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Parts Labeling 101
Everyone knows about labeling parts, but there are many ways to get the job done.
Labeling parts at receiving has become standard operating procedure for the majority of manufacturers we interact with. There are many who get by without their own labels, but even those who do practice labeling may not understand all the potential benefits of doing so. In this post we'll briefly go over some basics of labeling, and in our next post we'll discuss what you can do once your parts are labeled.
Who should label parts at receiving?
The quick answer is: nearly everyone! In order to track your material throughout your facility, it's best to start the moment new material is received. Labeling right away during receiving ensures that any package in your facility can be immediately identified by reading or scanning its label.
There are two general types of electronics manufacturers who may not need to label immediately upon receipt: ultra-high volume manufacturers, and those whose suppliers provide parts pre-labeled with unique identifiers. Often there is overlap between these groups since higher-volume manufacturers have more leverage to make their suppliers meet requirements like this.
What should be on a label?
The specifics depend on each use case, but in general a package label should include key information about the part in both human-readable and scannable forms. This key information typically includes some combination of the internal part number, manufacturer part number, date/lot code(s), initial quantity, description, and other details. One key piece of information that we think every label should have is a Unique Identifier (UID) that is tied to one package and one package only.
Having information in human-readable form allows any individual to pick up a package and identify what it is immediately. Having information in barcode-scannable form allows operators to scan the details of that part into systems ranging from ERP/MRP, to MES, to Smart Storage Systems, to Pick-and-Place equipment, and so on. Whenever possible, we prefer to utilize 2D barcodes that store all the part's data in one scannable field, however individual 1D barcodes will also work fine for most use cases.
Where do labels come from?
Again, the details vary, but most commonly we see labels generated by ERP/MRP systems. In our experience, most modern ERP systems have a function to print labels for received goods, and for many manufacturers this is the most straight-forward way to introduce labeling since parts will generally be received through the ERP system when they arrive.
In some case we have seen manufacturers wait to label until parts reach the production floor, when they can utilize their MES or Pick-and-Place systems to generate labels at the line. While this can be workable in the right circumstances, it's less than ideal to only label parts when they hit production. This means you have thousands (or tens- or hundreds-of-thousands!) of unlabeled packages that can be hard to accurately identify in your stockroom or warehouse
How to level up labeling?
The best receiving processes we've seen in the electronics manufacturing world utilize the MODI Incoming Goods Scanner to automatically identify, receive, and print labels for incoming parts. This smart receiving table takes multiple images of incoming parts, automatically decodes manufacturer labels, prints your own custom internal labels, and receives parts automatically into your ERP/MRP/MES systems.
MODI can automatically translate manufacturer part numbers to internal or customer part numbers, it can verify parts and quantities against your purchase orders and packing slips, and significantly reduce human errors while increasing receiving throughput.
Okay, now what?
You've got labels on your parts, but what can you do with them? Stay tuned for a next post where we'll discuss some obvious and not-so-obvious use cases for your barcode labels! For questions on this information, on the MODI Receiving Table, or anything else related to material and manufacturing do not hesitate to get in touch!