When it comes to product identification equipment, Diagraph likes to keep intervention requirements to a minimum so that customers can simply focus on producing their products. We do this in several ways including:
It is worthwhile to spend a little more time breaking down the importance of these three areas of focus:
At Diagraph, we design our coding and labeling equipment to run cleaner for longer between required interventions as well as to withstand wear and tear to get more useful life out of our equipment. This results in greater equipment uptime and a stronger return on investment over the life of Diagraph equipment.
We accomplish this by focusing on minimizing the number of steps required for routine interventions as well as extending the length of time that can pass between those interventions. Product capabilities like automatic printhead cleanings help keep inkjet coders running with optimal print quality for longer.
Examining consumable replenishment practices and offering opportunities to centralize ink refills or provide a quick turn label stock webbing approach makes accomplishing required interventions quicker and hassle-free.
Finally, quality materials and thoughtful engineering make a difference when it comes to the longevity of your equipment. At Diagraph, we focus on impact resistant designs – whether it be an inkjet coder or a labeler – to ensure long-term product reliability.
Other than making sure your product coding equipment is properly matched to your application and manufacturing environment, one of the most essential steps we can take to ensure your success is to make sure your line operators and maintenance staff know how to properly handle and maintain your equipment.
Because many of our manufacturing customers deal with worker turnover challenges on a regular basis, we recommend routine training touchpoints to keep workers knowledgeable and good stewards of your equipment investment. At Diagraph, we offer refresher-level training opportunities with each scheduled service visit from a Diagraph field service engineer and high-level, more in-depth training that can take place on location or at the Diagraph training facility in St. Charles, Missouri.
Our most successful customers work with us in partnership to regularly evaluate and maintain their coding and labeling equipment. At Diagraph, we team up with our customers to perform routine equipment assessments, provide regularly scheduled service support, and develop long-term equipment upgrade plans.
Staying ahead of wear-caused failures and properly maintaining your equipment keeps it running for longer thus reducing the need for unplanned interventions. As with all things electro-mechanical, there comes a time when equipment performance starts to impact production throughputs. We help you navigate the useful life of your equipment so that you know when it is best to repair and maintain a system or to upgrade to take advantage of performance and feature enhancements.
By working closely together, our account teams can help develop a multi-year plan that provides measurable cost saving opportunities to our customers thanks to efficiency gains in system and consumable usage optimization. These strategic audits also help customers strategically sequence system upgrades of their older technologies in order to avoid the sticker shock that comes along with most of your product identification equipment failing at the same time. Our goal is to always eliminate surprises as much as possible.
Call us today at 800.722.1125 to learn more about how Diagraph partners with manufacturers to achieve product identification and packaging compliance success.
Looking to Increase Productivity?
ITW Shakeproof is the first established ITW (Illinois Tool Works) division. They bring over 80 years of expertise as a manufacturer and innovator of the twisted-tooth lock washer, which paved the way for fastener application engineering. This method of engineering remains popular to this day.
ITW Shakeproof needed to find a method for increasing productivity while reducing packaging line concerns regarding safety. They transitioned away from manually applying labels that were pressure-sensitive and looked for options to automate this process. Manufacturing Engineer, Robert Bauer, saw the need to upgrade the current packaging line in order to make this happen.
They were knowledgeable about Diagraph’s coding and labeling equipment, and decided to add a second line and mirror the equipment on the two lines. Each line featured one PA/6000 label printer/applicator and an IV large-character inkjet coder. The PA/6000 has the capabilities to print the bar code, part number, lot code and company specific information in multiple text sizes all on a 4X6 p-s label. The IV coder marks customer identification information in green ink right on to the other side of every case.
After establishing the two lines, ITW Shakeproof incorporated a robotic palletizer from Fanuc Robotics to save on manual labor. By implementing the two lines and the addition of the palletizer, not only were costs lowered, but employee safety was enhanced. Employees no longer manually lifted heavy cases or stood in one position for hours at a time. Within one year, they saved 331 hours in overtime and eliminated back injuries caused by case lifting.
Need to automate your line? Visit www.diagraph.com for more information on our coding and labeling solutions.
