Imprinting bar codes and other information on all four sides of a case increases read rates but requires the right equipment.
By Sara Pearson Specter
August 04, 2017
As more retailers, consumer packaged goods handlers and distributors turn to automation in their facilities to handle a proliferation of mixed-case shipments to retail stores, manufacturers are increasingly being asked to ensure that bar codes, product, lot and date codes appear on all four sides of each case.
“Having the information imprinted on all four sides of a corrugated secondary case or a retail-ready box increases the efficiency of the handling, as the cases don’t have to be oriented in a specific way for the data to be read,” explains Michael Sawyer, divisional director of product management and marketing at Diagraph Marking and Coding.
“Whether there’s a single bar code reader located on one side of the conveyor or a multi-sided scan tunnel, imprinting on all four sides increases the read rate,” Sawyer says, noting that traditionally the coding has been marked on either two adjacent or two opposite sides.
To accommodate that request, Diagraph offers the IJ4000 large character inkjet printing system. It supports up to four print heads supplied with ink from a single delivery source and imprints GS1-compliant codes and other information.
“A typical in-line print configuration marks the information on the opposite sides of the case in-line simultaneously, and integrates one of two different case-turning methods for imprinting the same information on both sets of sides,” Sawyer continues.
Depending on a facility’s conveyor setup and available floorspace, Diagraph can configure a choice of turnkey case turners: either a bump-turn mechanism that spins the case 90 degrees for the second imprint then returns it to its original orientation, or a perpendicular conveyor belt that pulls the case to the side for a second set of printheads to imprint on the opposite sides.
Regardless of the application methodology, the printheads used to mark directly on all four sides of each case exceed imprint rates of 250 feet per minute, which is generally faster than most production lines move, he says.
“There are also cost and waste elimination advantages to using large character inkjet printing to mark all four sides of a case over print-and-apply label systems, such as less frequent machine interaction to refill labels and remove the spent label stock,” adds Sawyer.
About the author
Sara Pearson Specter has written articles and supplements for Modern Materials Handling and Material Handling Product News as an Editor at Large since 2001. Specter has worked in the fields of graphic design, advertising, marketing, and public relations for nearly 20 years, with a special emphasis on helping business-to-business industrial and manufacturing companies. She owns her own marketing communications firm, Sara Specter, Marketing Mercenary LLC
. Clients include companies in a diverse range of fields, including materials handing equipment, systems and packaging, professional and financial services, regional economic development and higher education. Specter graduated from Centre College in Danville, Ky. with a bachelor’s degree in French and history. She lives in Oregon’s Willamette Valley where she and her husband are in the process of establishing a vineyard and winery