Automated Pallet Marking System
The American Lumber Standard Committee recently imposed a regulation on companies that produce heat-treated pallets. This regulation forces pallet manufacturers to mark each pallet with the IPPC HT logo. As you can imagine, many issues quickly surfaced with this addition including poor quality, a loss in productivity and an increase in labor costs for many companies.
Many facilities rely on manual stenciling to apply this logo, as well as other identification and tracking data. Not only is this time-consuming, but it also requires the use of manpower with inconsistent results. Here at Diagraph we came up with a better solution.
The IJ3000 Large Character Ink Jet Printing System addresses and corrects these issues.
Despite the best intentions, manual anything often leads to inconsistencies. For businesses with a brand image to protect, this poses a problem. The automated IJ3000 removes the need for manual marking and delivers uniform results.
Loss in Productivity
Relying on manual labor always runs the risk of human error. With pallets, this could mean incorrect stamping or lower than needed speeds. This system produces simultaneous online marking for both sides, as well as automatic printhead cleaning. These features lead to an increase in production as well as less downtime for maintenance.
With the necessary printing of lot codes, production dates and other relevant information, the need for labor increases. This adds extra costs that an automated system such as the IJ3000 eliminates.
To learn more about how the IJ3000 Pallet Marking System can increase productivity for you, learn more here.
Analogue coding technology is still found throughout the meat processing industry, such as hot stamp or roller coders. As a relatively cheap printing solution, these could be used by meat processors to keep costs down on their fast production lines.
Of all the analogue coding technologies available, hot foil stamping is perhaps the most common in meat processing. Our best-of-industry Norwood hot stamp printers are still widely used today. With that being said, relying on analogue based technology can have its drawbacks, and that’s where digital coders come in.
The drawbacks of analogue coding technology
When it comes to analogue coding, the messages that are available for coding are restricted by the amount of information that can actually fit on the die wheel. Therefore, the coders are not as flexible as they could be when it comes to having to incorporate larger messages on the pack. Also, with hot stamp technology, there is a wait for the coder to ‘warm up’ – meaning that valuable coding time is lost through setup.
In an industry dealing with fresh produce where packers need to respond to changing legislation quickly and efficiently, having a technology that needs this amount of time to set up is not ideal in many meat processing lines. Also, errors in coding cannot easily be amended, as codes are manually changed on the die wheel which means stopping the printer, removing the die wheel and replacing individual characters which is a fiddly and time-consuming process. Worn code wheels can also potentially lead to perforation of the packaging, something that could potentially lead to scrappage.
Hot foil stamping is also a contact technology, something that could further constrain the speed of the production line, and even present packers with problems when it comes to maintaining the hygiene of their line.
Digital coding and marking technology in meat processing
SmithersPira has recently examined the benefits of digital coding for many industries including food manufacturing. Their analysis of other industries helps to highlight the advantages of digital coders within the meat processing sector.
For example, when looking at drug production lines, the requirement for frequent and error-free changeovers would appear to be a driver towards the implementation of digital technologies. This is no different in the meat processing industry, where errors in coding could lead to potentially costly downtime or scrappage.
The research also identifies how digital coders can help packers deliver consistent traceability. With late-stage customization for example, when codes need to be added or changed at the last moment, flexibility becomes a primary concern for packers – something that is not delivered as effectively with analogue coding technology. And with a reduction in errors as mentioned above comes more effective traceability.
Not only can all of this be delivered by digital coders, but the non-contact nature of the machinery can help to maintain hygiene and even deliver codes at faster speeds.
Therefore with fewer errors, flexibility, and faster, more consistent coding, digital technology represents a more cost effective solution for meat processors in the long term. And with uncontrollable variables such as adverse weather events, disease outbreaks and increased competition from seafood, meat processors need to deliver codes in an effective way that allows margins to be maintained.
To discover more about what digital coding technologies are suited for the meat industry, have a look at our meat processing industry white paper.
Want help analyzing the best use of analogue and digital coding technologies in your meat packing facility? We manufacture, sell and service both analogue and digital coding solutions. We work closely with customers like you to determine which coding solution is right for your manufacturing environment and application needs. Contact us today to get the conversation started.
Read a version of this article specific to European meat and poultry manufacturers.
Step one of a manufacturer’s game plan for packaging compliance is to understand your manufacturing code and print application requirements, in order to pick the product identification solution that is best for your needs.
What kind of information needs to be included in your print message? In many cases, especially in food and beverage, consumer-readable information must be included for buyers to determine freshness. In other instances, government and global regulatory agencies have set the requirements for manufacturers to adhere to. In order to meet packaging compliance, manufacturers may need specific product information, manufacturing codes, and barcode information, including:
Once specific print requirements and message placement are determined, manufacturers should also consider their application specifications. What type of packaging substrate does a manufacturer’s product or products use? What other processes in your material handling are occurring to take into consideration? And what kind of line speeds are they trying to achieve?
