The meat packaging industry has coding and traceability requirements similar to other food industries, yet the cold and humid environments indicative of the industry can pose additional challenges for packaging equipment not experienced in more temperate facilities.
In the past, a typical minimal requirement for meat packaging would be batch and/or lot numbers and “best-by” date codes. Moving forward, code requirements are becoming increasingly complex and often may include allergen information, animal reference codes, genetic modification information, and country of origin.
Many meat and poultry packing plants make use of Continuous Ink Jet (CIJ) printing technology to meet the coding requirements on primary packaging. CIJ is cost-effective with a wide range of fluids to ensure coding adhesion and legibility of the mark in refrigerated environments on both porous and non-porous packaging.
With the meat industry known for particularly harsh processing and packing environments, small character CIJ printers must maintain optimal print quality throughout use. The Linx 8900 Series CIJ printers are uniquely designed to withstand these tough conditions.
Superior Print Performance Monitoring – Print performance measures like time of flight and viscosity readings are performed directly in the printhead, automatically adjusting the ink and solvent mix in real-time to guarantee optimal print quality throughout use. Monitoring these critical readings in the printhead as opposed to in the printer body provides a more accurate analysis of the environment at the exact location of where the code is being applied – this guards against the frequent clogging issues experienced in cold temperature and high humidity environments by competitor technologies.
With ever changing coding requirements, the flexibility to easily modify codes is critical. The Linx 8900 Series CIJ printers have features designed for ease of use in cold environments to keep your coding on track.
Large 10” touch screen – The Linx 8900 Series features a highly visible color capacitive touchscreen that can be accessed while wearing gloves; a real time saver in a refrigerated environment.
Icon Based User Interface – Similar to smart phones, the Linx 89xx Series has an intuitive user interface for easy to use message selection and prompted content editing.
Customizable carousel – You can place your most used editing and printer functions on the home screen. Reduce costly coding errors by minimizing steps to change messages by making use of prompted fields.
If you’re in the meat or poultry packing industry and want to know more about continuous inkjet solutions for your production, call 1.800.722.1125 or email email@example.com for more information.
NEW DIAGRAPH IJ4000 INKJET SYSTEM COMBINES
INDUSTRY-LEADING BARCODE DECODE-ABILITY AND INDUSTRY-LEADING RELIABILITY
(March 1, 2016) – Diagraph (www.diagraph.com) announces the launch of the IJ4000 high-resolution large character impulse inkjet system for printing alphanumerics, barcodes and graphics onto porous substrates. The cost-competitive printer combines industry-leading barcode decode-ability, industry-leading system durability and industry-leading print throw distance with the lowest maintenance requirements on the market.
Industry-Leading Barcode Decode-ability & Print Throw Distance
Three unique features combine to allow the IJ4000 to provide best-in-the-market print consistency on challenging packaging lines where boxes are rarely perfectly uniform.
First, precision print placement is ensured by a unique roller retractor and a digital level sensor accelerometer. The roller retractor provides a consistent gap between the print surface and print engine. A green LED light on the digital level accelerometer indicates when the print engines are perfectly aligned and perpendicular with the packaging material to be printed- regardless of floor variations. This ensures high-quality print and optimal readability for bar codes.
Secondly, the print engines of the IJ4000 provide throw distance of ½ inch for alphanumerics and an industry-leading ¼ inch for barcodes. This is double the 1/8 inch throw distance currently provided in the market for readable barcodes. In addition to ensuring high-quality print, the increased throw distance also reduces the impact of corrugate dust, glue and contaminants resulting in reduced maintenance needs.
Finally the unique design of the print engine ensures print is up to 15% darker than the last generation offering.
Combined these features allow the IJ4000 to offer a 35% improvement on barcode decode-ability compared to competing systems available in the market.
Industry-Leading Flexibility & Ease of Use
The IJ4000 was carefully designed based on customer feedback for optimal ease of use. The system features a unique HMI (Human Machine Interface) wherein the print engine, encoder and photocell connections run directly and cleanly to the connection hub. This allows the HMI to be moved to a remote location for greater ease of use. The HMI can be as far away as 100 meters when connected via Ethernet and an unlimited distance when connected through a Network.
