We understand that manufacturers are often faced with a number of factors that contribute to inefficient operations including under-skilled labor, lack of automation and aging equipment. As a trusted partner and a manufacturer ourselves, we believe in making it as easy as possible for our customers to implement marking and coding solutions so they can focus on what really matters – making the best product possible.
For a personal care and beauty products manufacturer with seven lines of Linx 4900 continuous inkjet units, they began to question the longevity of the systems. While the systems continued to run and perform, the year over year increase of service costs were a direct reflection of the age of the systems.
Pleased with the consistent performance of the Linx 4900 systems, the Maintenance Manager turned to the upgrade of the 4900: the Linx 8900. Through testing this potential replacement on one of their lines, the Maintenance Manager discovered that not only was the 8900 system solving their issues with frequent servicing but the easy-to-use menu settings made day-to-day use more intuitive for the operators.
Less scheduled maintenance, less printhead cleaning and less fluid use than the prior systems made the decision to upgrade all lines to the Linx 8900 CIJ systems a simple choice. What really sealed the deal were the substantial savings realized when the customer calculated their cost of ownership analysis if all lines were to upgrade their CIJ units.
Is your aging marking and coding equipment starting to bleed you on servicing and fluid costs? Aging equipment requires more manpower to maintenance and drains financial resources that should be spent on growing your business. At Diagraph we believe our customers’ time is valuable and shouldn’t be spent on rework involved with date code printers or case coders.
Download our case study brief to find out how much this personal care products manufacturer started saving annually when they upgraded their aging CIJ equipment.
Interested in the differences between the Linx 4900 and the Linx 8900? Download our comparison datasheet to learn how upgrading the Linx 4900 printer saves time and money.
When looking at purchasing small character continuous ink jet coding equipment, it’s important to take a step back and look at the total cost of ownership. As consumers, we have fallen into the habit of looking at the sticker price, no matter if it’s a car, dishwasher, or ink jet printer and immediately formulating an opinion based on the price tag. “It’s too expensive” or “it costs more than other ones just like it” might be typical reactions when finding something that looks like it’s priced higher than similar looking, competitive models. And it’s easy to understand why we do that…and we ALL do that. Typically, it’s a large purchase. Or in the case of buying something for business, it’s a capital expenditure, and the purchase needs to be justified. However, if you want to find the true cost of what you’ll spend, you have to look at more than just the initial purchase price, or “perceived price” of any item…you’ll need to look at the total cost of ownership. Doing a proper cost analysis may take a little time and effort, but it’s time well spent. It can save you in both dollars and “sense” later on.
With the purchase of a small character continuous ink jet (CIJ) printer, there are three main areas when considering the total cost:
1. Purchase Price 2. Maintenance & Production Downtime Costs 3. Consumables & Parts Costs
Again, the first and most obvious indicator of pricing comes from the purchase price of the item. And there’s a pretty healthy range of pricing and options when it comes to CIJ printers. Make sure you are comparing equivalent features and options when looking at printers head to head. And if CIJ printers are designed to print, whether it be alphanumerics; date codes; batch codes; lot codes; bar codes; graphics or logos, what makes one different from the other? They all still print the code, right?
The old adage, “you usually get what you pay for” greatly comes into play with CIJ printers, just like it does with automobiles. The similarities are uncanny. Every automobile, when it came off the showroom floor, was designed with at least one commonality in mind: to get you from point A to point B. But think about the vehicles you’ve owned. Hasn’t there been one that drove better, last longer, provided more reliability than others that you’ve had? It’s the same with CIJ printers. They’re all designed to come off the showroom floor, or in this case out of the box, and “drive” or print. However, just like your favorite vehicle, there is a difference from one CIJ to the next, on how it drives, how long it lasts, how reliable it is over time. And in the end, just like an automobile, you usually get what you pay for. In a sense, you can “pay now or pay later”. (“Pay now” meaning the initial cost may seem more expensive, but over time will be minimized by less maintenance, less downtime, less headaches. Or “pay later” meaning a lower cost initially, but over time more expense through frequent maintenance, more downtime, more headaches.
After purchase price, we need to look at an area that may be thought about the least, but arguably should be considered the most. It’s the categories that we don’t automatically think about when we think about “price”, but these are a very important part of the equation when adding up to the total cost of ownership.
