Challenges & solutions in industrial product identification

Challenges & solutions in industrial product identification

Finding a product identification system 100% adapted to your needs can be difficult. See a summary of 4 major challenges and their solutions: environmental conditions, type of product and production, regulations and the competition.

1. Environmental conditions for industrial printers

The first challenge we think of when it comes time to install new industrial printers is the environment in which they will be installed. Is the environment hot and humid or rather dry and cold? Do you need to wash equipment down thoroughly or more it around? Here are a few challenging environmental conditions in plants.

Dust and debris

A dusty environment requires protective strategies for industrial printers. For example, we need to pressurize continuous ink-jet printers and integrate them into cabinets with no air vents to avoid dust getting into the cabinets.

There are also custom dust-free boxes for thermal printers.

High and low temperatures

Printers work well in temperatures around 10-12 degrees Celsius, which is often much higher or lower than average plant temperatures.

In a refrigerated plant where temperatures are too low (4-5 degrees Celsius), the ink-jet printers need heated cabinets or cables to respect their settings for proper functioning.

On the other hand, cooling systems can also be installed in areas where high temperatures are common (above 30 degrees Celsius). Protection is important: industrial printers operating in an extremely warm location use more supplies to maintain stability in their settings.

Ink odor

Another challenge in industrial printing is worker comfort, namely when it comes to ink odor. As a general rule, all inks have a strong odor, but, if necessary, we can choose a line of ink that emits less volatile organic compounds (VOC) and no metallic components.

Your employees are thus less susceptible of being affected by ink odor and will thus work more efficiently.

Water and humidity

Some plants need to be thoroughly washed down on a regular basis which requires mobile industrial printers (that can be moved during cleaning) and the addition of stainless steel cabinets (to protect them).

In either case, the installation can be completed in the same day, including print tests.

Food transformation plant with high humidity levels

We can always supply printer heads that are big or small enough to meet all your needs.

2. Type of production and product to identify

The specific products to be marked and your plant processes also influence product identification. Here are a few criteria to consider.

Production line speed

A major challenge in your choice of industrial printers is your production line speed: is it fast or slow? Our faster printer is the Citronix that prints 2,090 feet per minute (or 636 meters per minute) and our fastest label-applying printer, the Foxjet LS6000, reaching speeds of 300 feet per minute.

We will find the product identification method that is perfect for your plant's production speed.

Size of products to identify

Sometimes, products are very large (cement columns, steel beams) and sometimes very small (pills, plastic vials).

For larger products, manual identification is still the simplest and most efficient. You can review a few detailed options in our recent article about industrial marking options.

To print in very small characters, we have "micro" industrial printers. With such printers, we can print barcodes as small as 3/4''.

Procedures are different from one plant to the next and as a consequence, identification products need to be adapted.

Product cleaning techniques

In some sectors, such as the medical sector, product must be cleaned with alcohol. For such cases, special printing ink has been specially designed to resist contact with alcohol.

Unique plant procedures

Procedures change from one plant to the next and product identification must be adapted.

Let's take product rotation, for example. This may or may not be required in the plant, and even for the same products. If rotation is required, blue ink on a black cover may not give enough contrast to ensure speed of operations. If rotation is not required, blue ink may work just fine.

We have 2 identical products wrapped in 2 different plants that require different coloured inks. This adaptation is possible, no matter the different internal procedures.

Industrial printer automation

Autonomous production requires a perfectly integrated product identification system. Ultimately, it is possible for your printing system to detect your product, even if it changes, and printing will also adapt without any need for you to intervene. The challenge is thus technical, technological and financial.

We work with you to reach the automation levels you want.

label applying printer integrated into a high-speed production line

3. Product identification regulations

You probably know the identification data required for your products such as their life cycle, packaging date and follow-up code, but it doesn't end there. Here are a few challenges when it comes to production identification standards.

Adapting to the industry and the product

Regulations change from one industry to the next and can be more or less restrictive – in the food industry, for example, the expiration date is required.

In addition, the choice of identification type is important and must adapt to the food. For example, for unpackaged foods like fruits and vegetables, labels are required and direct printing should be avoided.

In the highly regulated pharmaceutical sector, product identification and packaging must be in conformity and operations must remain confidential. Our printing tests are done on samples in an entirely controlled environment.

We are here to make you more efficient in the face of your competition by using good strategies and the right equipment.

Respecting traceability standards

The challenge of traceability or production follow-up is integrating plants and businesses across various sectors. Products and foods must be marked in such a way that they can be easily found in the case of a problem or a recall, whether with serial numbers or dates. Ink must sometimes remain intact for long periods of time, in spite of debris and other difficult conditions.

For example, a mining company may need to mark their valves that are inside subterranean extraction cylinders in order to retrace their manufacture date and honour warranties in the case of cracks or breakage. The printing must therefore withstand friction with the ground and construction equipment.

We ask the right questions to ensure that our industrial printers respect all your traceability standards.

Apples labeled according to food industry standards

4. Competition & performance

The competition is more and more ferocious, which leads to performance pressure and lower production costs.

To tackle this challenge face-on, we have high-performance industrial printers offering affordable cost-in-use. We also have the flexibility necessary for you to personalize the products you offer clients whether by applying their logo or some other visual element. Product personalization can become part of your client offering and help you stand out from your competitors.

For occasional colour label needs, we can even print them for you, which avoid having to purchase more equipment. We are here to make you more efficient in the face of your competition by using good strategies and the right equipment.

Participate in the decision-making

When you call on us for your production identification systems, we will evaluate the unique challenges in your plant, but also the elements that interest you:

  • Where do you want to save?
  • Are your employees reticent about changing an ink cartridge every day?
  • How often are you ready to clean your equipment?
  • Is the life-cycle warranty important to you?

We will then offer you various equipment options and explain all the pros and cons. And you will make the final decision. 

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