The supplier monitoring their own quality is the best way to ensure a quality label is printed and applied appropriately to pallet loads. Ask the supplier what their capability is to determine bar code quality. Also ask the supplier what their label application method is and how frequently this system is checked to ensure proper placement of labels.
Based on the supplier response, the plant can begin to determine their own testing program. For suppliers who do not have a system in place for monitoring quality, the plant should expect to provide more checking of label quality and placement. The plant should also be provide the purchasing department with information on this supplier's capability and identifying the importance of the supplier's needed improvement. The supplier's response should be a factor in determining who will be a long term supplier to P&G.
The supplier submits a label which is suppose to meet the label standards. Initial samples can be faxed to make sure proper symbologies are being used, human readable print is of acceptable size, the right information is on the label, and label format is appropriate.
After initial acceptance, an actual label should be sent to the plant for final approval. The commissioning results could be improved by the supplier sending an initial label printed for plant final testing and the 50th label printed. The plant would grade both labels and note any differences in print quality or data acceptability. This would allow commissioning of the printing.
Commissioning of placement can not be done until actual receipts occur. The initial shipment will be the first opportunity for the plant to monitor proper placement of labels. These shipments should be checked closely to ensure the proper data is on the labels, the UCC/EAN-128 bar codes all match on a given pallet load, and the labels are positioned on the pallet load so they can be scanned by the receiver. A truck load received with all labels in proper position is considered passing this step.
The individual plant needs to identify the split of responsibility of fork truck drivers working on the floor and the person who has been trained to grade the quality of the label and its placement on pallet loads.
Proper use of symbologies and print quality should be checked on the initial shipment to ensure the printing is done properly. Checking the first pallet load taken off the truck and the last load off the truck will give the best determination of the printing process being in control.
After the initial shipment, proper placement of labels should continue to receive a high priority. Continue to check that the proper data is on the labels, the UCC/EAN-128 bar codes all match on a given pallet load, and the labels are positioned on the pallet load so they can be scanned by the receiver.
Proper use of symbologies and print quality will be of lesser priority. Once the label format has been established and if a robust printing technology is being used, few problems should be encountered.
Frequent problems with labels would be classified as a problem being identified on a shipment once in every 10 shipments. If this frequency or higher is present, continuous monitoring is required.
If frequency of problems occurs only once in every 100 truck loads with a supplier, the frequency of problems is considered to be low. Occasional extensive checking of the labeling on a truck load would be warranted. This frequency would be about 2-4 times per month.
A supplier is assumed to be verified if they have had no label incidents in a 3 month period or 10 truck loads, whichever takes more time. A single incident is cause to lose verification status and return to qualification status. If an incident occurs and a special cause can be identified which caused the incident, the supplier can return to verification status in the period of 1 month or 5 truck loads, whichever is the longer period, if no further incidents occur.
Reporting Format and Standards:
The label quality and placement report format should be used for recording all label problems. It is also helpful for the plant to record the extra time the plant spends receiving the truck load because of the particular label problem involved. Each label incident should be reported to the purchasing department as well as the supplier. After 3 incidents, the plant and purchasing should discuss the alternatives for offsetting the additional work at the plant. This could include rejecting receipts with label problems, charging fines to recover the plant's additional expended time, or termination of the suppliers contract.
Special Cause Label Qualification:
Any time a supplier changes software, printing hardware, or computer hardware is a reason to do a check of print quality, format, and data integrity even if the supplier is past the commissioning phase or is even fully qualified.