The system offers a great deal of flexibility with both on-floor and in-office editing capabilities. The intuitive interface provides the option of use with a personal PC, eliminating the need for a separate controller and reducing cost by as much as 15%.
The integrated 10.2 inch touch screen controller interface eliminates the need for a separate keyboard, thereby reducing the system footprint. The system print head is also smaller in all three dimensions and further flexibility is provided by a dovetail track on both side of the print engines for ease of mounting on either side of the conveyer.
While many printing technologies advertise that they are ‘Unicode-ready’ they often mean that language characters are used as locked images. This is not the same as true real-time, variable print Unicode capabilities. Diagraph’s IJ4000 printers were specially designed to provide real-time printing in 11 languages.
Lowest Maintenance Requirements in the Market
The IJ4000 was carefully designed to provide the lowest maintenance requirements of any similar system in the market today.
The printer features a unique single point ink supply that can feed as many as four different print engines. This greatly reduces downtime and simplifies the fluid refill process as it is not necessary to monitor and maintain individual ink supplies.
The system´s unique digital level accelerometer has a sensor which indicates if the print engine has tilted plus or minus 1.5 degrees both for ease of installation and to assure the print gap between print head and carton is consistent along the entire print image.
A new auto-channel purge allows all 256 printhead channels to be quickly checked by a simple push of a button on the print head right on the packaging line. Maintenance is further simplified by hard-mounted, easily accessible filters and a centralized connection point that simplifies and reduces cabling requirements.
Taken together, these features allow the IJ4000 to provide as much as 30% less downtime than alternative technologies.
Industry-Leading Print Engine Durability
Featuring unique-in-the-industry stainless steel construction, and patented repairable (rather than disposable) design, shock resistance capability and automatic maintenance modules, the Trident print engines in the IJ4000 provide industry-leading durability. Whereas traditional print engines might need to be replaced as often as every few months, Trident technology can last as long as 10 years or 300 billion firings. This allows the IJ4000 to provide industry-leading durability with projected lifespan being as much as 5 times longer than competitive technologies.
“The IJ4000 is the result of over 5 years of intensive research into user needs,” said Steve Liker, LCIJ Product Manager at Diagraph. “It was thoughtfully designed with a number of unique-in-the-market features to provide customers with significant new performance benefits at the same price point as our last generation technology. We are proud to offer significantly more value at the same competitive price.”
The new print engines are reverse compatible to older IJ3000 systems for existing customers and are available with two inch print height. Technology featuring market-leading four inch print height is anticipated to launch in 2016 and will be forward compatible with the IJ4000 system.
About Diagraph, An ITW Company
Diagraph, An ITW Company is a leading manufacturer and distributor of marking, coding and labeling systems and supplies, and has been in the product identification industry for over 120 years. Diagraph’s products include all-electric printer applicator labeling systems, LINX continuous ink jet and laser coders, large character ink jet printing systems and thermal transfer overprinting systems.
For more information, call 800-722-1125, send emails to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit diagraph.com.
According to a recent PMMI Business Intelligence Report, the meat, seafood, and poultry packing industries are experiencing “a global boom” due to several factors including import and export opportunities expanding into new markets, growth in foodservice, and growth in ready meals. Food producers are rapidly moving to automate processing and packaging to be prepared to meet increased demand and be flexible enough to adapt to changing product coding requirements.
For food producers and processors with small character coding requirements, Diagraph offers the Linx 8900 Series Continuous Inkjet (CIJ) printer family. The 8900 Series is designed for maximum uptime and provides the flexibility to meet the demands of complex food manufacturing plants.
Moving towards an automated continuous inkjet coding solution can solve the following problems commonly found in the meat, poultry, and seafood manufacturing industry:
High manual labor costs: Consumer demand dictates changes in the packaging materials used for meat and seafood products. Flexible and clear packaging for shoppers to verify freshness and quality in-store, smaller portion sizes and clean labeling to indicate product varieties – i.e. GMO-free, grass-fed, etc. – leads to more changeovers and a need to produce high-quality, durable codes on a range of substrates. The costs associated with managing a large manual workforce are cited by many manufacturers in this industry as one of the highest expenses. Manufacturers are looking for automated processes that can be run with little to no training required and an easy-to-understand HMI to make product changeovers as effortless and error-free as possible.
