Code match is not a new use of barcodes but like so many uses of barcodes, the sky is the limit for how many different ways in which the barcode can be useful. This is but one example, and we think a clever one. The company we worked with is a co-packager. They receive commodity candy products in bulk and re-package them in consumer quantities.
Each bulk package is marked with a GTIN 14 barcode, what many of us have known as an ITF14 or a Shipping Container Symbol. The repackaging line is basically a hopper on a mezzanine above a set of chutes into which the hopper delivers the candy product. A worker breaks open the 40 pound bulk packs and pours the contents into the hopper, but not before scanning the barcode on a simple read station that validates it to a master that has been programmed into the system. It is the very soul simplicity, which is the beauty of the system. Below, workers insert consumer bags onto the delivery chutes and the system weights everything out according to the order specs and the bag size.
Code match has usages only limited by the imagination
The code match function is used for several reasons. If the bag is labeled for Product A, obviously the contents must be Product A. Sometime the bar and contents is a mix of various products. Here again, the right contents must go into the hopper if they are to come out into the consumer bags. The hopper loader is held to that requirement by the code match system.
Another very important attribute of the system is to build out the error opportunity of introducing allergens where they are prohibited. In candy co-packing this is usually peanuts. Have you ever read a label that said “This product may have been packaged on machinery where peanuts have been processed.”? This is one example of that sort of machinery. This co-packer has dedicated packaging lines where peanuts are never handled in order to avoid contamination.
Programming the code match system is also very simple. Press a reset and “teach” the scanner the barcode or barcodes it can expect to see in the next packaging session; hit the Run button. Anything not expected will cause a line stop which requires a reset by a supervisor, who also makes sure nothing prohibited got into the mechanism.
Code match is simple but powerful in reducing errors
The system is simple but effective. The hopper loading job is arduous and redundant, a perfect error opportunity for even the most diligent worker. Prior to the code match system errors were a weekly occurrence, often with great cost and disruption not to mention consternation to both the company and its customers. Although errors can still happen they are detected in a matter of seconds, almost always before a wrong bulk pack is even opened and has a chance to contaminate the hopper or get into the wrong consumer package.
Do you know of an unusual or interesting sage of code match? Please comment and share.