We get it: as a drinks producer, coding and marking is not always at the forefront of your mind. It is much more likely that you spend your days thinking about subtle flavourings and attractive packaging, meeting production deadlines and creating ingenious marketing campaigns – and that’s understandable. It is easy to take something like coding and marking for granted, perhaps by underspending in that area or not replacing an old machine. And why not?
After all, what’s the worst that could happen…?
1. A supermarket customer in the drinks aisle notices your product and stops. Liking what they see, they take it off the shelf and hold it in their hands. It looks and feels great – and they are about to put it in their trolley when they turn it over and notice something that makes them pause.
The code on the bottom is poorly printed. Making their decision, the shopper puts the bottle back on the shelf and takes down your competitor’s product instead.
They are among the 84 percent of people who, according to recent Linx research, “would be concerned if the code printed on a bottle was of poor quality”.
So what can you do? Choose a coding solution that matches the quality of your brand – say goodbye to stamping, roller coders and label guns and consider non-contact coding such as ink jet or laser coding.
2. Like many alcoholic drinks producers, you store your bottles outside in the summer before bringing them inside to be filled in winter. This, however, causes condensation to appear – and the ink your printer uses is unsuitable for penetrating wet surfaces, meaning the code doesn’t adhere fully and is easily rubbed off.
This leads either to rework at the plant or rejects from retailers. There is the possibility of fines and damage to your reputation.
So what can you do? Ensure that your ink jet coder has the right ink for your specific application. Many ink types are available which penetrate condensation on bottles to adhere to the glass or plastic beneath, and also resist removal afterwards with the consumer. Run a trial with the printer at your site so you are sure that both can cope with your production conditions.
3. Your coder runs out of ink during the night shift. The skeleton team in the factory are unsure how to refill the machine, so production grinds to a halt until morning.
So what can you do? This could have been avoided if your coder was connected to the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). With internet connectivity, designated operators would have received low-fluid alerts to their smartphones, so the ink could be replenished long before it ran out.
4. Business is going well – so well that you need to up your production rate immediately. There’s just one problem: your coder is unable to keep the pace. After becoming a frustrating bottle neck for some time, it finally breaks down from the strain.
You lose your new contracts while waiting to get it replaced.
So what can you do? Look for a coding solution that can match your production speeds – now and in the future. Laser coders can match the fastest line speeds, but don’t discount ink jet either. Again, running a trial on your line will test whether the printer can cope with higher line speeds. And if your current printer breaks down, consider leasing one to get your line up and running quickly. Leasing saves on delays caused by capexes and gives you a chance to test the unit before you make your final decision.
5. Sometimes life takes us by surprise: look at the way the craft beer market, for example, recently underwent a wholesale change from bottles to cans.
This kind of sea-change is no problem if you have an adaptable printer that can handle the new packaging format. But if you haven’t, you may find your existing coder can’t cope with higher speeds, your ink won’t adhere to the new packaging materials, or it doesn’t have the correct IP rating for CiP processes.
So what can you do? Involve a leading supplier of coding equipment early on in the process – don’t consider it at the last-minute once the line is installed. They can advise on the best solution for your application and can offer invaluable advice based on their experience.
6. The worst happens and a number of your products require a recall.
While you have a code on each bottle, the low-quality print means you have to recall more than you needed, adding to the cost of your action.
So what can you do? Test, test, and test again your choice of coder before making a decision. Will it print clearly on all your packaging materials (labels, plastic, glass)? Run the line at the maximum speed, and then at variable speeds, and check that the quality of code is consistent.
7. Your bottles are being copied and filled with a liquid that bears no resemblance to your quality brand. The people who are doing this are counterfeiters – and they could be doing it down the road or thousands of miles away.
So what can you do? Ensure that your batch code is unique and difficult to copy – laser coding can apply complex logos and 2d codes across caps, labels and glass.
While all of these scenarios are the stuff of nightmares for any drinks producer, the good news is that all of them can be avoided by investing in quality coding and marking solutions that suit your business.
With cutting-edge, modern coders you will be able to deal with condensation on bottles, present an all-round quality image, avoid running out of ink mid-run, produce at faster rates, adapt seamlessly to new trends, trace your products, and win the battle against the counterfeiters. Now doesn’t that make you feel better!
So, take coding and marking for granted if you must. But don’t say we didn’t warn you.
Find the ideal coding solution for your business by reading our latest white paper