Whether you are looking at label automation for the first time or if you are getting ready to update some old label printer-applicators that have worn out their welcome, there are a few important things to think about.
Make sure you have all the information you need to make a decision that will reward you for years to come.
There are quite a few different varieties and manufacturers of print-apply systems out there. Most work well, as advertised.
But there are some major differences in the features and construction of these systems that can effect production up-time, maintenance and longevity.
Some Common Issues
Depending on your type of product and the production line that the print-apply system is used on, it can see modest to over-whelming activity. First time automation companies might just be labeling 10-20 pieces an hour, where a distribution center might be labeling a package every few seconds.
But in both cases, durability is a major consideration. What would happen if the machine failed? Can you have your production line down for any length of time while the system is fixed? This could create a bottle-neck that keeps products from going out the door. You can employ a zero-downtime system that has a back-up printer-applicator, but that can get expensive.
When looking for a new print-apply system, see who has a proven track record of durable systems with a good maintenance track record. As with anything, you get what you pay for. Buying a cheap system will only bring future headaches as well as a pain in your wallet when you have to replace it too soon.
Check out systems that are built using substantial materials like stainless steel and aluminum plate. Check and see if all the connections are protected from damage or abuse. Are moving parts like applicator arms shielded to protect the operator or local workers? Make sure the print engine that you chose is a new model from a major manufacturer like Zebra or Sato with up-to-date features. These integrate easily with your online systems for loading label formats and monitoring jobs.