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GAF revamps bundle marking

Producing roofing shingles in 30 different colors and marking the film-wrapped bundles clearly for retailers like Home Depot is no easy task for Wayne, NJ-based GAF Materials Corp.
FILED IN:  Package Component  > Films

An ink-jet system from Matthews Intl. installed in Fall ’02 at GAF’s Fontana CA plant has simplified that complex undertaking. According to GAF the Matthews Jet-A-Mark® R4 Controller has improved marking legibility eliminated human errors in coding increased processing speed lowered labor time and provided easier maintenance compared to the previous set up.

The upgrade followed a switch in bundling materials from kraft to plastic film. “With the old paper system we often couldn’t clearly read those markings. Today that’s all solved even while marking on plastic a more difficult-to-print surface” says a GAF line supervisor. GAF prefers that its personnel remain anonymous.

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Downstream of the unidentified bundler the R4 ink-jet system marks on two sides of the bundles. The R4 Controller operates four print heads—each comprising 16 valves—divided into two groups. A group comprises two print heads that each mark onto the front and back respectively of the bundle’s narrow ends (see photo). The characters are printed in black letters 1” high. Printed details include product color a plant code and manufacturing site. Additionally one side is printed with the production date. Depending on palletizing requirements the 70-to-100 lb bundles are directed past one or the other of the two groups of print heads.

Matthews’ EasySelect software allows GAF personnel to input product bar codes preprinted on sheets directly into the printing system using a portable scanner. This allows plant pesonnel to quickly set the print heads for the next color run.

According to GAF the old arrangement with kraft paper-wrapped bundles meant that if there was a miscoded bundle the error may not be spotted until after 30 minutes of production.

“With this new set up the color change can be made before three bundles pass by” says the supervisor “and we’ve eliminated the old problem of misidentifying the bundles.” —RL

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