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.
Products containing animal milk are on a constant time clock. Cows must be milked every day, meaning it is possible for dairy operations to be running 24/7 to get products with under a 20-day expiration period out the door and onto shelves. In these fast-paced manufacturing environments for fluid milk, cheese, yogurt, butter and ice cream products, there are several reasons that impact the method and features required for achieving legible marks and labels onto packaging.
With perishability of dairy products, there is an even greater urgency for products containing milk to make it to grocers’ shelves with the right product identification. Without proper codes, products won’t even be allowed to ship. Any delay could have health risks for consumers and potential financial impact on the manufacturer.
Look for non-contact coders with features focused on maintaining maximum uptime such as:
Cold, wet environments characterize dairy manufacturing facilities. Fluid milks and cheeses can perish quickly and require constant refrigeration from the production line to the delivery truck all the way to the grocery store. Mixing and filling stations call for washdown procedures to prevent contamination and create a damp environment for coding and involved equipment.
It is crucial that coding equipment upholds against these environmental factors with features found in leading inkjet coders like:
At Diagraph, we recommend the Linx 8900 Series printers for their reliable performance in dairy processing environments. To further improve your batch and date coding in the dairy industry, we can suggest additional accessories like fork style photocell sensors for the most accurate coding, positive air added in the printer cabinet to protect against contaminants entering system, and end coders. Contact us today to learn more about how these small character inkjet printers can improve your date and batch coding operation.
Coding is a CRAFT
Top 3 Tips for Choosing a Coding Provider
It can be difficult to choose a marking, coding and labeling equipment provider with so many available. These tips will help you find the best provider for your business:
At Diagraph, we are dedicated in solving your coding and labeling challenges. Diagraph has been assisting customers for over 120 years improving production line efficiencies with simple, reliable, cost-effective coding and labeling solutions. Visit us at www.diagraph.com or contact us at 800.722.1125.
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.
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.
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.
While the utmost care is taken to ensure that meat for human consumption is processed in hygienic environments, the law requires that meat packs are coded for traceability purposes; partly with the aim of enabling the consumer to have greater confidence in the food on their plate.
Packers need to ensure that the codes they deliver onto meat products can give customers and those further along the supply chain all the information they need to trace where it has come from effectively. With the meat and poultry industry ranking as the largest segment in U.S. agriculture, total industry production accounted for more than 92.9 billion pounds of meat and poultry product in 2012. The need to track meat products all the way through the supply chain is crucial to the health of the industry as a whole.
Coding and marking for meat packaging
Coding machines have the ability to deliver traceability information such as the source of the meat, or where it was processed, on products and their packaging, helping to ensure that consumers have peace of mind when they purchase meat (or other food).
Meat processors have various ways in which they can deliver traceability and peace of mind through coding. Whether these are print and apply barcode labels, accomplished using high-resolution continuous inkjet technology or other measures, packers need to have confidence that their coding and marking printers can deliver the right information on products that will stay put – whatever the substrate.
Human error – for example selecting the wrong message to be printed, or entering a code incorrectly - can also potentially cause production delays and product scrappage. However coding technology can help to alleviate this through advances such as remote control or monitoring of printers, or easy-to-use image-based operating software. This means packers have less to worry about, such as costly downtime in an industry that can little afford it.
Why do we need traceability codes?
Traceability requirements are partly designed to help consumers have greater confidence in where their food has come from and improve the accountability of manufacturers; as such legislation has set out a number of laws to deliver just this.
The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) of 2011 is the most robust regulatory act passed in the United States in nearly a century. The food and beverage industry anticipates the release of well-defined FSMA rules by the end of 2015 and the oncoming enforcement of those rules by the FDA by the end of 2016. The timeline outlined above is mandated by a court order. The industry can reliably expect legally mandated inspections of food facilities to begin in 2016.
This modern emphasis on traceability is not just helpful information for consumers, who can tell quickly the origin of their food, but also ensures that any product recalls are limited to the specific items affected – minimizing disruption to a meat processing business. Knowing which affected products were included in a particular lot over a period of time will help prevent manufacturers from having to recall everything – leading to a more accurate and controlled recall process when issues arise and significant cost savings.
Traceability can also help to support the integrity of different types of meat manufactured and processed, for example halal, kosher or organic meat; all of which should be processed under strict guidelines.
If you want to learn more about the best coding and marking solutions for the meat processing industry, download our white paper CHOOSING THE BEST MEAT PROCESSING CODING SOLUTION.