Some important questions to ask while comparing CIJ printers:
Do you see the reoccurring theme? Let’s face it, time is money. And the time that your production line is not running is costing your company money. Ask any Maintenance Manager who oversees a CIJ printer on the production line about their joys or pains. Depending on the CIJ printer, you’ll either hear “I press the go button in the morning for start-up, I press the red button in the afternoon for go home, and the time in-between I have no problems.” Or you’ll hear responses like, “my CIJ printer takes forever to start-up, I have to clean the printhead daily, I have to manually make adjustments to the printhead, it’s a mess.” So one of the factors that needs to be added in to the total cost of ownership is time. How long does the printer take to get up and running? What’s involved? How much time is spent daily on maintaining the printer, or more specifically, the printhead? Are manual adjustments to the printhead needed in order to maintain print quality throughout the day?
Is the printhead your friend or foe? For example, if daily printer startups takes 10 minutes every day x 7 days week x 52 weeks/year, that’s an average of over 60 hours spent just on getting the CIJ printer to print! How much is your time worth per hour? Do the math. How important is it to have a CIJ printer that does not require daily printhead cleaning nor any manual adjustments made to the printhead? How much time could that save? How much money could that save! That too is part of the cost of ownership that needs to be factored in.
While not all CIJ printers require factory air, many today do. So another cost as part of your analysis is factory air. How often does the air filter need to be replaced? What is the cost of the air itself? $400/year? And what about portability or rather mobility. Some manufacturers like to have one printer to move to multiple production lines at different times of the day. If so, how easy is it to move the CIJ printer if there is an airline connected to it? Will I need an airline added in another location? If you’re comparing a CIJ printer that does use factory air vs. one that does not, make sure to take those items into consideration as well. They too are part of your cost.
Also, and without getting into the details, it is important to know how frequently your CIJ printer will require scheduled maintenance. You’ll want to understand from your CIJ vendor what is recommended by the manufacturer and factor that into your cost.
Make sure that you are comparing apples to apples when it comes to consumables. Ink consumption will be based on the volume used to mark your product. Solvent consumption has many variables based on ambient temperature and fluids management (i.e. are you wasting solvent on printhead cleaning, are you needing to refresh systems with new solvent when you haven’t finished your old solvent yet). Figuring how much ink and solvent your CIJ printer requires to put your mark on your product is part of the cost analysis. Also, in terms of purchasing fluids, make sure that you are comparing the volume of fluids per case. Some vendors will package and sell 6 bottles to a case; others will be 10 bottles to a case, so make certain you are looking at the total volume when looking at cost per case on consumables.
Replacement parts should be purchased from a manufacturer-approved source. Discount replacement parts (i.e. from a third party) may prove to be more costly due to increased maintenance & service costs.
So that’s basically it. The key to determining the total cost of ownership is to look at the total picture. And if you’re working with a reputable vendor of CIJ printers, they’ll alert you to this and even aid in figuring your total cost. The main thing to remember is that a CIJ printer with a higher purchase price does not make it a more expensive printer. In fact, it will probably save you money because of its quality, reliability, and longevity.
At the end of the day, what you’re really buying is value and peace of mind. If you have to continually stop your production line to babysit the CIJ printer because it’s time to add fluids, tweak the printhead, etc. on a printer that you saved a few thousand dollars on, you’re not saving money. With CIJ printers, you really do get what you pay for. Remember, it’s about dollars and “sense”.
And just like automobiles, you should be able to do a “test drive” of the CIJ printers before you purchase. A quality vendor will access your application needs, make a recommendation based on best-fit technology and provide you with a free, no-obligation demonstration of the CIJ printer on your production line. If they can’t or won’t do that, look elsewhere.
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.
Marking and coding equipment should help contract packagers improve productivity. Diagraph accomplishes this by keeping equipment intervention requirements for our product identification equipment to a minimum.
Diagraph’s coding and labeling equipment runs cleaner for longer between required interventions and withstands wear and tear, increasing its useful life. This leads to greater equipment uptime and a stronger return on investment over the life of Diagraph equipment.
