Set up and monitor numbering, bar-coding or inline data printing equipment

Business Sectors (Suites): Machine Printing
Developed by: Improve
Approved on: 29 Feb 2020


This standard is for people who set and monitor numbering, bar-coding or inline data printing equipment. The numbering equipment may be conventional numbering 'clocks' or 'blocks' or ink-jet, thermal or laser technology.

Numbering, bar-coding, as well as the addition of batch information and variable personal data to printed material is very common in the printing industry. From gaming tickets through stationery and packaging to direct mail, the range of printed products which now contain such information is huge.

Mechanical numbering 'blocks' which print sequential numbering series can be found on letterpress machines and mechanical numbering 'clocks' which perform a similar operation are found on many small offset lithographic machines or on standalone numbering machines. For these types of devices, the operator must be able to set up the equipment so that the impression is clean and of the right weight so as not to damage the product or the equipment. Because these devices are inked in a conventional way, they must be kept clean in order to avoid 'sticking' or jumping. On some products, one or more of the same numbers must be printed, on others, multiple numbering heads usually require the sequence of numbering to be carefully worked out so that the numbers count forwards or backwards to create a sequential set when the product is guillotined.

Impact printers typically have a 'foil' ribbon from which the foil coating is transferred to the printed product when it is struck by the print head. Non-impact printers include ink-jet units, which are capable of printing at high speed onto moving substrates, and thermal print heads that require thermal sensitive substrates or transfer ribbons in order to produce an image. These digital driven devices are programmed by a computer or by a touchscreen or keyboard supplied by the device manufacturer.

Commercially available numbering software is also increasingly common, and these programmes can set up complex sequential numbering in multiple positions on a sheet for subsequent printing to a laser or ink-jet printer. This standard may be used for operators of such software providing the numbering is sequential, not static. This standard cannot be used for the printing of a static bar-code contained as part of a larger printed image because the standard requires the setting up (including programming for digital devices) of numerical or other inline data printing equipment.

Performance criteria

You must be able to:

Set up numbering, barcoding or non-impact printing equipment

  1. identify numbering or other data requirements from specifications
  2. determine sequence, orientation and position of numbering or data on sheets to meet specifications
  3. calculate starting numbers for each number position to meet specifications
  4. mount the numbering devices or print heads to meet specifications
  5. put ink or transfer media into equipment following standard operating procedures
  6. input required data, create layouts, and apply the correct fonts, including barcode font and format to meet specifications
  7. set numbering devices or print heads to produce a clean image without causing physical damage to the substrate to be printed
  8. check any sequential numbering will operate and count in the right direction to meet specifications
  9. check batch coding data is set-up and any barcode images can be read by a barcode scanning device
  10. obtain approval to begin production following standard operating procedures**

Run and monitor the quality of numbering, bar-coding or non-impact printing during production

11. confirm quality of printed images meet specifications  
12. check numbering or variable data is maintained in sequence
13. stop production if numbering or variable data sequence has failed following standard operating procedures
14. check numbering, bar-coding or other data can be read, including by a 'reading' device such as a barcode scanner
15. correct faults that it is your job to correct, including resetting any numerical sequence following standard operating procedures
16. report any printing problems that it is not your job to correct following standard operating procedures
17. remove or clearly identify any defective products following standard operating procedures
18. dispose of any defective products following standard operating procedures  
19. keep samples of printed products following standard operating procedures  
20. keep records of the data printed, including details of any batch coding or numbering sequences used

Knowledge and Understanding

You need to know and understand:

The Law as it affects printing

  1. data protection
    Ethical Issues relevant to printing

2. confidentiality

Health and Safety

3. your duties and responsibilities for health and safety as defined by any specific legislation covering your job role
4. manufacturer's health and safety requirements relevant to your job
5. how to stop a machine in the event of an emergency


6. how to communicate with colleagues

Workplace policy and practice

7. workplace objectives, priorities, standards and procedures
8. the range of work carried out in the workplace

The identification and assessment of printing options

9. the stages in the printing process from pre-press to printed product *

Time and Resources

10. how to maximise productivity

The operation of equipment

11. the operation of numbering, barcoding or non-impact inline printing equipment
12. the principles of barcode construction, including the use of 'check' digits *


13. the principles of impact and non-impact numbering and inline data printing *

The causes and treatment of common faults

14. processing faults
15. machine faults

Administrative procedures

16. recording and reporting
17. product labelling *


18. any specific environmental legislation that covers processes in your company
19. control of pollution

Quality Assurance and Control

20. techniques for controlling quality
21. equipment for controlling quality in barcode production

Problem Solving

22. sources of information
23. techniques for assessing machine faults


24. the types and characteristics of paper, board and other commonly used substrates
25. the types and characteristics of ink and coatings
26. how to maintain the quality of materials during storage and handling


Scope Performance

Scope Knowledge





Links To Other NOS

External Links

Version Number


Indicative Review Date

28 Feb 2025





Originating Organisation


Original URN


Relevant Occupations

Printers, Printing Machine Minders and Assistants, Printing Trades

SOC Code



machines; printing; lithographic; equipment; flexographic; operate; maintain; inks; coatings;