Labeling errors can cause massive losses in almost any industry. There is an alternative option, though: Avoiding them through automation.
Human proofreaders may still be the go-to for creative and informative long-form content where style, consistent narrative, and grammar are key. When it comes to labels for packaging, there are better options.
Studies and good sense tell us a human being who is tasked with visually scanning similar items for hours on end is guaranteed to make errors. The only ways to decrease the number is to use software and limit the workload of each individual proofreader or to limit the workload of each individual proofreader by multiplying the size of the workforce. Only one of these options makes long-term financial sense.
Learn from Pharma’s Mistakes: Automate Quality Control
In 2012, a pharmaceutical company voluntarily recalled a huge deployment of cough syrup because of labeling errors. The Food and Drug Administration identified the product as being mislabeled with incorrect indications as to the amount of the active ingredient being used.
A mistake of this magnitude is serious. The losses are believed to be in the millions, but they would certainly have been even greater had there been any injuries.
There are (a lot of) other cases.
In 2013, Vita Health was forced to recall a whole range of products for labeling inconsistencies. A separate recall of potassium chloride injections took place in 2014. A labeling error there led to the injections potentially having been packaged with shipments of others containing gentamicin sulfate.
The consequences could have been much worse, with each of these firms escaping potential injury and wrongful-death lawsuits by taking action in time. Such a development would have constituted a bigger blow not just to their profit margin, but lasting reputation as well. Taking action even earlier could have spared them from any financial inconvenience altogether, though.
No Risk of Massive Recalls with Proofreading Software
Every company that manufactures and packages large amounts of products and does not automate the proofreading process is needlessly exposing themselves to the possibility of a profit-crushing recall.
Automated proofreading software scans your labels with a very low to non-existent risk of errors. In fact, more than 95% of cases in which packaging software failed to correctly scan a packing label occurred due to the label being improperly presented to the reader mechanism. That means that either human error or a fault in a conveyor or other device was the culprit instead.
These automated packaging systems recognize and extract data from the image on your labels. This data is then compared directly to the original document. If there is any variance relative to the pre-set expected label, the system will alert the employee(s).
The fix may include reprinting or relabeling, but it’s infinitely better to be forced to do it early than when it’s too late. And, in most cases, this simple remedy reduces errors to within a fraction of a percent to zero. Technology like this is a critical component of modern food and drug packaging and will most likely become similar for every major manufacturing and packaging operation by the end of the decade.
Even in the best-case scenario, the alternative means overworked and underpaid proofreaders who labor under the constant fear of making mistakes. Or it means running a group of professional proofreaders who are not overworked but cannot produce a product commensurate with the expense. For any moderate to large-scale operation, this should be unacceptable.
Using software on the other hand alleviates huge amounts of overhead and removes the risk of a disastrous recall. For any operation, this should be cold, hard logic.