How to Save Paper Waste in the Manufacturing Process

Paper waste is surprisingly common in manufacturing operations even as we increasingly shift to plastic wrappers, digital record keeping, and nearly automated factories. Here are a few tips on how to save paper waste in the manufacturing process. We’ll focus on practical, easy to implement solutions for any type of manufacturing business that won’t cost a lot of money.

Eliminate Paperwork

One of the simplest ways to eliminate paper waste in the manufacturing process is to eliminate paper routers describing how products should be handled and paper tags indicating the status of work in process.

Instead, switch to RFID that tracks the status of each item as well as its location. Now you eliminate much of the paper used in the manufacturing process with the potential of vastly streamlining inventory checks as well. If you can’t eliminate paper altogether, switch to printed barcode stickers that can track the item as it goes through the process instead of literal status reports and packing lists.

A variation of this is switching to a computerized maintenance management system that sends reports to mechanics to repair items, while your employees report problems via tablets and handheld smart devices instead of paper forms.

Minimize Print Jobs

A common source of paper waste is the industrial printer. When the printer printing your logos and labels on cardboard is offset or set wrong, the resulting product is typically tossed out. One solution is simplifying the mandatory printing to legal disclaimers, product descriptions, and your product name and/or logo. You can improve the quality standards by designing a print job that can be slightly off in terms of color or location and still be acceptable.

A regular generator of paper waste in manufacturing is the application of stickers with extra information to the cardboard. Some of these stickers come off and are tossed. Others are made wrong and discarded. Where possible, integrate the content that would have been put on a sticker into the standard print job, even if it is simply a disclaimer that this is the new and improved product.

Apply Quality Control to Your Printers

Sometimes you need the printed materials, whether they’re packing slips, advertising brochures, assembly instructions or legal notices. You are required to print these materials as required to support the operation. This means the only serious solution left for minimizing paper waste in the manufacturing process is applying quality control to your printers and print jobs.

You need to monitor print jobs so that you catch problems early instead of letting a thousand brochures being made as the process renders them increasingly unreadable. It means monitoring the printer’s performance so that you maintain it at its peak performance instead of waiting for it to break, potentially ruining a production batch.

You could use manufacturing apps like GoCanvas to collect real-time quality data on production jobs as well as better manage print jobs. Then you can stop printing immediately when something is out of spec, reducing scrap while being able to reschedule work as necessary.

Reducing the overall need and saving yourself the wasted time and effort creating paper products you only dispose of later is the only long-term solution for saving paper waste created by the manufacturing process.

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