Shopping for a new case coder? Three factors to consider other than price…
Determining case coding costs is more involved than simply locating the sticker price. As it is, we are all prone to compare purchase prices and lean towards the least expensive model. However, when shopping for any case coding ink jet printer, there are three main factors you want to keep in mind.
We have all heard the saying “You get what you pay for,” and this rings especially true with ink jet printers. While they are all created to perform the same purpose, the differences can be seen in how they drive, reliability and longevity. Which makes you have to decide, do you want to pay more now for a higher quality machine, or pay later for costly repairs and downtime with a lesser machine?
Downtime & Maintenance Costs:
10 minutes to start up your printer each morning may seem like a brief time, but when you think about it, that is almost one hour per workweek. One hour per week that your production line is not running, and one hour per week of unnecessary labor costs. This adds up to be a significant amount of money very quickly.
Do not forget to account for routine maintenance. Do you have to shut down the production line in order to add solvents and inks? Or can these be added as needed without any disruption? Less downtime equals more production, which leads to a larger profit.
The last thing you need to take into consideration when purchasing your next printer is the cost of consumables such as inks, solvents and replacement parts. Think not only in terms of the price, but the frequency at which they need to be replaced.
Even though there may be a difference in sticker price initially, the total cost of ownership is what you should take into consideration. For a complete cost analysis on your next printer, contact us here.
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.
6 Factors to Consider when Choosing a Coding Solution for the Meat Processing Industry
Four Flexible Options to Enable Effective Large Character Ink Jet Case Coding Under Adverse Conditions
By Steve Liker, Product Manager – Large Character Ink Jet
Case coding would be so be simple if all factories were at ideal temperature, all flooring and transports were flat; there were no space limitations and all boxes were perfectly square. But that’s typically not the case. Diagraph offers four options to make their large character Impulse Ink Jet case coder flexible and capable of printing under adverse conditions.
Low temperature printhead controller, roller retraction bracketry, angled conveyor mount, and right angle mounts offer customers flexibility to satisfy their application needs.
1) Low Temperature Printhead Control for Cold Ambient Conditions
Printing onto dairy products, frozen vegetables and other heat sensitive products requires capability to control the printhead temperature and ink viscosity at low ambient temperatures. Diagraph offers a printhead module that has additional heaters and temperature control in environments as low as 32° F.
2) Roller Retraction Bracketry for Irregular Cartons
Boxes and trays are often not square and can shift on the conveyor. Diagraph have developed spring retractable brackets that position the printheads relative to the changing surface of the cartons. This enables regular and irregular cartons to roll smoothly past the printhead rather than sliding over guide rails. This eliminates production of corrugated dust that can clog printhead nozzles. It also controls the throw distance - a primary factor in the sharpness of ink jet print.
3) Angled Conveyor Mounts (ACM) for Angled Conveyors
For angled conveyors with slant from 0 – 90 degrees, Diagraph’s ACM printhead can meet the need. The printhead swivels and locks into place to print at any angle.
4) Right Angle Mount for Restricted Conveyor Space
This right angle printhead was designed by Diagraph for applications where little room is available at conveyor side for mounting. The print engine portion of the printhead is separated from the body and turned at 90 degree angle so that the conveyor-side space is minimized. And Roller Retraction Bracketry is compatible!
So if you are facing a carton coding application challenge, Diagraph offers flexible options for Large Character Coding.
Ink Jet printing enables variable information to be printed on multiple substrates including uncoated and coated corrugated cartons, gypsum, PVC piping, lumber and other materials. When choosing the ink to jet from your ink jet five criteria should be considered:
1) Substrate Type
The ink ultimately needs to contact the substrate, spread, dry and adhere with acceptable adhesion and durability. The substrate needs to be categorized as “porous” – absorbing the ink, or “non-porous” – ink spreading, but ink sits on the surface of the substrate. Inks printed onto porous substrates dry through absorption into the substrate fibers. Inks printed onto non-porous substrates dry through evaporation. Why not chose non-porous for all applications? Because the evaporative inks tend to require more maintenance than the less evaporative porous inks. Diagraph offers ink jet inks for both porous and non-porous substrates.
2) Dry Time and Adhesion
The choice of inks could be determined by the time period between printing and contacting conveyor rails and rollers or with contacting other cartons or products. Do some investigation taking into consideration conveyor speed and location of objects that may contact the print. For example, a carton is traveling at 100 feet per minute (20 inches per second). A roller is located 60 inches away and contacts the ink jet printed image. Therefore the dry time with acceptable adhesion must be less than 3 seconds to avoid chance of smudging. Diagraph has data on dry times and adhesion or could perform print samples on your substrate and measure the dry time and adhesion to help you chose the right ink.
Will the substrate ultimately be exposed to direct outdoor light or to indoor light? If it will be exposed to outdoor light for days or weeks at a time then “pigmented” inks are recommended. Pigments are particles of colorant in solution. Dyes are liquids in liquids. Particles tend to maintain lightfastness much better than dye colorants. Diagraph offers both dye based and pigment based inks with information available on the ink lightfastness.
Are you planning on printing text or barcodes? Since barcodes will be scanned and measured with a barcode scanner they require finer control over the dot spread than text. Dyes tend to spread more than pigment particles by wicking along the corrugated carton fibers. Therefore, pigmented inks may be your best choice for barcode printing.
You may wish to consider printing with spot colors to readily identify and differentiate your products. That way for example your employees and your customers can learn to identify the carton containing your lime flavored soda from afar by seeing the Green text. Diagraph offers multiple ink colors.
So when deciding on the ink jet inks consider the above criteria. Diagraph’s Customer Service Associates and Applications Engineers are also available to guide you through this ink decision process.
Five Key Elements to Ensure Optimal Reliability and Long Life in Your Case Coding Ink Jet Printhead
Today, many companies take advantage of the benefits of inkjet printing of barcodes, graphics and text directly onto secondary packages. Inkjet printing can cost up to eight times less than labels. At the same time having an inkjet printer on the factory floor allows for greater printing flexibility and requires less space than an inventory of assorted pre-printed secondary packages.
Stainless steel construction, automatic maintenance, a repairable design, demonstrated long lifetime and quality ink compatibility are five key elements to look for in an inkjet printhead.
Visit www.diagraph.com for a complete line up of our case coding ink jet printers.
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