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.
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.
Understanding the Expected Cost of Operations
Are you spending more than you should on maintaining
your marking and coding equipment?
By Bruce Castro, US Service Manager
Ever wonder what you spend on parts to keep your marking and coding equipment running? Even more importantly, do you know what you should be spending? We all know that maintenance isn’t free and everything with a moving part wears out sooner or later, but few really understand the expected cost of their application.
Many operate under the assumption that the costs they pay are the expected costs of operation.
If you want to know your spend on Diagraph or Norwood parts, just reach out to us and we’ll engage the local Service Engineer and Field Service Manager to find out. This service audit will identify your current spend and compare that to your expected spend on inkjet, label application, thermal transfer overprinter and hot stamp parts.
Through a service audit, allow us to review how you are performing and make recommendations for lowering your operating costs if your audit indicates that you are above the expected spend. We provide more than just equipment – we provide solutions to help you improve your marking and coding operational efficiencies.
After reviewing your comprehensive service audit, you may be wondering if it is the right time to move into a new system versus absorbing the cost of continuous maintenance on your current equipment. At your request, we will provide you with a downtime avoidance and maintenance savings analysis to help you determine if purchasing a new system is the right investment for your production line.
If you use Diagraph inks and solvents, or have more than one Diagraph technology in your facility, you may qualify for a free service audit. There are other ways to request this audit at no charge. Contact us 800.526.2531 to find out more information.
We are at your Service.
Do one of these two scenarios occur in your end of line production?
The Hidden Costs of End of Line Coding Whitepaper
If you’re a manufacturer integrating traversing CIJ and thermal transfer overprinters in your form, fill and seal machines, consumables contribute to your total cost of ownership in a major way. You may identify with some of the following common pain points related to coding onto flow packs, plastic sleeves and sachets, and it is crucial to your profitability to find a solution for overcoming these issues:
There are alternatives available to you to avoid these common pitfalls in multi-lane coding operations. Look for these two features in your system to minimize parts, fluids and ribbon costs in the long run:
1) A single consumable – To avoid the mess and additional training, specifically evaluate options using a single roll of ribbon for all of the print heads.
2) Ribbon saving mechanisms – Once you have evaluated a multi-lane coder with ribbon instead of ink, ask about ribbon saving mechanisms. Industry-leading applications ensure minimum gaps between prints and can result in up to a 50% reduction in ribbon waste.
Are you in the process of evaluating multi-lane printing and coding technologies to meet your unique form fill and seal machine requirements? Download our free Hidden Costs of Multi-Lane Printing guide.
The Hidden Costs of Multi-Lane Printing Whitepaper
A look at how power efficiency impacts total cost of ownership in automated labeling systems
By Steve Dods, Automated Labeling Products (ALP) and Thermal Transfer Overprinter (TTO) Products Manager
We didn’t give much thought to the price of gasoline until it reached over $2 dollars a gallon, now we watch the price per gallon daily. The same theory holds true in regards to the power it takes to run equipment on our plant floor, until now. Take heed, power efficiency can save more than just a few pennies! Not all Label Applicators are created equal and the savings when operating a power efficient unit adds up.
True cost of ownership includes the replacement items, maintenance, downtime, and consumables that the project will use to perform the intended job. It also includes the power to run the system, which is usually thought of as “pennies to operate”. The real cost of power adds up quickly, and even though air is free, compressed air is not.
The cost of power as it relates to the national average cost of electricity is around $0.10 per Kilowatt Hour (2008, US Government, Energy Information Administration). The typical cost for generating compressed air is approximately $0.25 per cubic foot/minute and only represents the energy it takes to run a compressor, not the other factors such as maintenance and alike. Using this information, the annual cost to run the equipment can be calculated and compared.
Generally, label applicators are wipe-on units. Looking at various manufacturers, there is a difference in power consumption that is largely based on the technology used. A brushless DC motor is far more efficient than a comparable stepper motor-based unit. There is over $500 of savings to be had annually when comparing the annual cost of running a motor with a power requirement of 1.5A@115VAC versus 5A@115VAC or above.
Most printer applicator systems are “tamp” or “air-tamp” and require compressed air. The label dispenses from the printer off the label carrier and is positioned onto a vacuumed surface that holds the label in place until it is applied to the substrate. Making efficient use of the vacuum bore size of the cylinder, and using a higher quality of pneumatic components, some manufacturers are able to use less CFM than most others. An average cost savings of over $600 was confirmed when comparing printer applicators using 2.5 CFM verses 5 CFM.
Looking at the cost of ownership in terms of power reveals that pennies do add up, and the manufacturer using a brushless DC motor offers its customers continued savings throughout the life of the unit. For more information on power efficiency and Automated Labeling Products visit www.diagraph.com or call 1-800-722-1125.
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.