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Live at PACK EXPO East: Coding & Marking’s Role in Workforce, E-Comm

In the coding and marking equipment category at PACK EXPO East, we saw examples of new tech aimed at the e-commerce market, and entry-level equipment alleviating workforce strains.

Quick hits:

  • Like all packaging equipment innovations, new entries into the coding and marking category seen at PACK EXPO East directly reflect bigger marketplace needs and trends.
  • ProMach’s ID Technology offers high-res, direct-to-corrugated printing, up to 8 ins. in height, that could help to obviate buying pre-printed corrugated. E-commerce applications abound.
  • Bell-Mark’s “entry level” coding and marking system gives the ease-of-use, simple HMI, and worker-friendly maintenance that can help a packager navigate a tight labor market 

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Matt Reynolds: Hello, Matt Reynolds here, editor of Packaging World, back with another edition of Take Five.

I was just at PACK EXPO East a couple of weeks ago, and with 6,600 attendees across nearly 100,000 net square feet of exhibit space, it was the largest PACK EXPO East since the event’s inception. That’s not bad for a regional show, and further evidence of our industry being eager to get back to normal activates, like live events.

Now, we’re usually using Take Five videos to cover broad, over-arching topics like e-commerce, sustainable packaging, and ways to mitigate against a thin workforce. We tend to use a wide-angle lens in our discussion, so we can’t always cover the specific, discrete equipment that’re necessary to successfully navigate these trends.

Well, shot some video of interesting new packaging systems at PACK EXPO East, and you’ll see that the new technology is aimed at helping packaging operations at brands and co-packers optimize for sustainability, workforce, and e-commerce, among other things. Today we’ll zoom in on the coding and marketing equipment category.

One new Thermal Inkjet system that stood out to me at PACK EXPO East addresses workforce issues with low maintenance needs, out-of-the-box commissioning, simple and easy to use HMI, and limited moving parts. Some might say this is an entry-level system, but that simply means it fills a very specific, and pressing need in today’s environment. Ease of use, maintenance-friendly design, and overall simplicity and accessibility are key. Let’s watch.

James Pugh: This is a Bell-Mark's latest Thermal Inkjet offering is the InteliJet TSI. This is an entry level Thermal Inkjet printer that uses a seven inch touchscreen with built in label creation software. The whole idea for this is for a customer to replace any continuous inkjet printer or any simple code date printer whether it's thermal transfer continuous inkjet with the maintenance free printing system, so the customer can purchase this and out of the box, they can be up and running production within minutes by what's actually provided with it.

So in the box, a customer would get an HMI where they would be able to walk through a user user sprees by code date set up with variable data entry comes with a single printhead comes with a Pinto sensor mounts, and this Versa mounts that you'll see here to allow it to mount retrofit to almost any application whether it's a conveyor, a packaging, machine, flow, wrapper, hip taper etc. There are additional options that include with it. But this system is great for any single file or anybody who has a continuous inkjet printer because it requires no maintenance. Sticking with the thermal inkjet technology, we've developed a system here the InteliJet TSI, this is designed for all of your typical stick packs or portion packs.

So your typical, let's say ketchup packet or a crystal light powder pack that you'd pour into a water bottle. Those are made on stick pack machines, I have multi lanes across anywhere from four to 20 lanes, we're utilizing the thermal inkjet technology, we've created the TSI, which has the printhead staggered across. So the beauty is it's a very small footprint compact that doesn't require any maintenance, it has no moving parts. So unlike a inkjet that might have to sweep across, but is a very maintenance intensive, cause a lot of downtime plus you've got the traversing system. It also is not a thermal transfer system, which might need multiple printheads, to sweep across with ribbon. And it's significantly less costly upfront than a laser system. And then you'd be able to simply pull out this system, which would come out from this backpack machine. And you could get direct access to all the printheads off the machine for me ease of use ease of access, and then you'd simply push this back into place and be able to run production again.

Matt Reynolds: And we’re back. Next up in the coding and marking category is a system that prints in High def directly onto corrugated cases, all the way up to 8-inches in height. There are clear e-commerce applications for this system, as it potentially obviates the need to buy pre-printed corrugated, and is flexible enough to handle high variability. Let’s see what the 45th Most Visionary Marketer in Packaging, my buddy David Holliday, has to say about the new system.

David Holliday: Hi there. This is David Holliday. I'm with ProMach labeling and coding and I'm here at PACK EXPO East. We have a brand new product, the ClearMark HR high resolution printer for printing directly to corrugated cases for barcodes, text graphics, nutrition statements, really anything that you need. This is a new version of the printer. It consists of a number of modules. Starting here with the ink module, which also contains most of the controls for the system. It has some diagnostic LEDs right on the back, and the ink cartridge fits right into that it fits in securely—no mistakes, just so easy to do. The printer itself is an industry proven piezo printhead. It comes in both two inch and four inch versions are in fact by using a pair of four inch printers, it's possible to print a print area of eight inches tall, meaning that in many cases, you can print the complete case and not have to buy pre printed corrugated material.

The whole thing with this is that I can quickly remove the printhead just by twisting it for repair for maintenance. And I can also interchange them, if I happen to have a two inch printhead on here, I can literally take it off and replace it with a four inch and be back in business running really really quickly. So that's all a lot of pluses in that area. The other area where there's been a lot of changes is in the controls. This is a Windows based controller where I can design my print formats right on here or with the included PC software. And it also provides all the control for up to eight printheads really cool feature is we have built in wireless networking. So my controls are communicating to the printer itself. In this case, I could add another seven if I needed to over local Wi Fi. So it has the advantages of Wi Fi without having to be put onto the customer's network, which sometimes can can be an issue.

Matt Reynolds: As you can see, coding and marking innovation ratchets up to all the big-picture topics we cover here at Packaging World. 

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