The number of steps required for routine interventions as well as the length of time between those interventions is minimized. Product capabilities like automatic printhead cleanings help keep inkjet coders operating with optimal print quality for longer. Examining consumable replenishment practices and centralizing ink refills or providing a quick turn label stock webbing approach makes required interventions quicker and hassle-free.
Finally, quality materials and thoughtful engineering matter when it comes to the longevity of your equipment. Diagraph’s focus on impact resistant designs – whether it be an inkjet coder or a labeler – ensures long-term product reliability.
After making sure your product coding equipment is properly matched to your application and contract packaging environment, it is essential to make sure your line operators and maintenance staff know how to properly handle and maintain your equipment.
Diagraph’s equipment is designed to have fewer touchpoints to enable hassle-free installation, training and maintenance. These easy access touchpoints minimize the amount of time required and eliminate the need to access the entire system to perform maintenance or changeovers.
Because contract packagers regularly deal with worker turnover challenges, routine training to keep workers knowledgeable and able to be good stewards of your equipment is critical. We offer refresher-level training opportunities with each scheduled service visit from a Diagraph field service engineer. In addition, in-depth training is offered on location or at the Diagraph training facility in St. Charles, Missouri.
Our most successful customers partner with us to regularly evaluate and maintain their coding and labeling equipment. We perform routine equipment assessments, provide regularly scheduled service and develop long-term equipment upgrade plans.
Equipment is kept running longer and the need for unplanned interventions is reduced by staying ahead of wear-caused failures and by properly maintaining equipment. As with all things electro-mechanical, equipment performance will eventually impact production throughputs. We help you navigate the useful life of your equipment to determine when to repair and maintain a system and when to upgrade and benefit from performance and feature enhancements.
By working closely together, our account teams can help you develop a multi-year plan that provides measurable cost savings opportunities due to system efficiency gains and consumable usage optimization. These strategic audits also help customers strategically sequence system upgrades of their older technologies to avoid the sticker shock created if your product identification equipment fails at the same time.
Our goal is to always to make it easy for our customers to make the perfect mark. Find the right product for your application by completing this short assessment.
Call us today at 800.722.1125 to learn more about how Diagraph partners with manufacturers to achieve product identification and packaging compliance success.
Perfect Codes for the Personal Care Industry
Image is everything in the Personal Care industry and the companies producing cosmetics, toiletries, home fragrance and the like will spend a lot of time, energy and money in making sure their products look good. But regulations often require variable information such as expiration dates and batch codes to be added to the packaging. The required codes are usually designed to be discrete to help maintain a quality product image, but must be indelible, easily legible and visible. As a result, coding is a small but essential element in creating perfect packaging for personal care products.
Continuous Inkjet Coding (CIJ) may be an excellent solution to this particular coding need. CIJ technology uses fast drying solvent based inks, and produces small character codes in a non-contact process capable of accommodating high speed production lines.
CIJ Solvent based inks are designed to bond to a wide range of substrates. Shortly after printing, the solvent evaporates leaving a color mark. There are a variety of inks whose solvent bases (Acetone, MEK, Ethanol, etc.) have the correct properties to leave marks on packaging used for personal care products such as plastics, paper, coated chip board, and glass. Specialty inks are also available should the coding mark need to have a distinctive property, such as withstanding alcohol, adhering to flexible film, or being free of ketone. Counterfeiting is a common issue with designer cosmetics and fragrances. CIJ offers UV readable inks (clear inks that fluoresce under UV light) for applications requiring a higher level of security.
CIJ coders produce letters and numbers by placing a series of dots to create a character. Quality printing is achieved when the coder is able to keep up with the production line speeds. CIJ printers have options
for speed of marking and orientation of the print to ensure the mark looks as good as the rest of the product packaging.
A CIJ mark can be applied anywhere on a package to be as visible as you like. Because this is non-contact coding, printheads can be placed at any angle to product a print; from the bottom up, the side, or the top down. Additionally, the printheads have some options such as right angle or cut-away covers to allow them to fit into other packaging line machinery. With the ability to print on a large variety of substrates, at fast speeds, with premium print quality, and easy integration into the production line, CIJ is often the right solution for coding needs in the personal care industry.
