At Diagraph Marking & Coding, we like to work closely with customers to understand the cycles of their business. This allows us to develop and recommend a personalized plan to manage maintenance schedules and on-hand supplies for their coding and labeling operations.
Cyclical account trends help predict and plan for the following:
We believe that customers are best served when we can partner in every aspect of their coding and labeling operations. This holistic approach allows us to maximize efficiencies while driving tangible value throughout a long-term partnership. Let us be the coding and labeling experts so you don’t have to be.
Interested in working with Diagraph to keep your marking, coding, and labeling operations running as easily and efficiently as possible? Speak with a Diagraph representative today by calling 1.800.722.1125 or contacting us through the website.
TO CELEBRATE 125th ANNIVERSARY, DIAGRAPH INTRODUCES NEW GLOBAL STRATEGY
DEDICATED TO MAKING MARKING, CODING & LABELING EASY
World´s Oldest Coding Company Stays Modern with Strategic Shift Across All Aspects of Its Business
Diagraph Marking & Coding (www.diagraph.com), an ITW Company, announces the rollout of a new global strategy tightly focused on making package marking, coding and labeling easy.
Diagraph´s new brand identity focuses every aspect of the company´s business on providing hassle-free marking, coding and labeling for customers. This is achieved through an unwavering commitment to three core brand values – reliability, partnership and simplicity.
Far from an isolated marketing exercise, the new brand values represent the culmination of years of careful listening to customer priorities and a comprehensive top to bottom overhaul of Diagraph´s entire business structure. Moving forward, all aspects of the company´s business (including new product development, customer service, billing, delivery and human resources) are being driven by a shared commitment to providing products that are easy to use and being a company that is easy to work with.
Top to Bottom Brand Reorganization
As part of this new strategy, sister companies within the ITW Marketing & Coding Group will be rolled into the Diagraph brand.
Trident, the inventor of the world´s only repairable and longest lasting piezoelectric print engine, and Norwood inventor of the world´s first hot stamp imprinter for the food industry will become part of Diagraph Marking & Coding. The Trident name, respected worldwide and synonymous with rugged industrial design will remain the product brand name for piezoelectric print engines. Norwood Marking Systems will be completely consolidated into Diagraph with all new thermal transfer technology being produced under the Diagraph name.
This strategic focus on making marking, coding, and labeling easy will be rolled out across Diagraph’s operations worldwide, including Diagraph Mexico, Diagraph Asia, and Diagraph’s European operations through Allen Coding. Additionally, the Diagraph Global Partner Network of certified distributors will benefit from forthcoming products, programs, and services– extending the benefits of this new strategy to all Diagraph technology users.
Strategy in Action
In the weeks and months ahead, customers will see the launch of a number of new products, services and logistical enhancements all designed to make product marking easy.
Printing systems have been designed for market-leading uptime. Interventions are minimal, tool-less where possible and simplified with the goal of minimal touches for routine items like message editing, consumable replenishment and filter changes. New product development is focused on machine level communications and connectivity, with an emphasis on simplifying diagnostics and increasing uptime through preventive and predictive maintenance.
A comprehensive service offering underscores Diagraph´s desire to partner with its customers in all aspects of their coding and labeling operations, allowing customers to remain focused on their business. Service programs have been designed to match the skill level of customer maintenance teams.Levels range from "DIY" to "never lift a finger". Pro-active need anticipation and one-call-resolutions are guiding goals behind all service programs.
Additionally, customers will notice Diagraph´s new modern logo, updated visual identity and newly updated website (www.diagraph.com).
Context: 125 Years of Thinking Ahead
Diagraph, the world´s oldest product marking company, is celebrating its 125th Anniversary in 2018. The company has stayed relevant for over 100 years by anticipating industry trends and strategically realigning the brand to meet evolving market needs.
This approach has allowed Diagraph to remain at the forefront of global product marking needs with an impressive array of breakthrough technologies including: the world´s first stencil cutting machine (1893), the world´s first circular stencil cutting machine – the Diagraph (1902), the world´s first roll coder – the DiCoder (1969), the world´s first integrated valve jet technology (1986), the world´s first high resolution piezoelectric barcode print engine – Trident technology (1990), the world´s first centralized ink delivery system design for high resolution inkjet (1996), the world´s first automated cleaning system for high resolution inkjet technology (2002) and the world´s first all-electric automated labeling system platform (2008).
Diagraph´s new global strategic commitment to making it easy for manufacturers to make the perfect mark on their product represents a new chapter in Diagraph´s forward-looking leadership.
There is a great debate in the packaging technology industry around the core driver of automated labeling equipment. Which is a superior labeling power source — pneumatic air or electric? Pneumatic labeling systems are built around timing-based commands that drive label movements based on the reliability of the pneumatic air supply, while all-electric labeling systems are built around real time data-based commands that allow for total control of the labeling process.
