Published12th January, 2016
Offline coding systems are used by companies across a whole host of industries for printing variable data on packaging. This can be expiry date codes on food cartons. Bar codes on pouches. Product information on blister cards. For plant and seed companies, it is normally display-until dates on care tags or product information on seed packets.
In all of these applications, an offline coding system can solve a time-consuming and expensive problem – printing a good quality, retail-ready code without holding up the packing process.
Where production is seasonal, an offline system can give you a lower-cost alternative to running extra shifts and bringing in more people to get products out of the door. If you are relying on hand-labelling, an offline coding system gives you a half-way house between a completely manual approach and the investment and commitment required for full automation.
Using an Offline System for Printing Date Codes on Plant Tags
An offline coding system generally consists of a ‘feeder’ and a ‘printer’. The feeder works instead of a conveyor to move packs or products from the ‘ready-to-print’ stack, past an integrated printer and into another stack of printed packs or products.
Packs or tags are taken from the in-feed stack and gripped by a narrow belt that moves them underneath the printer and into the out-feed stack. Feeding speeds are typically between 150 and 300 per minute, depending on size and shape. The printer you choose will depend on the substrate (porous or non-porous) the print style you want and the message you need to print. For expiry date codes we would normally suggest an inkjet printer. For bar codes or more detailed product information you might look at thermal inkjet or thermal transfer. You can also use a label applicator for applying pre-printed labels.
Printing Date Codes and Product Information on Seed Packets
Seed packets are fed and coded in exactly the same way as described above. It is very easy to adjust the feeder for different shapes and sizes. If, as well as printing an expiry date, you want to print more detailed product information you can also do this using the feeder. With an inkjet printer, you can print up to 5 lines of basic text and numbers. If you want to print more ‘marketing-friendly’ text, bar codes or 2D data matrix codes, you can do this with a thermal inkjet without losing any speed. Thermal transfer is also an option but relies on contact with the product so can be slower.
If you would like to find out more about how we can help you speed up your coding, contact us today.