At Diagraph Marking & Coding, we believe that service interventions should always be planned, never a surprise. This is why we like to work with customers to get out ahead of wear-caused failures, giving them the ability to decide when service will be done around their own production schedules. Whether working directly with the Diagraph Field Service Team to keep your fleet of coding and labeling equipment running smoothly or taking on the bulk of the maintenance work on your own, we like to closely advise customers on preventive maintenance and wear part supply plans that are ideal for the age and utilization of their equipment.
There are several factors we take into consideration when developing maintenance recommendations for customers:
Our happiest customers have well looked-after equipment, whether they are taking the lead on maintaining the equipment themselves or partnering directly with Diagraph for equipment service. At Diagraph, we offer training programs to match the skill level of your operations and maintenance teams, have custom preventive maintenance programs tailored to your team’s needs and goals, and offer premier programs for customers who prefer the peace-of-mind that comes with their equipment being fully covered.
Interested in learning more about Diagraph’s Field Service Team? Speak with a Diagraph representative today by calling 1.800.722.1125 or contacting us through the website.
System uptime is the average length of time a piece of equipment runs between interventions are required to keep it operating smoothly. When comparing system uptime when assessing coding equipment, it is important to look at several factors including:
To understand system uptime better, let’s take a closer look at each of these key areas:
Consumable replenishment is the most common and necessary interaction with any given piece of coding equipment. The amount of time a system can go between consumable replenishment, like adding more ink to an inkjet coder, replacing ribbon stock in a thermal transfer printer, or replacing labeling stock on a labeler largely depends on the capacity of the individual piece of coding equipment. There are additional factors to consider when assessing consumable replenishment.
For inkjet coders, it is important to understand how long a printer can run after the bottle or cartridge of ink has run out of fluids. Does the system provide an advanced notice warning giving a countdown to when the coder will be truly empty? Does it provide enough of a warning that allows for fluids to be replenished at ideal production times like before and after shift changes? Can the fluids be replaced while the system is actively coding?
For thermal transfer printers, ribbon capacity as well as total ribbon usage are important to maximizing the length of time between replacing ribbon stock. For ribbon capacity, look at the maximum size of the ribbon roll for your chosen ribbon type. To maximize ribbon usage, look for thermal transfer printers that offer ribbon saving features that utilize as much surface area of the ribbon before advancing it for ribbon waste collection.
Although replenish consumables is unavoidable for the most common types of coding equipment, the very act of replacing or replenishing a bottle of ink or solvent, a roll of ribbon, or a roll of label stock can be made easier and less time consuming for system operators.
Inkjet coders tend to be the easiest type of coding equipment when it comes to consumable replenishment since most inkjet coders can keep running while being refilled. Look for inkjet coders that offer mess free, mistake free refill options like needle and septum systems that prevent leakage and dripping when swapping fluid bottles. This is ideal compared to inkjet coders that require fluid bottles to be manually poured into the system. Another factor to consider is how many touches or actions are required to complete the fluid refill process. Look for systems that provide one-touch fluid refill options as well as variations in shapes and sizes between ink and solvent bottles to simplify the process as much as possible while preventing the wrong fluids from going in the wrong compartments.
Due to the nature of thermal transfer printing, the printer will become temporarily unavailable for coding while ribbon stock needs to be replaced. Look for thermal transfer printers that have an easy-to-web design as well as easy to remove and replace ribbon cassettes. Investing in an additional ribbon cassette that can be loaded and ready to go when ribbon is low minimizes downtime on thermal transfer printers as much as possible.
Like thermal transfer printers, automated labelers also become temporarily available for use when label stock needs to be replaced. Look for an automated labeling system that has an easy label webbing design to make it easy to unload spent stock and load a fresh roll. Manufacturers with high production commands benefit from having alternate labeling machines available. When one machine signals that its label stock is low, the other starts applying labels so that the low system can be replaced. This virtually eliminates downtime with automated labelers.
Although consumable replenishment is required more frequently than maintenance, preventive maintenance procedures take more time to complete and often require the coding equipment to be completely unavailable for printing while being serviced. Not all coding systems are created equal. Service intervals are usually stated in the amount of system hours that can pass before preventive maintenance is required. Things like ink type, manufacturing environment, and overall wear and tear caused by the application can impact recommended system intervals.
For inkjet coders, look for systems that can run as long as a year or more before maintenance is required. Better yet, look for systems that provide advanced warnings about upcoming maintenance so that you can schedule interventions around your production schedule. Another factor to consider is how easy or complicated it is to perform maintenance. Look for systems that have self-contained service modules that can be easily swapped out without the need for a service engineer. Systems that have screen-guided instructions for service interventions tend to be the easiest to use.
