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Linx’s own Voice of Customer research in 2014 illustrates the challenges faced by coding and marking machinery to deliver clean and accurate codes in dairy production.
Naturally hygiene is crucial, with machines often needing to operate in a chilled or damp atmosphere too. Although codes are not generally complex, tending to be durability dates and batch codes, production lines work fast, often at constant speeds of 180ppm or more.
Added to that are unpredictability issues such as operator error, for instance selecting the wrong code, perhaps due to the large variety of products, high line speeds and quick changes.
Code quality needs to be consistent whatever the substrate, which can cause problems when switching quickly between products, while the growth of smaller lunchbox packs in turn reduces the area of the pack available for the code. Quick and frequent line changeovers, or product changes on the same line, mean downtime can be very expensive. Even cleaning printheads is time that can ill afford to be lost.
In a fast moving production environment, manufacturers need to know that their coding equipment can be trusted to perform its basic task without interruption.
This is an area where making the right choice of coding and marking equipment can help, for example by choosing machines that have easy-to-use picture-based interfaces, which can reduce the likelihood of error, and speed up changeover times.
Additionally, major customers such as supermarkets may require to oversee early production personally to satisfy themselves that their quality requirements can be met straight away – another reason why coding machines must be able to deliver straight from start-up, with the first print as good as the last.
Future-proof coders, which allow add-ons to be integrated at any time, mean dairy users can react quickly to changing trends, customer demands or legislation without having to trial, test and gain expenditure approval for more machines.