Published29th June, 2015
For smaller producers, making the switch from hand-stickering or hand-stamping to a more ‘retail- ready’ date or batch code print can be a tricky balancing act.
Companies supplying major retailers find, at some point, that they need to make the move to inkjet coding. Both to satisfy retail customer requirements and to project a stronger brand image. A tight hold on capital funds, coupled with caution over whether orders will stick, makes any equipment investment a difficult decision.
In the food, beverage and FMCG sectors, industrial inkjet coders (CIJ) offer high speed, high quality coding for fast moving production lines which handle tens of thousands of products each day.
Inkjet coding relies on product movement. As the product passes under the printhead, jetted ink droplets create the print pattern for the required date or batch code. In many factory environments, this movement is created by the product progressing along a conveyor.
Where throughputs are lower, either because of the nature of the product or because of the size of the company, this level of automation is not practical.
So, how can smaller companies make the move from hand coding to create the right impression for retailers’ shelves?
If you are putting products into sleeves or cartons, or need to print backing cards for blister packs, a standalone ‘stack-to-stack’ feeding system will give you a good half-way house. Operators load packs into a magazine from which they are fed along a the machine and underneath an integrated printer. The automated feeder lets you print up to 600 packs per minute but it is only suitable for flat-form packaging.
If you need to print bottles, tubes, pouches and other pre-packed products, a sliding table can give you the movement needed with precision positioning.
The product sits on the sliding bed, with the inkjet head mounted on a movable bracket. The head can be adjusted for different height products. As the table is moved, by hand, from right to left, a sensor triggers the inkjet.
Once printed, these bottles will look no different from bottles that are coded by an inkjet on a conveyor in a larger production environment. What’s more, the table is not limited to just one product line. A simple adjustment of print head height and production positioning lets you handle your full range of products.
Even better news , as throughput grows and you put more automation in place, your inkjet printer can be moved to your new production line, protecting your investment and giving you even greater returns.