For thermal transfer printers, take a look at preventive maintenance requirements that are recommended by the manufacturer. How many parts require replacement? How long does the manufacturer state it will take to perform maintenance? How easy is it to access parts that need to be replaced? These are all important questions to ask when evaluating thermal transfer printers.
When it comes to automated labeling systems, all-electric systems allow you to replace wear parts while relying on pre-programmed settings to get the labeler operating as quickly as possible. Pneumatically operated labeling systems require extensive adjustments after replacing wear parts, making maintenance interventions anything but fast. Also look for labeling systems that offer screen-guided instructions for quick and simple service interventions. Another advantage of all-electric labeling systems over pneumatic is that electric options allow for a gentler application of the label to the substrate. This cuts down on overall wear and tear, allowing the system to go for longer between maintenance intervals.
If you have any questions about how to calculate the uptime of your current coding equipment compared to new coding equipment technology, we are here to help. Contact a Diagraph product identification expert today by calling 1.800.722.1125 or contacting us through our website.
Our goal at Diagraph is to make maintaining your coding and labeling equipment both proactive and predictable. “Proactive” because we believe that service interventions should always be planned, never a surprise. “Predictable” because we believe that service interventions should be done around your production schedule. When done properly, this helps eliminate equipment downtime, keeping your production running as smoothly as possible.
Over the past 125 years, we have found that our happiest customers are our most well supported customers. We offer a variety of maintenance agreements that allow customers to choose the right level of support they need for their coding and labeling equipment.
Customers with well-staffed maintenance departments often opt for our standard preventive maintenance agreements in which a Diagraph Factory Certified Technician performs recommended service interventions for the equipment. Customers with preventive maintenance agreements also enjoy Diagraph Insider pricing on parts and consumables.
Customers who want a higher level of support with service visits beyond regularly scheduled service intervals opt for a custom maintenance agreement. This helps establish an up-front cost for future maintenance that injects a level of predictability into their maintenance budget. Customers with custom maintenance agreements also enjoy Diagraph Insider pricing on parts and consumables beyond supplies that are already provided for as part of the agreement.
Customers who want total peace-of-mind opt for our all-inclusive maintenance agreement, our Premier Agreement. Our Premier Agreements not only cover routine preventive maintenance but also all repair costs, including parts and labor, in the event that something unexpected happens, whenever it happens, during the coverage of the agreement. This level of support is purchased for a specified number of years at the time of purchasing your Diagraph systems. Your maintenance budget doesn’t get any more predictable than that! The agreement can be paid for upfront or over time if you opt to roll it into a leasing program.
Because we believe that equipment operators and maintenance teams are integral to the long-term performance of coding and labeling equipment, we work customer training programs into all levels of our service agreements. Interested in learning more about how Diagraph can best support your product identification operations? Speak with a Diagraph representative today by calling 1.800.722.1125 or contacting us through the website.
For sachet or stick pack packaging, the Allen MLi-TE multi-lane thermal transfer printer is a top solution for coding individual expiration dates or lot codes upstream. Multiple lanes can print quickly and simultaneously, utilizing one ribbon to avoid multiple consumables running out at various, unsynchronized times. The Allen MLi’s configurable design requires only one controller and one consumable for up to 12-lanes of print, greatly simplifying packaging machine maintenance and reducing downtime.
Once your packet is coded, sachet or stick pack packaging requires a specialized system to form the packaging receptacle, fill the product into the packet, and seal the ends to secure the product for transport. These systems are known as FFS - form, fill, and seal machines - and they come in two different varieties: (1) Vertical (VFFS) and (2) Horizontal (HFFS). Vertical uses gravity to aide in the filling process, where horizontal is generally high speed by using mechanical methods for filling.
Today we’re doing a Q&A with an expert stick pack OEM, Viking Masek, to cover the key points to evaluate when selecting stick pack equipment to integrate with a marking and coding solution like the Allen MLi-TE.
Stick pack machines are perfect for packaging a wide variety of powder, granular, and liquid products. Powder products can be dense, fine, loose, and particulate materials. Liquids can be substances of differing viscosities including water-like fluids, gels, and pastes.