It will be important to understand which criteria your application falls under for a marking and coding partner to best match you with a solution that will deliver your desired results.
After determining the print requirements and application specifications, manufacturers can look at the available product identification solutions and select a technology that is right-sized for their material handling set-up.
A full portfolio range of product identification solutions are available to manufacturers including:
The tables below show how each type of product coding technology is suited to fill specific manufacturer print and application requirements.
In order to achieve packaging compliance, it’s necessary to pick the best marking and coding technology for the product in question. By taking the time to understand print message and application requirements, manufacturers can begin to compare compatible product identification methods and equipment.
Picking the best product identification solution is one step in a multi-step process to achieve packaging compliance. After the information has been applied to your product, message validation is the next step.
Ensuring manufacturing codes are printed on products is not enough by itself to achieve packaging compliance. The codes need to be validated to make sure they are present, accurate, and scannable.
There have been many advancements in product identification and machine visioning technology that have enabled manufacturers to automate the monitoring of real-time print quality. Scanners and vision systems are common components added to the production line postprint to inspect and report any illegible codes or incorrect stock.
Manufacturers know their requirements best, and working with a partner that offers a portfolio of all types of product coding technology will give you a fair assessment of the best solution for your needs. It’s also wise to choose someone who can provide support beyond installation for maintenance and servicing as age and wear and tear occur on your equipment. A reliable partner will also provide training for your maintenance staff should you choose to be as self-sufficient as possible.
However, there are still more steps to ensure manufacturers achieve packaging compliance.
Learn more about the other key considerations Diagraph recommends for guaranteeing packaging compliance:
Discover which Diagraph solution is right for your application by completing our short technology assessment. Click here to complete the assessment.
Download the full whitepaper, “Pallet Labeling: The Final Step In Your Production Tracking Process”
The final step in your production process can often easily be overlooked. After rigorously completing all the upstream processing, packaging and coding processes, the final palletized product seems to be a small step before crossing the finish line. However, labeling at the pallet level is a crucial process for identifying palletized products being shipped to retailers.
Imagine this: You’re completing a custom job for products specific to one regional retail chain. To differentiate the pallets for the custom job from your standard products, you plan on printing the identifying batch information on the license plate label and applying it to the outside of the shrink-wrapped pallet. When the time comes, your shipment is sent to the retailer only to discover that the products sent are not the custom printed containers they ordered. Now not only is your relationship with this retailer tarnished, but you are on the hook for reprinting all of their products at your own cost.
This scenario might sound familiar if you’re still in the business of manually applying labels. Some level of human error is always a risk and it can be a costly one. Ensuring a consistent, accurate label on every pallet that leaves your facility doesn’t have to be a trying task. It is possible to guarantee proper label placement while also avoiding common safety issues often occurring from the entanglement of the labeler in the pallet shrink wrap.
Our pallet labeling experts at Diagraph have complied a helpful guide for assessing automated pallet labelers for your production line. This guide steps through the main questions you should ask when evaluating your pallet labeling automation process and reviews the top areas of consideration you should work through before you make any kind of investment.
Download the full whitepaper, “Pallet Labeling: The Final Step In Your Production Tracking Process”, here to learn more.
Pallet Labeling: The Final Step In Your Production Tracking Process
According to a recent PMMI Business Intelligence Report, the meat, seafood, and poultry packing industries are experiencing “a global boom” due to several factors including import and export opportunities expanding into new markets, growth in foodservice, and growth in ready meals. Food producers are rapidly moving to automate processing and packaging to be prepared to meet increased demand and be flexible enough to adapt to changing product coding requirements.
For food producers and processors with small character coding requirements, Diagraph offers the Linx 8900 Series Continuous Inkjet (CIJ) printer family. The 8900 Series is designed for maximum uptime and provides the flexibility to meet the demands of complex food manufacturing plants.
Moving towards an automated continuous inkjet coding solution can solve the following problems commonly found in the meat, poultry, and seafood manufacturing industry:
High manual labor costs: Consumer demand dictates changes in the packaging materials used for meat and seafood products. Flexible and clear packaging for shoppers to verify freshness and quality in-store, smaller portion sizes and clean labeling to indicate product varieties – i.e. GMO-free, grass-fed, etc. – leads to more changeovers and a need to produce high-quality, durable codes on a range of substrates. The costs associated with managing a large manual workforce are cited by many manufacturers in this industry as one of the highest expenses. Manufacturers are looking for automated processes that can be run with little to no training required and an easy-to-understand HMI to make product changeovers as effortless and error-free as possible.