The difference between the two approaches is night and day — like the difference between VHS and high-resolution digital streaming technology. The more that manufacturers understand the advantages of all-electric labeling, the more pneumatic systems will go the way of VHS tapes and rotary phones.
Every labeling system, regardless of core technology, can incorporate sensors for feedback. Recall the times you have seen a product strike a pneumatic labeler’s actuator arm while moving down the packaging line. This happens all too often with pneumatic labelers because the control of the label feed and actuator arm is not reacting to real-time feedback from sensors, it is following pre-programmed timing commands and relying on the programmed settings for the pneumatic air supply (regardless of the actual pressure in real-time).
Free from the timing control constraints found in pneumatic air powered machines, Diagraph’s all-electric labeling systems can interpret feedback from smart sensors in real-time to allow for total control of the label throughout transit. Combining strategically placed sensors with brushless DC servomotors allows Diagraph’s labeling systems to operate with extreme precision, guaranteeing one-to-one label-to-product matching time after time. The all-electric, servo-driven actuator maintains speed consistency, while “smart” sensors confirm that a label is present for application and even provide the ability to control impact on the product being labeled. The system doesn’t have to rely on inconsistent air pressure to manage this process.
Another advantage of the all-electric method over the pneumatic air method centers around the tamp pad. Pneumatic driven label applicators utilize venturi vacuum technology to control the transit of the label from the tamp pad to the product. Nearly the entire surface of a pneumatic machine’s tamp pad needs to be covered by the label to maintain proper suction. Unlike pneumatic machines, Diagraph’s all-electric label applicators utilize an electric fan to create vacuum, allowing Diagraph labelers to accommodate multiple label sizes utilizing a single tamp pad. This saves time during label size changeovers as well as money.
With more than 120 years in the marking and coding industry, Diagraph has a rich history of providing highly durable and reliable labeling and inkjet solutions. Diagraph was the first to offer all-electric labeling solutions to handle all modes of label application including tamp, swing and tamp-blow. The result is a robust lineup of automated labeling solutions that offer benefits only found in all-electric systems that don’t compromise on labels sizes or performance.
According to PMMI’s 2017 Trends in Food Processing Operations, “Four out of five companies have more than 100 product SKUs and over half predict SKUs will continue to increase, driving the need for faster changeover.”
A number of factors contribute to the drastic rise in SKUs, like company acquisitions and portfolio merging, flavor variety, count variety and retailer-specific case sizes, to name a few. Managing an increasing number of SKUs is costly for snack food manufacturers, especially when a bulk of them only contribute a small portion to their bottom-line profit. Constant starting and stopping of production lines to changeover a new product run means more downtime in a manufacturer’s operations.
On-the-go lifestyles, practiced commonly amongst the Millennial generation, have increased the need for convenient packaging:
A greater emphasis on healthy options has also increased the number of recipe variations, causing more SKUs to be made for tracking purposes. Consumers want to be able to recognize the ingredients in their products, known as “clean labeling”, giving rise to popular snacks like popcorn, breakfast bars, pretzels and others to have variations such as:
In addition to having access to ranges of food products in virtually any shopping setting – retail chains, convenient stores, grocery stores and department stores – consumers are also demanding to have the ability to order their snacks and other groceries online. Different distribution channels are assigned different SKUs for manufacturers to have visibility into tracking purchasing. On the fulfillment end of the supply chain, it is of the utmost importance that cases sitting in the warehouse of online distribution centers are clearly labeled with the correct product information to ensure accurate customer order fulfillment.
For instances when skilled labor workers do not speak the primary language of your printer settings, these barriers can be dealt with through advanced line setting features in the user interface of marking and coding technologies. More and more, interfaces for coders and labelers are moving towards the look and feel of a smartphone – with recognizable icons instead of text. For operations with multiple production lines to accommodate different products, the name of the product can be replaced with an image of the actual product for quick recognition. This simplified naming method for line settings reduces the user error brought about by language gaps.
There are a couple of levels in which SKU proliferation can be managed in an automated way through your coding and labeling printers:
1) Storing messages at the machine level with meaningful names to alleviate mistakes during changeover. For example, naming your message “Gluten Free Crackers” versus “Crackers”.
2) Message retrieval from a database through barcode scanning goes a step further through verification, ensuring that the message on the secondary cases matches the primary product information.
You can make the greatest impact on your operations, including managing SKUs, when you partner with a solutions provider to design your entire marking and coding operation around this objective. With your main requirements and unique specifications in mind from the start, it is possible to integrate a coding and labeling solution that not only works seamlessly in your production line but can add additional value by automating the SKU management process and reducing downtime.
Interested in more forward-looking trends and topics affecting manufacturers in the snack food industry? Download our free whitepaper, 2018: Innovations in Snack Food Packaging, for a full analysis of how these changes will impact manufacturers, packagers and retailers.
2018: Innovations in Snack Food Packaging
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.
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.