If you’re in the market for a batch coding machine but find yourself overwhelmed by the multitude of technologies available, we’re here to assist! Continue reading to uncover the most efficient and cost-effective solution for your company.
Selecting the right batch coding machine is crucial for ensuring that products can smoothly traverse through a supply chain. However, with numerous batch coding options at your disposal, determining the most suitable machine can be challenging.
Various industries demand batch coding machines that can effectively apply codes and data to a diverse range of products and packaging. Additionally, factors such as production line speeds and the factory environment play a role in determining the ideal machine for a specific application.
In this blog, we’ll guide you through the intricacies of the various technologies available and how they are applicable to different industries and products. This information will empower you to make an informed decision when selecting your batch coding machine.
The Significance of Batch Coding
Whether you’re involved in industrial and manufacturing processes, food and beverage production, or the pharmaceutical and automotive sectors, batch coding is a crucial aspect of your manufacturing operations.
Batch codes play a vital role in traceability, allowing a product to be tracked through every stage of production, processing, and distribution. These codes typically consist of various identifiers, such as those related to the product, production line, production date, and time.
If a consumer purchases two identical items from a supermarket, even though the products have the exact same ingredients in the same quantities, they may bear different batch codes if they were produced on different days, on distinct production lines, or with ingredients obtained from different suppliers.
These batch codes play a crucial role in product recalls. In the event of an issue with a product being identified by a customer, retailer, or any entity in the supply chain, the batch code enables the product to be traced back to its origin. Products sharing the same batch code can then be removed from sale, incurring reduced costs for the manufacturer. The larger the batch size, the more expensive it becomes to execute a product recall.
Manual Batch Coding Solutions
Manual batch coding machines are hand-operated and typically suitable for very small production runs. Examples of such machines include traditional hot stamps, ink pads, or sticker roller coding machines.
These machines are commonly employed by small manufacturers dealing with a limited range of products, often produced manually and for limited distribution.
Semi-Automatic Batch Coding Equipment
Semi-automatic batch coding machines automatically apply data to products as they move along a production line, eliminating the need for manual operator involvement. Once an automatic batch code is configured with the necessary code, the process of product feeding and printing is executed automatically until a change in product or code is needed.
Contact or Non-Contact Printing?
All batch coding machines, whether manual, semi-automatic, or automatic, are additionally categorized into two primary types: contact and non-contact. The choice between a contact or non-contact batch coder is determined by your industry and the nature of the product under production.
Contact batch coding machines directly touch the surface of the product or packaging for coding. Examples of contact batch coding solutions include traditional rubber or metal stamps and automatic thermal transfer overprinting (TTO) machines.
Batch Coding Machines Without Direct Contact
Non-contact batch coding machines avoid physical contact with the product surface and employ methods like lasers and ink sprays for code application. These machines are suitable for frequently changing batch codes. Examples of non-contact batch coding solutions encompass continuous inkjet (CIJ) and thermal inkjet (TIJ) printers, along with laser coders.
Continuous Inkjet Printing
Domino Printing’s Ax-Series of continuous inkjet printers have been made with industrial and manufacturing sector coding requirements in mind. Ax-Series printers are designed to withstand the harsh conditions, while still being able to print on a variety of surfaces, from thin plastic film to thick ridged metal.
Thermal Inkjet Printing
Domino Printing’s Gx-Series Thermal Inkjet printers, as part of the non-contact ink coding machines, excel in achieving high-resolution printing at rapid speeds. They are well-suited for the large-scale coding of pharmaceuticals and medical devices that require intricate and advanced codes and messages.
For certain applications, a batch coder that doesn’t rely on ink may offer the most suitable solution. In the beverage industry, for instance, printing batch codes on the bottom of beer cans, wine bottles, and water bottles demands a system capable of printing on foil seals, PET, and glass, like a scribing laser.
An excellent solution is available in Domino Printing’s durable D-Series CO2 lasers and F-Series Fibre lasers—high-speed, robust laser marking machines capable of coding on a diverse array of items and materials. This encompasses glass, plastic, foil, and metal.
Approaches to Managing Batch Code Information
Another crucial factor to ponder when selecting a batch coding machine is how you wish to manage your data. There are diverse options, ranging from manual data entry to complete coding automation.
Manual Data Management
At the beginner level, information can be inputted directly into a batch coding machine for imprinting on a product or its packaging. In this situation, a worker would be tasked with inputting all the data onto a label design or code template. Subsequently, the machine would proceed to print the code onto the product. This kind of system is vulnerable to coding errors in the event of a mistake by the operator during data entry, potentially leading to product recalls.
