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Article | August 31, 1999
Oil packer's ink-jets add bar codes (sidebar)
Networking, step one
One of the primary benefits to single-sourcing of ink-jet systems has been the first chance to network all the coding equipment throughout the Petroleum Packers/Amalie Oil plant. This wasn't economical in the past because the company didn't use a single source for both small- and large-character printing. Since the installation of the FoxJet systems the plant has implemented a network for all ink-jet systems what the supplier calls its SystemMaster(TM) networking software. Today says Chip Clarke assistant plant manager Amalie is using the network communicating from the company's main computer. Operators physically go into the FoxJet software choose the message they want to print and download it from the network to the system. The software at the case printers gives operators a chance to preview the message by looking at the graphical representation of the message on the control panel. For tighter control the operators don't have access to changing much of the message and operating parameters. "They can make adjustments on the position of the print by changing the programmed delays. But we have line leaders and supervisors who actually set up the configurations."When the software for Amalie's application is completed the company's plant operations program and its man/machine interface program will be operating in the background. This will communicate with the FoxJet software about message configurations and then automatically download instructions to each print head. Under this procedure the operator would never have to see the message or settings Clarke says. If an adjustment was required it could be accessed from the printer's control system on the plant floor. However once a code change was set up all the operating parameters would be downloaded through the plant operations software. This will permit changing messages far more quickly thus speeding up changeover time on the packaging lines. One other benefit of handling this with software instead of going through set-up at each printer is message and position consistency. "We'll be able to draw from one source for the configurations and parameters of set-up for each customer. With some 200 different private-label accounts that will be extremely helpful" Clarke says.
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