Just as you cannot ride a bicycle without wheels, a packaging execution system (PES) is to the packaging identification process what a manufacturing execution system (MES) is to manufacturing – it centrally steers all actions related to the process.

While most manufacturing companies are realising the benefits of an MES, 90% of them do not yet recognise the advantages a PES brings them. This is according to Zetes’ direct experience working with

The potential benefits are huge, especially in a world where correct product identification and traceability are imperatives.

All too often, there is no direct data link between the packaging line and ERP system. This means that each device involved in the packaging process is configured locally and independently, and often manually.

As a result there is an increased probability for mistakes – such as the wrong information on the label, non-compliance with standards like GS1, errors against supply chain identification rules or configuration error of
the packaging identification system. As a result, there is no visibility and traceability of actions, events and data, no data aggregation and no automated control.

“Without a packaging execution suite that provides integration of all packaging lines with the ERP of the company, the whole traceability of its products is jeopardised as you cannot guarantee the accuracy and
efficiency of the identification and control processes,” says Karin Parker, Zetes SA’s Executive head of Sales and Marketing.

Full control over the packaging line
With these challenges in mind, Zetes has developed ZetesAtlas, where the software acts as the essential link between the ERP and the packaging line. By providing a totally controlled loop, it takes control over the full
range of peripherals, such as printers, cameras, and controllers, allowing the correct management of all the common processes related to product identification.

“One single solution steers all the lines, controls all the data and provides reports on events and actions that show what happened and where it happened. Fully automated processes also mean faster execution of the
latter,” adds Parker.

Furthermore, one single person can steer all the machines on the same line, with a single machine interface. This reduces the number of manual interventions, and therefore, the number of errors.

“Knowing that the integration has been done thoroughly and that all the information is securely mastered in real time provides the customer with peace of mind. Identification quality and integrity is guaranteed,” she

ZetesAtlas also handles unit identification (heterogeneous flows, serialisation) and provides precise information on which products are in which boxes, and so on. Parent-child association is made possible through
mass reading: when positioning products in a box, the serial numbers of these products are read simultaneously and associated with the serial number of the box itself.

Executing so-called data aggregation strengthens the traceability of each individual product unit.

According to Parker, manufacturing companies have concentrated their investment efforts for decades around the MES, which, of course, is essential to ensure products are of consistent quality.

“But with the growing need for traceability, be it to protect brands, control distribution channels or protect consumer health, we are noticing a mindshift, although, until recently, there was not really an equivalent of the
MES for the packaging process.

“With the emergence of new data carriers, which allow to encode more data (such as, for example, ‘best before date’) and item level identification, companies understand the need for a solution that efficiently manages
and orchestrates the whole packaging identification process. With solutions like ZetesAtlas, the gap that existed in the market has now been filled.”