The key to evaluating coding systems is to evaluate the “cost of operations” rather than just looking at purchase price or ink costs, says Ed Gerri, President of Digital Design. The company is a leading supplier of thermal inkjet systems. Gerri himself is a 25-year veteran of the inkjet printing business who says, “You have to look at all the factors that contribute to the cost of running equipment.”
A key factor is the cost of maintenance. “Those costs include parts and the time for a mechanic to make the maintenance call,” Gerri explains. “But the bigger issue is: ‘what happens to your productivity?’ How much is it going to cost you in lost productivity when you have to shut your entire line down because the coder is down?” Those are factors that should be part of a total cost of operation equation, Gerri concludes.
Another issue is the cost of ink. Gerri continues, saying, “For example, with continuous inkjet [one of the earlier inkjet coding technologies], you can buy a liter of ink from $40 to $70, which is less expensive that the ink cost for thermal inkjet. But, you have to buy five liters of solvent makeup at about $20 per quart to replenish the system because the solvent flashes off as the ink is recirculated.”
Today’s machinery trends emphasize less and simpler maintenance so line operators can keep units running rather than having to call a mechanic. That trend to reduce the costs of operation is driving the trend toward thermal inkjet, Gerri stresses.
“The value proposition of thermal ink jet is driving changes in coding,” Gerri continues. The reliability, the ease of use, and the cleanliness of thermal inkjet versus continuous ink jet are key factors as packagers look at all the elements that contribute to operating costs.
“And, anyone who doesn’t look at the total cost of ownership is missing the boat,” Gerri concludes.