How the Linx 8900 meets this challenge:
Food safety and sanitation issues: Threats of contamination are a constant worry in the meat, poultry and seafood industries. To integrate new automated machinery requires that the process reduces human handling and has clean-in-place and washdown capabilities.
How the Linx 8900 meets this challenge:
Maintenance downtime: Manufacturers want to continue to increase their throughput to fulfill growing demand. To keep production going, predictive maintenance features are essential in preventing unexpected shut downs for repairs, printhead cleanings or fluid refills.
Are you facing these challenges in your business? If you’re in need of a date, lot or batch coding printer, the Linx 8900 Series might be the right option to help you efficiently automate your meat, poultry or seafood packing operation. For more information, visit our Linx 8900 Series product specification page or arrange to see it in action by contacting us for a demonstration.
Source: PMMI Business Intelligence Report, 2017 Trends Shaping Meat, Poultry and Seafood Packaging and Processing
Many quality equipment manufacturers strive for an easy to use designation. When comparing the ease of use of products, nothing is simpler than distilling a process down to a single step. Diagraph focuses on delivering one touch solutions that make it easy for our customers to make the perfect mark.
When evaluating product coding solutions, it is important to consider the following:
Consumable replenishment is the most frequent type of product coding equipment intervention and finding a solution that offers a one touch process saves time, money and keeps work simple for operators.
The simple one touch design on our Linx 8900 Series small character and Thermal Jet high-resolution inkjet coders allows you to open the ink compartment with a simple press of the door. No tools, twisting or turning is required to access the compartments. Fluid cartridges easily slide in and out, with no need to spend time pouring fluids into the printer.
Our high resolution Thermal Jet printers feature easy “snap in/snap out” HP cartridge replacement.
The Diagraph IJ4000 high-resolution inkjet printer’s centralized ink delivery system provides a single point for fluid monitoring and replenishing. Because the Diagraph IJ4000 can drive up to four individual printheads, this centralized ink delivery system approach eliminates the need to monitor ink levels on individual printheads, guaranteeing that ink won’t run out at different times. Refilling the ink delivery system is also a one step process that can be performed while the printer is still running.
Coding equipment that allows for the configuration of operator screens enables manufacturers to put the printer functions most important for day-to-day operations right at their workers’ fingertips. This simplifies print message selection and allows operators to easily access saved printer configurations when preparing for production changeovers.
Interested in learning more about how you can save time and money by upgrading to easier to use product coding equipment? Speak with a Diagraph product identification expert today by calling 1.800.722.1125 or contacting us through the website.
By Chris Clarke, Linx Laser Sales Manager
A laser mark can be used as an important security feature to avoid the counterfeiting of your products.
Counterfeiting can be defined as illegally making something that imitates an authentic product. This could include consumer products such as handbags, watches and fashion clothing. It can also be consumables such as alcoholic spirits, cigarettes and pharmaceutical products.
Each year, thousands of counterfeit goods are seized. However, with the necessary tools becoming more accessible, the quality of counterfeit products have risen to a point where they are much harder to detect than ever before.
Counterfeiting is a global issue which continues to increase year over year. Some estimates state the international trade in counterfeit and pirated goods could reach close to $1 trillion by the end of the decade.
The impact of counterfeiting can affect the profitability of the legitimate company and its reputation. Fewer goods sold results in revenue declines. And the potential lower quality of the counterfeited goods can also negatively affect a company’s reputation.
Refilling genuine packaging with counterfeit product also has a large impact. While this has typically been seen in the beverage industry, more recent examples include the practice of refilling CBD oil bottles and tinctures.
Anti-counterfeiting measures provide a method which can reduce or eliminate the ability of a counterfeiter to copy a product.
Coding and marking can be the surest way to protect against counterfeiting today. The best coding and marking solutions provide excellent protection against counterfeiters and the robust, permanent and complex codes they produce are increasingly the best defense.
What are the benefits of using laser coding to avoid counterfeiting?
Of all the different coding technologies, laser coding is often most attractive to companies concerned about counterfeiting because a laser coder can print permanent, high-quality codes at all line speeds onto a wide range of substrates including glass, coated metal, labels and plastic.
Laser codes can’t be rubbed off, making them the ideal solution for traceability and anti-counterfeiting.
Whether you are a small operation or a large-scale manufacturer, consider a laser-based marking solution to protect your business. It will provide you with high-quality codes, save you money in the long term and increase your protection against the counterfeiters who seek to profit from your brand.
Read our case study to find out how the Linx CSL30 laser provided product marking and brand protection for a CBD manufacturer.