Whether hand-held or in-line, a coding machine helps companies quickly and easily batch code their products. This ensures similar products made by different companies are identifiable from one another, and it’s critical for traceability.
And it’s not just packing and shipping companies that need these handy tools. Any pharmaceutical, food-and-beverage, or manufacturing company that packs its goods needs to meet local and international coding regulations.
There are an enormous variety of coding machines on the market today. You’ve done the hard yards–researched the considerable array of coding machines on the market today to decide which is right for your business–and your order has finally arrived.
How do you make the most out of your investment? Read on to find out.
1. How Flexible Is the Machine?
The latest batch coding machines will deliver all kinds of typefaces, font sizes, and label styles. Make the most of your machine’s versatility. For example, you could create different styles of codes for different product lines or even items within the same product line.
Hopefully, you also purchased a machine that adapts to a variety of packaging configurations. If not, it might be time for an upgrade.
2. What Type of Machine Do You Have?
Inkjet, laser, or thermal printing? Knowing the type of machine you have is imperative to understanding what kind of labels you need to use and how they’ll hold up to the demands of stocking, packing, and shipping.
Inkjet coding machines are great for printing onto product packaging and cartons, large or small. If you need to print bar codes make sure that the coding machine you choose has that ability.
Laser printing works by first burning off a pre-printed area of a label to create the barcode. These machines are more expensive to buy, but they typically run longer and are easy to maintain.
Direct thermal printing is simple, but the printed barcodes will deteriorate if exposed to sun, heat, or handled roughly during shipping and stocking. Special heat sensitive material will be needed to use this type of machine.
3. Does Your Machine Meet Current Regulations?
Older machines might not meet the current coding, labeling, and traceability standards required by government and industry regulatory bodies.
For example, in the food and beverage sector, barcoding requirements for food packaging are regulated by the FDA’s Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). The body regularly updates its seven major rules.
4. What Are the Machine’s Specific Requirements?
Coding machines aren't a one size fits all product. To get the most out of your barcode printer, you need to know its specific requirements.
· How many prints can it handle in one session? This can vary depending on the font size and how bold it is.
· How long will a cartridge last? This depends again on the font size and how bold your print is. The environment it is used and stored will play a part in how long your cartridge lasts.
· How long can it run for?
· What types of labels does it require?
· What types of packaging can it be used on?
· What text sizes, fonts, and other graphic capabilities does it have?
Of course, you should have already considered whether the printer meets your needs; otherwise, you wouldn’t have bought it.
If the machine you have isn’t working for you anymore (or ever), either dive back into that product manual or give your supplier a call to discuss more suitable options.
5. What Integrations Are Available?
Are you using your coding machine as efficiently and effectively as possible? Many devices made today can be integrated into broader packing systems–making it easier to automate your packaging line and reduce errors. If you’re not sure what your machine is capable of, check with your product provider.
6. How Does Your Machine Handle Information?
Just as you need to know what kind of coding machine you have and what it does, it’s essential to understand how it processes the information you give it.
There are three main ways coding machines work with data:
· Manual data control
· Semi-automated control
· Fully-automated data control
If you’re a small company, you could get away with manually entering data into your batch coding machine. However, note that this type of system is the most susceptible to coding errors. At the other end of the spectrum is fully automated data control–best suited to companies with large packing and shipping volumes.
7. Are You Investing in Training?
Have you brought new hand-held coders or an integrated coding platform into your packing and shipping business recently? If yes, it’s essential to invest in staff training (or re-training) to ensure your lines run as efficiently–and therefore cost-effectively–as possible.
8. Does Your Batch Coder Suit Your Industry?
Batch coding machines are typically used to manage traceability and product differentiation in three core industries globally.
These industries include:
· Industrial manufacturing
· Food and beverage
The types of packing and shipping supplies you need for batch coding (like ink and pre-printed labels) also vary across types of machines and industries. For example, what kinds of prints do you need? And on what kinds of materials–cardboard, foil, plastic–will they be printed or fixed onto?
9. What Packaging Do You Use?
When it comes to pack and ship supplies, few things are more important than carefully planned packaging.
Make sure there’s dedicated space on your packaging for the identifying labels. This needs to be coordinated with your packaging line OEM partner. (If you produce packaging in-house, it should be included in your SOPs.)
After all, you don’t want packers scratching their heads and losing valuable time working out where to put the barcode.
Making the Most of Your Coding Machine
Getting the most out of a coding machine is a matter of knowing your device inside and out. Aside from diving deep into the product manual, you need to test the machine on various product packages, train your staff to use the device efficiently, and stay abreast of industry standards and regulations on product traceability and identification.
Are you ready to add a coding machine to your packing and shipping business or considering an upgrade? Shop coding machines on the Pack Secure website today. We have a large selection of top-rated hand-held and in-line coders suitable for a wide range of industries.
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