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Remote Work and Labels

July 9, 2013
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In the old days, programmers would almost always have to go to a customer site to work on label development.

Label Development Difficulty Explanation
While there are some label programs that are easier to use than others, there are still complex labels out there that require a lot of fiddling. If you had a huge label with just a few fields, it would not be such an issue. But we increasingly try to fit quite a lot of things on relatively small labels. While, theoretically, we always say that we should have fewer things our labels, there are times when we cannot avoid it. One good example would be the GHS (Globally Harmonized System) for hazards, where some amount of label text and other information is required to be printed on certain labels. This takes up quite a lot of room on the labels.

Then, the issue becomes that the person designing the labels does their best to determine fonts, count characters and lines. But, in the end, it is the end-users that determine which portions of the label are or are not readable (and which portions need to be readable). Thus, on a crowded label, there is a LOT of fiddling around.

The Issues With Remote Work and Labels

Labels look simple but can often be difficult. They require having the appropriate label printer, available. As I said, in the old days, I pretty much had to go on-site to get labels to work, because I had to sit there printing label-after-label until they were correct, which requires a fresh rolls of each of the label stocks needed, by the way.

But with the advent of remote work, I don’t do that, any longer. In the old days, a label printer was devoted to the label development task and parked somewhere that was hopefully (but not always) accessible to the label developer (fie on those of you who put it behind locked doors that the label development had no access to). These days, customers still tend to devote a printer to this task. But, unlike the old days, will take the printer and ship it to the developer.

If shipping the label printer to the developer and then back, again, looks expensive, it’s a drop in the bucket to the cost of shipping the developer back-and-forth until the task is done, where the postal service is still much cheaper than the airlines (especially when combined with hotel, rental car and the like).

That Which Does Not Work
It has never worked to have the label developer far from the label printer. When the developer has to call someone in the lab to run down every time the label must be checked, it exponentially increases the development time. Rather than saying this method doesn’t work, I should correct this — it works when you have plenty of time, don’t mind paying the developer extra for their time, and have a lab person who has the time to run around like this. For simple labels, this is not actually so bad, but for complicated labels, this is a terrible idea.

Gloria Metrick
GeoMetrick Enterprises
http://www.GeoMetrick.com/

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. July 11, 2013 9:41 am

    Serial instrument interfacing is another area where remote work was nearly impossible and almost remains that way today. Our way around the problem with serial instruments is to provide a small fanless computer that can be wall mounted. We install all of our serial interface software on that along with LogMein software. This allows us to remote into the box and configure the serial interfaces. The killer part is cabling. We have created a set of standard cables we keep in stock and we ship that to the customer along with the small computer. Everything is setup for plug and play. The user plugs the cable into the serial port on the box and the other end into the network patch panel noting the port number. Then they go to the floor in the lab and find the network port on the wall that matches. They plug one end of the cable into that and the the other end on the serial port of the instrument. Once this is done, we are able to remotely configure and many times, control the actual physical instrument completely remotely.

    As for labels, we pretty much do the same things you describe but we have a small lab setup with a wide variety of printers, scanners and some instruments to test with so we rarely need the customer to ship anything to us other than their label stock.

  2. July 11, 2013 10:11 am

    It is rare, but I have heard of customers shipping out a balance or a pH meter as they might a label printer.

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