In an effort to improve on shelf availability and lower labor hours, Walmart announced a new list of demands for its suppliers to adhere to. The list of demands not only bans ink-jet printing on cases for the 14-digit Global Trade Item Number (GTIN), but it also states that all four sides of cases must display item information.

In order to be in compliance, supplying partners are scrambling to come up with solutions to the many problems posed by the new demands. For example, with ink-jet printing, companies can customize generic cases as they are coming off of the production or packing line. Without this ability, suppliers argue case-printing runs will shorten, the number of required printing plates will rise, inventory complexity will rise, and new warehouses will be needed just to hold all of the individually printed cases. In addition, in order to print on all four sides of a case rather than on just one or two, suppliers will need to reconfigure their manufacturing lines with “bump-and-turn” stations.

Packaging World conducted a survey of Consumer Packaged Goods companies to see how the ban on ink-jet would impact their businesses. 40% of respondents expect the requirement to increase their costs up to 10%, 24% said up to 20%, and 13% said costs would rise by more than 30%. Many of those surveyed also included candid comments about how Walmart’s real problem is not ink-jet printing, but rather subpar scanners and undertrained employees. After all, the American National Standards Institute and UCC (Uniform Commercial Code) thoroughly analyzed ink-jet-printed bar codes for an extended period of time and deemed them reliable.

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Critics are pushing for much easier and cheaper solutions, such as requiring companies to scan their ink-jet-printed bar codes before leaving their facilities and reject cases that are not easily read by the scanner. We empower our clients to do just that.  With a one-time capital investment, Acquire ensures each and every coded product (barcode and human readable) is accurate and legible. Additionally, Acquire offers Prism, a product for manufacturers looking to add vision inspection to their existing case printing operations. Our systems can even grade the codes, log the results, and store images for record to support and uphold Walmart’s requirements. By choosing mark and verify, you will not only save costs, but also maintain one of your most valued customers.

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