With global consumer demand for canned food at an all-time high, downtime is costing manufacturers more than ever before. Here we explore four ways to ensure you remain productive, profitable and efficient.

The global market for metal food cans continues to grow and is projected to reach 102.5 billion units by 2019. To satisfy fierce customer demand, manufacturers must deliver high volumes on a daily basis. And the pressure on the production line is particularly acute for manufacturers with limited production capacity.

One of the key elements of an efficient production line is the application of traceability codes and other vital information, such as best before dates. Here are four ways to ensure the coding arm of your production operations is smooth, streamlined and consistent.

  1. Protect your printer from the production environment

The production environment for food canning is often harsh: hot, wet, humid or a combination of the three. Daily wash-downs are also likely. That means you need a printer that can withstand the production environment without becoming damaged.

Printers with a high ingress protection (IP) rating are essential to prevent damage to printer electronics – and remember the print head must have a suitable IP rating too. Stainless steel construction will help printers last longer, while for the harshest environments marine grade stainless steel can be used for the ultimate in corrosion resistance.

  1. Minimise coding errors

Coding mistakes are a major cause of downtime. These inaccuracies are often attributed to human error. So, the first step is to restrict what operators can input directly on printers by configuring the user interface (UI) so that production workers can only execute essential actions.

Moving the design and management of label templates away from the production floor takes error prevention further. It ensures coding messages are designed and managed by authorised personnel via software installed on office PCs, away from the production area.

The best option of all is to take human error out of the equation altogether. By integrating printers with business systems such as MES and ERP, coding messages and printing instructions are managed and processed automatically – with little or no need for human intervention.

  1. Optimise print capability

You need your codes to be legible. That’s the whole point. This requires both the printer and ink to be optimised. If the ink drop form generation is imperfect, codes become unclear or unreadable. The most advanced CIJ printers on the market feature print heads and unique frequency-matched drop generators capable of controlling individual ink drop formation to create the perfect drop every time. This makes for reliable, high-speed and consistent code quality.

  1. Twin jet instead of two printers

Thanks to increasingly stringent legislation and the growth in demand for product identification and traceability, many manufacturers are having to print two-line codes due to the volume of information that must be transferred. In order to print these multiline codes one option is to reduce production speeds at the point of coding.

Another is to double up and have two printers. Yet a CIJ printer with a twin jet system will have the same printing capability as two printers, without the additional capital expenditure or ongoing maintenance costs and associated downtime. Twin jet systems print two-line codes twice as fast as a single jet system, allowing manufacturers to meet production targets and maximise revenue.

Make technology work harder for your profits

Getting the right technology for your coding operations is business-critical.

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