To read more about solutions for the personal care industry, download Diagraph’s white paper.
What: The US food industry is the leader for flexible packaging with the market continuing to grow with an expected 3.9% CAGR and valuation of $392 billion by 2023. Flexible packaging currently accounts for 19% of the packaging market – second only to corrugated paper. Advancements in slider closures, fitments, and improved barrier properties are driving preferences amongst both manufacturers and consumers.
Why: The flexible packaging market has taken off due to a shift towards sustainability and consumer-friendly packaging. The adoption of flexible packaging is growing amongst manufacturers due to the ability to form flexible packaging on the spot from raw materials – saving time, cost, materials waste, and space. With advances in the recyclability and space savings when discarded compared to rigid packaging, consumers are developing a growing preference for flexible packaging options while the entire supply chain from manufacturer to retailer to consumer is realizing the extended shelf life benefits of innovative resealable closures.
Who: CPG and pharmaceutical manufacturers are responding to consumer demands by innovating with flexible packaging options for their products.
Industries of Interest: Food, Beverage, Pharmaceutical, Nutraceutical, Personal Care
• Convenient packaging, excellent barrier properties, and sustainable materials are all factors contributing to the continued growth of flexible packaging in the coming years, ProFood World (https://www.profoodworld.com/bi-library-article/us-flexible-packaging-reach-392-billion-2023?oly_enc_id=8131B4747801B1S)
• Growth of flexible packaging brings demand for innovation, Packaging World (https://www.packworld.com/growth-flexible-packaging-brings-demand-innovation)
• Seafood to drive growth in the converted flexible packaging sector through 2023, Seafood Source (https://www.seafoodsource.com/news/processing-equipment/seafood-to-drive-growth-in-the-converted-flexible-packaging-sector-through-2023)
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The importance of packaging compliance in the supply chain cannot be overlooked. Consumer packaged goods need to meet packaging compliance to adhere to global and government regulations and retailer standards for product safety. When manufacturers fail packaging compliance, they can be subject to significant penalties and fines, suffer loss of customers and reputation, suffer supply chain inefficiencies, and more.
In this blog series, we’ll break down how to achieve packaging compliance, naming four key considerations, and examining each of those aspects in detail.
There are a number of different product identification solutions available to manufacturers, such as:
It’s important to pick the best marking and coding technology for the product in question in order to achieve packaging compliance. By taking the time to understand print message and application requirements, manufacturers can begin to compare compatible product identification methods and equipment.
Ensuring manufacturing codes are printed on products is not enough by itself to achieve packaging compliance. The codes need to be checked to make sure they are present, accurate, and scannable. All three levels of message validation must be met to achieve packaging compliance.
If the code didn’t print on the package, packaging compliance is not achieved. If the code is present but the information printed is not accurate, packaging compliance is not achieved. If the code is present and accurate but is not scannable, packaging compliance is not achieved.
Incorrect date, batch, or barcodes applied to products can also be a result of human error. However, using a central database of product coding information to automate print message creation can minimize instances of user error. Companies can do the heavy lifting when it comes to variable print message editing and selection by utilizing:
Managing the integration of data down to the production floor allows for manufacturers to seamlessly and efficiently ensure the right information is being printed on the right products – ultimately helping manufacturers achieve automated compliance.
Achieving guaranteed packaging compliance requires more than selecting the most optimal product coding technology and the right level of message validation. To ensure high quality real-time manufacturing codes are printed consistently, proactive material handling best practices need to be in place. Improper material handling can cause codes to print incorrectly and inconsistently.
Proper material handling when working with coding equipment includes proactive measures such as:
Manufacturers also need material handling reject systems to sort out non-compliant packages. Once non-compliant packages have been identified, manufacturers can correct the packaging and improve their material handling process.
Failing packaging compliance can lead to unpleasant consequences, including supply chain inefficiencies, losing customers, negatively impacting company reputation, and potential fines and penalties from retailers and regulatory agencies. But by keeping these four key considerations in mind, your business can achieve guaranteed packaging compliance.
Have more questions about compliance? Talk with a Diagraph representative today.
Or, read more in-depth to discover what you need to know to select the right solution for your business in our next post, How to Pick the Best Product Identification Solution.