How the Linx 8900 meets this challenge:
Food safety and sanitation issues: Threats of contamination are a constant worry in the meat, poultry and seafood industries. To integrate new automated machinery requires that the process reduces human handling and has clean-in-place and washdown capabilities.
How the Linx 8900 meets this challenge:
Maintenance downtime: Manufacturers want to continue to increase their throughput to fulfill growing demand. To keep production going, predictive maintenance features are essential in preventing unexpected shut downs for repairs, printhead cleanings or fluid refills.
Are you facing these challenges in your business? If you’re in need of a date, lot or batch coding printer, the Linx 8900 Series might be the right option to help you efficiently automate your meat, poultry or seafood packing operation. For more information, visit our Linx 8900 Series product specification page or arrange to see it in action by contacting us for a demonstration.
Source: PMMI Business Intelligence Report, 2017 Trends Shaping Meat, Poultry and Seafood Packaging and Processing
While the utmost care is taken to ensure that meat for human consumption is processed in hygienic environments, the law requires that meat packs are coded for traceability purposes; partly with the aim of enabling the consumer to have greater confidence in the food on their plate.
Packers need to ensure that the codes they deliver onto meat products can give customers and those further along the supply chain all the information they need to trace where it has come from effectively. With the meat and poultry industry ranking as the largest segment in U.S. agriculture, total industry production accounted for more than 92.9 billion pounds of meat and poultry product in 2012. The need to track meat products all the way through the supply chain is crucial to the health of the industry as a whole.
Coding and marking for meat packaging
Coding machines have the ability to deliver traceability information such as the source of the meat, or where it was processed, on products and their packaging, helping to ensure that consumers have peace of mind when they purchase meat (or other food).
Meat processors have various ways in which they can deliver traceability and peace of mind through coding. Whether these are print and apply barcode labels, accomplished using high-resolution continuous inkjet technology or other measures, packers need to have confidence that their coding and marking printers can deliver the right information on products that will stay put – whatever the substrate.
Human error – for example selecting the wrong message to be printed, or entering a code incorrectly - can also potentially cause production delays and product scrappage. However coding technology can help to alleviate this through advances such as remote control or monitoring of printers, or easy-to-use image-based operating software. This means packers have less to worry about, such as costly downtime in an industry that can little afford it.
Why do we need traceability codes?
Traceability requirements are partly designed to help consumers have greater confidence in where their food has come from and improve the accountability of manufacturers; as such legislation has set out a number of laws to deliver just this.
The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) of 2011 is the most robust regulatory act passed in the United States in nearly a century. The food and beverage industry anticipates the release of well-defined FSMA rules by the end of 2015 and the oncoming enforcement of those rules by the FDA by the end of 2016. The timeline outlined above is mandated by a court order. The industry can reliably expect legally mandated inspections of food facilities to begin in 2016.
This modern emphasis on traceability is not just helpful information for consumers, who can tell quickly the origin of their food, but also ensures that any product recalls are limited to the specific items affected – minimizing disruption to a meat processing business. Knowing which affected products were included in a particular lot over a period of time will help prevent manufacturers from having to recall everything – leading to a more accurate and controlled recall process when issues arise and significant cost savings.
Traceability can also help to support the integrity of different types of meat manufactured and processed, for example halal, kosher or organic meat; all of which should be processed under strict guidelines.
If you want to learn more about the best coding and marking solutions for the meat processing industry, download our white paper CHOOSING THE BEST MEAT PROCESSING CODING SOLUTION.
Not all inkjet printheads are created equal. Some printheads are designed to offer superior uptime performance, making them easier to operate and use when coding product. Look for the following features when choosing an inkjet coder, whether it is a small character inkjet coder for printing on primary product packaging or ahigh resolution large character inkjet coder for printing on cases:
Inkjet printheads featuring stainless steel construction and sealed designs withstand wear and tear better than those constructed with plastic. When examining the printhead materials, also look for whether or not wires are exposed during the cleaning process and whether or not printheads allow for adjustments. Exposed wires and printhead adjustments put the printhead at risk of damage, making them less durable and reliable. Opt for an inkjet coder that features a printhead that is durable enough to require no printhead adjustments for long-term ease of use.
