Companies using non-contact high speed Continuous Inkjet (CIJ) technology to mark information (including expiration dates) on their product may not be aware that a key component of their marking system – the fluids – also have expiration dates. CIJ fluids need to be able to adhere to a variety of substrates and dry within seconds. Individual ink drops are manipulated by the application of a negative electrical charge. The technology works because the ink is conductive and able to accept the charge for proper placement to generate characters, barcodes, and graphics. CIJ fluids have expiration dates tied to the ability of the ink to maintain the charge for best print quality. Common maintenance of CIJ printers includes periodic refresh of fluids and filters to keep the printer running at peak performance with optimal print quality.
Linx Printing Technologies has introduced two new CIJ models to the 8900 Series, models 8920 and 8940. These new models offer Advanced System Monitoring which provides real time information about the health of the printer. It monitors printer operating parameters which can identify dirty air filters, dirty fluid filters, and ink degradation resulting from harsh environments and aging. Any CIJ printer under these conditions will experience increasingly poor print quality or even printer failure.
Advanced System Monitoring will provide a warning if any of the above items have been observed. Dirty air filters should then be cleaned to allow the printer to maintain proper cooling of electronics. Dirty ink filters can cause lack of pressure and increased wear on the pump, and ink degradation will result in poor print quality. Dirty ink filters and ink degradation indicate that it is time to change out the service module.
The system monitoring allows you to identify and alleviate problems with the printer before they result in poor print quality or costly downtime. This is predictive maintenance in its purest form and brings manufacturers closer to 100% avoidance of unscheduled downtime.
Function and benefit highlights of Linx Advanced System Monitoring
Still have questions about how you can prevent downtime activities in your production line? Call 1.800.722.1125 or email email@example.com about the Linx Advanced System Monitoring.
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
Learn more about the all new Linx 8900.
Do one of these two scenarios occur in your end of line production?
The Hidden Costs of End of Line Coding Whitepaper
Our goal at Diagraph is to make maintaining your coding and labeling equipment both proactive and predictable. “Proactive” because we believe that service interventions should always be planned, never a surprise. “Predictable” because we believe that service interventions should be done around your production schedule. When done properly, this helps eliminate equipment downtime, keeping your production running as smoothly as possible.
Over the past 125 years, we have found that our happiest customers are our most well supported customers. We offer a variety of maintenance agreements that allow customers to choose the right level of support they need for their coding and labeling equipment.
Customers with well-staffed maintenance departments often opt for our standard preventive maintenance agreements in which a Diagraph Factory Certified Technician performs recommended service interventions for the equipment. Customers with preventive maintenance agreements also enjoy Diagraph Insider pricing on parts and consumables.
Customers who want a higher level of support with service visits beyond regularly scheduled service intervals opt for a custom maintenance agreement. This helps establish an up-front cost for future maintenance that injects a level of predictability into their maintenance budget. Customers with custom maintenance agreements also enjoy Diagraph Insider pricing on parts and consumables beyond supplies that are already provided for as part of the agreement.
Customers who want total peace-of-mind opt for our all-inclusive maintenance agreement, our Premier Agreement. Our Premier Agreements not only cover routine preventive maintenance but also all repair costs, including parts and labor, in the event that something unexpected happens, whenever it happens, during the coverage of the agreement. This level of support is purchased for a specified number of years at the time of purchasing your Diagraph systems. Your maintenance budget doesn’t get any more predictable than that! The agreement can be paid for upfront or over time if you opt to roll it into a leasing program.
Because we believe that equipment operators and maintenance teams are integral to the long-term performance of coding and labeling equipment, we work customer training programs into all levels of our service agreements. Interested in learning more about how Diagraph can best support your product identification operations? 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.
The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is transforming manufacturing and a whole host of other industries. IIoT connects industrial devices that can monitor, collect, exchange, and analyze data, and leverage that data and connectivity to help you make smarter, faster and more effective business decisions.
Chances are, you’re already automating parts of your business -- but IIoT takes automation to a whole new level. Two major IIoT trends to watch for in 2020, according to Mobidev, are wireless connectivity and predictive analytics. If you aren’t leveraging IIoT as part of your marking and coding process, it’s a wasted opportunity.
Centralized printer management software connects wirelessly to your printing and coding equipment, creating a central database so that operators can review printing status and start jobs remotely using their mobile devices – among other capabilities. Centralized printer management software can also track prints and analyze operational history, to deliver valuable insights about your processes.
The robust interconnectedness of IIoT technology such as a centralized printer management system, can innovate the product identification process in a number of ways. For example, imagine being able to run your production processes without having to constantly keep an eye on your coding and labeling equipment.
Some other benefits of centralized printer management software include:
Here’s a checklist of common complexities and pains that manufacturers experience with production. If any of these experiences sound familiar, you could benefit from deploying printer management software in your facility:
Improving manufacturing processes is an ongoing challenge, and IIoT can help. For your marking and coding process, centralized printer management software offers many benefits and seamlessly automates a complex operation.
Take the next step to automating your coding and labeling operations. Try NEXTConnect™ printer management software for free for 90 days. Contact a Diagraph representative today at firstname.lastname@example.org for a trial license.