All food and beverage manufacturers have a commitment to efficient operations and strive to increase output with maximum uptime. Many of these manufacturers require variable information such as lot or batch codes, expiration dates, or barcodes on their product and make use of Continuous Inkjet (CIJ) to achieve these required codes. For high speed, non-contact coding in your food packaging or bottling environment, CIJ printers with known durability features will offer the following benefits:
Routine wear and tear on your CIJ machines is a reality when they are running in high-speed, industrial environments such as a food packaging or bottling lines. Invest in CIJ printers designed for maximum uptime with minimal effort and that have specific features that prove durable in industrial production environments.
See the Linx 8900 printer in action! Call 800.722.1125 or contact us for a free demonstration.
Ease of serviceability was a common pain point expressed by customers at this year’s PMMI Annual Conference “The Customer Speaks — OpX Leadership Network Panel”. Manufacturers are experiencing frequent turnover, making it difficult to keep a staff knowledgeable, up-to-date and skilled on their equipment. Additionally, training staff can be a costly investment, especially when you’re in a constant rotation of training a new force due to your skilled labor – your time and money investment – walking out the door.
Normal wear and tear is inevitable on continuous inkjet technology, leaving manufacturers with the option of relying on field servicing from the technology provider when staff lacks the knowledge and training required to maintain their CIJ systems.
There are some features you can look for in a CIJ solution to circumvent mounting preventative maintenance costs related to an unskilled workforce:
This is only one pain point associated with continuous inkjet printers that add to your total cost of ownership. For Diagraph's full round up of hidden costs of owning a CIJ system and how to evaluate features for a lower cost of ownership, read our whitepaper.
The Hidden Costs of Continuous Inkjet Coders Whitepaper
2020 will go down in history as a challenging time for food producers. While it is vital that food supplies to supermarkets are uninterrupted and rigorous hygiene is maintained, we should not forget the importance of the printed information that is provided to the consumer when it is on the shelf. There are heavy fines for batch and date codes that do not meet required legislation, and the printed codes must meet stringent traceability requirements should any recall be needed.
What to research
How do you go about ensuring you have the best possible coding equipment for the job in hand? As with any purchase, it always pays to do research and you may want to consider the following:
Why Linx is a good choice for the food industry
Linx’s continuous inkjet (CIJ) printers, with a minimum IP55 rating to withstand washdown, are an excellent choice for the food industry. They deliver quality coding with exceptional reliability, ease of use and efficient operations. Simple user interfaces with built-in mistake proofing help keep uptime to a maximum. Touch screens are solvent and alcohol resistant so they can be operated while wearing plastic or rubber gloves, and operators can use hand sanitizers to stay healthy and still operate the printer.
Linx CIJs are the optimum coders for the harsh environment of food production, and reduce stoppages through:
Linx’s extensive experience in the food industry translates into coders that are perfectly suited to challenging environments.
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
What: U.S. regulatory agencies recently announced a new preference to standardize on the use of the quality-based date label of "Best If Used By" on packaged foods. This recommendation is voluntary and based on research-based industry best practices.
Why: Confusion caused by the use of various date label formats leads to unnecessary food waste. Consumers equate date label information with a warning about the timeline for the safe consumption of the food product rather than a statement of a recommended timeline for optimal food quality. This format recommendation is a part of the "Winning on Reducing Food Waste FY 2019-2020 Federal Interagency Strategy" launched by the federal government in April 2019.
Who: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are endorsing the "Best If Used By" industry standard set forth by the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) and Food Marketing Institute (FMI) in 2017.
Industries of Interest: Food, Beverage
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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
The Container You Choose for Your Brew Determines Which Coding Technology You Should Choose
An excerpt from 2016 Comprehensive Guide to Date and Batch Coding in the Craft Brewing Industry
Different types of technology are needed for printing on your primary (bottle or can) package and on your secondary (outer box) package. Continuous ink jet (CIJ) and laser are the most common options for printing date codes, batch codes, other text, graphics, barcodes, QR codes and other codes onto primary beverage packages.
When selecting a coding system for your primary packaging, the first step is to consider what type of material you will be printing on. Keeping in mind that you can reasonably expect the printer to last five to seven years, what types of packages are you using now and do you plan to use in the years ahead? Bottles can be coded with either laser or CIJ systems. Cans are coded with CIJ technology. This means that a craft brewer who wants to be able to code on both cans and bottles will need a CIJ system.
The next consideration that should factor into your coding technology decision is production volume. Download our free guide to view cost comparisons based on the number of bottles and/or cans you fill per day.
2016 Comprehensive Guide to Date and Batch Coding in the Craft Brewing Industry
As a leading provider of marking and coding technology, Diagraph works with breweries of all sizes across the country to fulfill product traceability needs that can easily scale up for future capacity and complexity. Diagraph manufactures batch coding and date coding technologies that span the entire packaging line -- from primary product to secondary packaging all the way to pallet labeling.