Capital expenses can be tough to get approved and can hold up much needed upgrades at the plant level. In fact – old, faulty, and inadequate equipment can cause costly disruptions to production, impacting the bottom line more significantly than the cost to upgrade. For manufacturers without the available capital to invest in purchasing new equipment, leasing can be a great option.
Just as it puts manufacturers’ minds at ease to have a reliable traceability mark on their products, it greatly simplifies accounting processes to have a predictable monthly payment for product identification equipment such as inkjet printers, labelers, thermal transfer printers, and laser coders. Flexible leasing options for coding and labeling equipment makes this possible.
The same way one would trade-in to lease a larger vehicle to accommodate a growing family, leasing can be a great option to help plants expanding their production keep up with demand without breaking the bank. When choosing to lease, manufacturers can consider covering hard costs for the equipment alone or can opt into including soft costs for things such as preventive maintenance and on-site technical support into their monthly payments. Manageable monthly payments that bundle the equipment, consumables and parts and services needed to keep coding and labeling operations running smoothly make it accessible for even the most budget-conscious facilities to benefit from the latest equipment for coding their products.
If you’re exploring the possibility of leasing your product identification equipment for printing your barcodes, date codes, lot codes, etc. in real-time, then look for a program with the following characteristics:
Diagraph’s program is available for all products in our portfolio. We’ll help you to get your monthly lease program started. Let us know what you’re looking for to get a customized leasing quote.
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:
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.
If you haven’t had a top-to-bottom review of your coding and labeling operations within the past 5 to 10 years, you are probably overdue for a comprehensive product identification site audit. Technological advancements have allowed for manufacturers to achieve greater efficiencies and accuracy with their product coding efforts for all levels of packaging – from primary products all the way to pallet level labeling.
Diagraph can take the guess work out of coding and labeling operational best practices by offering free comprehensive site audits. We make a series of recommendations that span anywhere from making modifications to current equipment or practices for enhanced productivity to the complete retooling of your product identification operation to help you achieve your production and packaging compliance goals.
Our site audits include a close review of the following key areas:
After reviewing these key areas and other aspects of your packaging compliance requirements, we provide a site audit report with simple recommendations that you can implement immediately as well as bigger picture recommendations that can be implemented overtime with planning and support. At Diagraph, our goal is to make it easy for our customers to achieve the perfect mark on their products. Regular site audits and account reviews are just one of the ways we work in partnership with our customers.
by Michelle Chamberlain
Marking and coding products correctly is an essential part of the supply chain. Consumer packaged goods must meet packaging compliance to adhere to global and government regulations and retailer standards for product safety. Managing the printing of product codes remotely - with the right tools and software - not only eliminates waste associated with reduced time and motion along with reduced defects from key stroke errors, but also minimizes physical interaction risk to workers. You can monitor and manage your print production remotely by automating your marking, coding and labeling process. Centralized printer management software like NEXTConnect from Diagraph can help you with this.
Without NEXTConnect, each printer must be updated manually. However, with NEXTConnect software to monitor and manage your printers remotely, the need to physically touch the printers is removed - a huge benefit during Covid-19.
Common challenges manufacturers experience with production in normal circumstances are compounded during a disaster. These include:
4 major attributes of centralized printer management software, like NEXTConnect, that facilitate remote work
Some other benefits of centralized printer management software include:
With the NEXTConnect app, you can manage and monitor print production right from your smartphone, desktop or tablet. NEXTConnect works with iOS, Android and Windows.
Keeping production in essential industries is crucial and minimizing the risks of exposure to Covid-19 is equally important during this challenging time. Using a centralized printer management software suite that will allow you to control the process remotely is a vital tool to stay both safe and productive now and in the future.
Want to know more? Contact us to schedule a demonstration of NEXTConnect.
It is estimated by the US Grocery Manufacturers Association that over half of recalls cost companies over $10M. In addition to the financial implications, recalls for defective products could be harmful to the health of your customers and ultimately damaging to your reputation. These two major factors support the necessity of product identification in the form of date codes, lot codes and batch codes to track and trace in the event of a recall.
Two common automated marking and coding solutions for food packaging are continuous inkjet and laser coding. Which solution best fits your application is dependent on a number of factors. To help you in this evaluation process, we have outlined a few consideration questions:
Continuous Inkjet Considerations
Continuous inkjet (CIJ) can mark onto virtually any substrate type, rounded or flat, ranging from plastic bags, glass jars, metal cans, paper cartons and more. Because of the variety of ink types and colors available, you can achieve a high-contrast mark on nearly any color packaging.
Laser Coding Considerations
Laser, by comparison, creates a permanent mark on most surfaces although not all packaging types will guarantee a high-contrast batch, lot or date code. The etched marks from laser will last, although on clear plastics and glass the coding may not be as easily visible as black ink from CIJ.
Continuous Inkjet & Laser Coding Considerations
Accurate batch, date and expiration codes are essential for customers and retailers alike. If your production lines perform multiple changeovers for different products each shift, this leaves room for errors. Leading CIJ and laser solutions have features for storing unique, variable messages and icon-based interfaces that can be operated without extensive training for message creation and retrieval. Reliable, accurate coding methods will keep your line running in uptime and ensure speedy recall of products in that event.
If your products have high retail value, they may be susceptible to counterfeiting. There are internal tracking and security codes that can be made on a product discreetly, that are only visible under certain circumstances by the manufacturer to verify authenticity and product origin. For CIJ, one option is security UV inks that are nearly invisible until exposed to UV light.
The low-contrast, permanent marks created from laser etching are a benefit in the case of anti-counterfeiting codes. Codes can be applied to packaging in an inconspicuous location without compromising the appeal of the packaging design.
These are only a few considerations to keep in mind when selecting between continuous inkjet and laser coding for your food or beverage packaging line. For more information on how coding ties into food safety and traceability, download our full whitepaper.
Coding for Safety & Traceability in the Food Supply Chain: A Comparison of Continuous Inkjet & Laser Coding
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.