Manufacturers have another choice available, which is semi-automated data management. In this case, a batch coder can automatically fill in a label or code template using specific information. In such a setup, an operator would need to input data from specified categories, such as date, product code, line number, etc., into a software program. This software would then transform the data into the final code for printing.
Fully-Automated Data Management
A more advanced solution for manufacturers is presented through batch coding software, capable of integrating into an existing supply system to generate batch numbers based on product data and automatically populate the label software. Domino’s QuickDesign coding automation and label design software facilitate the integration of all Domino printers into MES and ERP systems, ensuring accurate data collection and curation while enabling automatic message switching.
The implementation of a coding automation system eliminates the necessity for human intervention, leading to reduced errors, minimized downtime, and enhanced operator capacity to perform tasks elsewhere on the factory floor.
Various industries have distinct requirements for batch coding machines. The following sections outline typical batch coding systems in some key industries. If your industry is not mentioned, please reach out for further information. Additionally, you can explore more insights into the coding and marking technologies specific to various sectors on our blog.
Industrial and Manufacturing Sector
In the industrial and manufacturing sector, batch code printers might be applied to a diverse range of products featuring manufacturer-specific tracking and batch codes. This encompasses, but is not restricted to, applications in cable and wire, automotive and aerospace parts, and electronic components.
The characteristics of this sector may necessitate the imprinting of codes on curved or irregular surfaces, a task achievable through the use of non-contact industrial printer technology. Non-contact batch coding machines also offer a viable alternative to intricate manual printing processes, leading to a more efficient overall production.
Domino Printing’s Ax-Series of continuous inkjet printers has been developed with the coding needs of the industrial and manufacturing sector in consideration. These printers are engineered to endure the challenging conditions frequently encountered in industrial production settings while retaining the capability to print on a range of surfaces, spanning from thin plastic film to thick rigid metal.
Food and Beverage
Batch codes play a crucial role for those engaged in the production and distribution of food and beverage items, as well as the retailers and end consumers they serve. In the food and beverage sector, the specific type of machine required can differ based on the material being coded. This encompasses a range of materials used in packaging food and drink items, and occasionally, as seen with individual batch codes imprinted on eggs, the food product itself.
Domino’s Ax-Series continuous inkjet printers offer an optimal printing solution for batch coding various food and beverage products and their packaging, including glass jars, plastic bottles, and cardboard boxes. Meanwhile, Domino’s V-Series thermal transfer overprinters are well-suited for printing on flexible film packaging, laminated cardboard, and stand-up pouches.
In certain food and beverage scenarios, a non-ink-based batch coder may prove to be the most suitable choice. For instance, in the beverage industry, printing batch codes on the base of beer cans, wine bottles, and water bottles necessitates a system capable of printing on foil seals, PET, and glass. Domino Printing provides a fitting solution with its robust range of D-Series CO2 lasers and F-Series fibre lasers—high-speed, durable laser marking machines designed for challenging environments, capable of imprinting codes on a diverse array of items and materials, including glass, plastic, foil, and metal.
Batch code printers play a vital role in the pharmaceutical sector, where legal requirements often mandate the inclusion of manufacturing dates, best before dates, anti-counterfeit Data Matrix codes, and regional legislative serialization codes.
The incorporation of codes on pharmaceutical products is essential to ensure proper monitoring of drugs and medical devices, preventing misuse by patients, individuals in the medical field, and, increasingly, criminal organizations.
Domino Printing’s Gx-Series thermal inkjet printers are non-contact ink coding machines capable of achieving high-resolution printing at very rapid speeds, reaching up to 300 meters per minute. These printers are well-suited for the large-scale coding of pharmaceuticals and medical devices, accommodating increasingly sophisticated codes and messages.
Regarding the cost:
The expense of a batch coding system can vary significantly based on factors such as the factory setup, the required technology type, the number of machines, and the quantity of products requiring coding. Ultimately, a balance must be struck between the number of codes needed, the initial setup cost, and the ongoing machine operating expenses.
For smaller businesses requiring high-quality coding, a thermal inkjet printer, such as Domino’s G-Series TIJ printers, often presents a cost-effective solution. These printers operate similarly to home printers, featuring a print head and cartridge that is replaced each time the ink is refilled, leading to reduced maintenance costs.
For larger manufacturers with high-speed production lines operating in challenging environments, a continuous inkjet printer might be the most suitable option. Domino’s Ax-Series of CIJ printers provides a robust solution with a durable print head and replaceable ink and make-up reservoirs, effectively lowering consumable costs.
For very large manufacturers, a laser coding solution can be an appealing batch coding option. Once installed, a solution from Domino’s D-Series and F-Series range of laser coders requires minimal maintenance, producing high-quality codes without the need for inks, solvents, or other consumables.