Inkjet printheads that offer automatic cleaning capabilities allow for less human handling of the equipment, minimizing the opportunity to damage the equipment. Hands free cleaning capabilities also allow for printheads to run cleaner for longer, giving manufacturers as much run-time before interventions are required. The best cleaning systems allow printheads to code onto product without encountering printer faults or degrading code quality, with manufacturers able to run the inkjet coders for weeks and months before manual cleaning of the printheads are required.
Although inkjet coders are considered non-contact coders, it never fails that a product is sent down the packaging line skewed, causing it to come into direct contact with the printhead. When this happens, poorly designed and constructed printheads encounter major issues with internal components falling out of alignment and air pockets being introduced into the ink lines. Well-constructed printheads have potted components that are strong enough to withstand these types of impacts. Some inkjet coders also feature material handling mechanisms that gently guide the printhead away from the product to minimize the impact on the printhead.
Interested in upgrading your inkjet coding technology, but not sure where to start? Speak with a Diagraph product identification expert today by calling 1.800.722.1125 or contacting us through the website.
By Chris Pangallo, Product Manager -- Continuous Inkjet (CIJ) & Laser
Meat packers face challenges in maintaining compliance with coding regulations not found in other production environments. As in many industries, traceability and expiration dates are required for their products, but successfully executing this coding is a challenge because many meat packing plants run 24/7 in an extremely cold, damp and humid environment. This combination of environmental factors is hard on all marking and coding equipment. One solution for meat packing plants is Continuous Ink Jet (CIJ) printing. CIJ is a non-contact, indelible, high speed coding solution, perfect for applying variable data onto packaged meats. What is not so perfect for CIJ is the environment found in refrigerated meat plants.
But we have good news. There are options available with Linx CIJ printers that address the specific challenges found in the harsh meat plant production environment. The following options are recommended to keep your printers and your production running with maximum uptime.
Want a full review of which coding technologies make the cut in meat processing environments? Download our latest whitepaper for details.
The Linx model 5900 and 7900 printers have clamshell design cold-drawn stainless steel enclosures. The printers are available with IP55 or IP65 ratings, and are suitable for wash-down environments that are part of overall hygiene standards required in meat packaging.
Downtime in your production simply isn’t an option. But at any moment, an unpredictable event can arise like low ink levels, maintenance and clogging, putting your operations on hold anywhere from an hour to an entire shift. So how do you prepare for the unexpected? One option that we see put into practice by many customers is the investment in a spare inkjet printer – a reliable, on-hand system that can quickly be fired up on a production line when your regular systems suddenly quit.
So what exactly should you be looking for in a reliable back-up inkjet printer?
Extended shutdown features – There is no planning when you might need to pull in a spare printer, meaning it could be sitting idle for an undefined amount of time. Many small character printers take time to boot up and flush printheads that have not been in use for some time. These printers often require full system flushes or draining when being prepared for extended shutdown periods. When purchasing a small character printer to use a spare, choose one that doesn’t have extensive shut down procedures and is designed to fire right up and start printing after sitting idle for as long as 3 months at a time.
Long shelf-life – Thermal inkjet printers that utilize snap-in and -out replacement ink cartridges make great spare candidates. Ink cartridges can be kept in-stock and on-shelf so your printer is guaranteed to have a supply of ink when it is pulled into operation at a moment’s notice.
Additionally, for high-resolution inkjet printers that take fluids from bottles, industry-leading inks are formulated to last as long as 18 months on the shelf and still consistently deliver high contrast print messages. Similarly for your case coding, look for printheads that remain start-up ready for up to 12 months. To ensure peak performance of ink fluids and printheads, always store according to recommended temperature and humidity conditions.
Protected internal electronics – Look for systems that have a protective covering to maintain and preserve the internal electronics. Not only is thermal jet printer technology a low investment option that produces high resolution text, graphics and barcodes up to 1” high, but the easy-to-change cartridges are simple to store on-shelf in case of emergencies.
Ask yourself whether it is more costly to invest in spare printers for your food production line or to risk unplanned downtime. The investment to protect your productivity is more than likely to pay off if you’re making an informed decision about the inkjet systems you’re keeping as back-ups. Our product specialists can help you determine what the best spare system type is for your application needs. Call today or send us an email for our recommendation.