Packaging Digest is part of the Informa Markets Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

The case of the spotty slacks

I was at Jan’s plant helping out with some OEE (overall equipment efficiency) issues on the packaging line. Everyone had been friendly all week, but now as I walked to the cafeteria I noticed some of the teammates looking at me funny and laughing behind their hands.

“What’s up,” I asked Jan. “Why the funny looks?”

“Look at your pants.” Jan replied.

I looked down. The front of my pants, from waist to knee, was covered with large black dots. “What the …?” I thought as I tried to imagine what had happened. Then it hit me: I’d been coded!

I had been watching the casepacker much of the morning, trying to get a handle on why it jammed. There was a large-format DOD inkjet printer on the discharge conveyor across from where I had been standing. The printer was triggering with no case and the ink dots flying across the conveyor to where I stood.

“Fiddlesticks on inky pants!” I roared. “You have your trigger photoeye set way too sensitive. Anything, like me, will trigger it from 4 ft. away. Turn it down so it triggers only when a case is right in front of it. Non-contact printers, whether inkjet or laser, should be shielded to prevent the code from going where it does not belong. In this case, a flat plate mounted on the opposite side of the conveyor will be sufficient.”

I knew I should have worn the dark pants today.

KC Boxbottom, packaging detective, is on the case to solve tough packaging puzzles. He is the alter-ego of John Henry, CPP. Known as the Changeover Wizard, Henry is the owner of, a consulting firm that helps companies find and fix the causes of inefficiencies in their packaging operations. He produces a free monthly newsletter called Lean Changeover, which contains articles and tips on changeover and related issues. Reach him at [email protected].

Hide comments


  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.