaining efficiency, more than anything else, companies need inspection systems that are up to the challenge.

E2M COUTH offers a wide range of inspection systems that adapt to different needs in a long list of sectors and for all phases in the industrial process.

Exponentially increase the quality of all your products and improve your production processes and traceability. If you have any questions about these systems and would like more information, please do not hesitate to contact our team of experts. They will be delighted to help and assess you.

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