Stick packaging is very popular in many industries, especially with powdered drink mixes, liquid and powder pharmaceuticals and nutraceuticals, and granular ingredients like sugar. Contract packagers in the medical and dietary supplement industries also highly favor stick packaging equipment.
Single serve and controlled dosage packaging is very popular with todays’ consumers, spanning across many generational demographic groups. Millennials and young professionals love stick packs because they are portable, convenient, and fit unobtrusively into their busy lives. The aging population uses stick packs because they are lightweight and often feature easy-open options like tear notches, making it easier for those with limited dexterity to handle and use the product. Moms and dads are attracted to stick packs because they can easily feed their children with a single, easy to open, controlled serving size package that requires little clean up and virtually no utensils.
When it comes to selecting the proper stick packaging equipment for your unique product, there are experts available to guide you every step of the way. However, there are a few major considerations they will take into account when recommending machinery. These include:
All stick pack machines can utilize the following product fillers:
Stick pack machines can be built to accommodate different stick widths (most popular are 23 mm and 35 mm), convenient designs including pour spouts and specialty die-cut shapes, and can also feature easy-open options like tear notches and micro-perforations. Available with IQ/OQ pharma construction, stick packaging machinery is a great solution for pharmaceutical packaging.
Often stick pack clients desire to print expiration dates or lot codes on their stick packaging. There are many multi-lane printing options available, including Diagraph’s new Allen MLi-TE multi-lane thermal transfer printer.
First, do your research. This can be done via the internet, on the phone, or in person through your professional and personal networks. Attend industry trade shows and strive to see available equipment in person. When you’ve narrowed down your packaging OEM choices and are looking for more details in the form of a proposal, prepare by defining key points the equipment manufacturer will need so to provide the most accurate configuration for your specific needs. The key items that must be defined differ from powder to liquid products.
Remember that with most capital purchases, and especially when it comes to a piece of equipment you will rely on for a vital part of your production process, you often get what you pay for. Consider not only the initial purchase price of the piece of machinery, but total cost of ownership (TCO). TCO will include costs for things like training, maintenance and parts, installation, and tax implications.
Located in Southeast Wisconsin, Viking Masek manufactures, sells, and services flexible packaging machinery for food and non-food industries worldwide. Our focus on packaging innovation and investments in both technology and people makes us uniquely poised to take on unique packaging equipment projects, both large and small. Have questions about flexible packaging? Contact us today for a free Packaging Equipment Consultation.
At Diagraph Marking & Coding, we believe that service interventions should always be planned, never a surprise. There are several components to an operations and maintenance program that make this possible, but one of the most important ones that we like to focus on is operator and maintenance team training. A well-trained equipment end user can keep systems running at their ideal performance level for longer.
When working with customers to develop a training program that is right-sized to their coding and labeling operation, we focus on the following:
Operator and maintenance team training is critical at time of installation. We want the operators to understand how to navigate the user interface, perform commands that are relevant to their application, evaluate the system’s performance, and properly perform routine maintenance.
When working with maintenance teams, we cover routine maintenance expectations, system diagnostics, and the steps needed to perform required service interventions on the system. A discussion around service intervals recommended for the unique manufacturing environment as well as what parts are required (if any) to perform maintenance are also identified.
Because we understand that questions come up after users have spent some time with the equipment, we like to do a post-installation check-in to ensure that everything is running smoothly and questions get answered.
Although customers can request training for their workers at any time, we incorporate regularly scheduled training intervals into our contract service programs. This ensures that operators remain proficient in using Diagraph coding and labeling technology throughout their use of the equipment and helps account for the training of any new workers that may have joined with our customers since the last training date. Performing regularly scheduled training also allows our field service team to inform our customers of new capabilities that may be helpful for their application that are unlocked by firmware upgrades.
We offer advanced technical training for customers that takes place either at our training facility in St. Charles, Missouri or on-site at the customer’s facility in a training or meeting room. Our advanced technical training is ideal for largely independent maintenance teams that perform the bulk of diagnostics and service work on their coding and labeling technology. At Diagraph, we customize all advanced technical training programs to the unique goals of the maintenance team and manufacturing environment.
All of our training programs are performed by Diagraph Factory Certified Service Technicians to ensure that you are getting the most up-to-date information about how to best use your coding and labeling equipment.
Interested in scheduling a training session or building a full training program for your team? Speak with a Diagraph representative today by calling 1.800.722.1125 or contacting us through the website.