Container and shipping labels are essential tools for tracking product through different stages in the plant manufacturing process. Hopefully, you have already invested in barcoding, automation, and lean flow. To maximize those efficiencies, staff involved in sowing, sticking, plant maintenance, growing, and shipping need to know how to read and interpret labels.
When varieties are mixed up while patching or pulling an order, delays and mistakes will cost your company in labor, customer credits, and reputation. We pack a lot of complex information onto modern labels, which is not obvious to a new employee. Investing in simple tools and a training program for new employees will easily pay back many times over.
In the Floriculture Research Alliance, we have worked with our industry research partners to develop a simple approach to label training. Our training approach has three steps: (1) Take photos of your labels and provide new employees with a laminated tool they can carry around in their back pockets for reference. (2) Help your supervisor to train new employees on the labels and the tool. (3) Test and verify that workers have understood the training and gained the necessary skills.
Step One: A Back Pocket Label Tool
Take a digital photo of a representative example of each of your label types (such as a tray or pot label, employee label, master pull, and individual shipping labels). Insert the images into PowerPoint or a similar graphical editing program. Crop the photos to trim out any background you do not need. Insert call-outs or text boxes that identify symbols, colors, numbers, and words. Discuss with the supervisor to ensure you use the same languages and jargon terms that your own employees use, because terms vary between countries of origin and greenhouse businesses (click here to download a list of common label terms in both English and Spanish). Print, trim the pages to pocket size, and laminate.
Next: Provide Training With The Label Tool