October 28, 2021 

Batch Code Machines For Agricultural Industry Packing and Identification

Some of the most commonly used types of batch code machines for agricultural industry packing include case coders and thermal transfer overprinters.

In the United States, the average consumer most likely believes that most agricultural products are used for food. This is understandable, especially considering the availability of domestic produce on the shelves of grocery stores across the country. However, the annual agricultural yield is used for far more than just feeding hungry Americans. 

For example, roughly 40% of all corn grown in the U.S. is used to create biofuels, while around 36% is used to feed livestock. The remaining 24% is mainly exported to the rest of the world, with a small fraction left to develop domestic food products. 

Likewise, other domestic agricultural products are used to develop:

  • Textiles and clothing.
  • Beer and other beverages.
  • Cosmetics.
  • Essential oils and related body care products.

To make these types of products, plants first need to make their way across the supply chain. Once the agricultural goods are produced, companies must place fully traceable batch codes on their packaging to prepare them for distribution. For these codes to work as intended, they must be applied with reliable hardware that is compatible with the selected packaging. However, given how many batch code machines for agricultural industry packaging currently exist on the market, it can be difficult to know which one will be the best fit.

Types of Batch Code Machines for Agricultural Industry

Below, we profile the best batch coding solutions for three of the most common types of agricultural product packaging. With these machines, companies across the industry can make their products fully traceable and comply with labeling laws set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

TTO for VFFS Bag Labeling

Vertical form fill sealing (VFFS), or vertical bagging for short, is a packaging method commonly used throughout the food production industry. VFFS machines streamline the packaging process by automatically creating plastic bags from flat rolls of film while simultaneously loading them with product. 

To successfully mark packaging produced with VFFS machines, companies need to use printers that can create plastic film-compatible codes and withstand the cold, wet, and condensation-filled environments where VFFS machines are typically used. For these reasons, IP-rated thermal transfer overprinters (TTO) are often highly recommended. 

TTO machines utilize ink-coated carrier films to create codes that are durable, sharp, and ideal for plastic film surfaces. By integrating a TTO machine into a VFFS line, operations can continuously create high-quality codes without the need for pre-printed labels. Further, by utilizing a TTO machine with high ingress protection, companies can avoid the issues traditionally associated with high humidity marking environments.

High-Res Case Coder for Cardboard Boxes

Cardboard is one of the most important packaging materials used around the world for pallet shipments and primary, secondary, and direct-to-consumer packaging. It’s utilized in countless industries, including agriculture.

For cardboard cases to successfully serve as either shipping containers or secondary packaging, they not only require traceable batch codes but several other markings as well. Common marking requirements include:

  • Product descriptions.
  • Machine-scannable barcodes.
  • Company logos.
  • Expiration dates.
  • Product origin information.

Agricultural companies frequently use high-resolution piezoelectric case coders to apply these codes and more. 

Case coders, which are a type of drop-on-demand inkjet printer, use electric vibrations to expel thick oil-based inks onto substrates. These thicker inks lead to markings that last longer and appear richer than those made with other inkjet technologies. Additionally, the printheads used by these printers are often large, allowing users to create easily recognizable brand logos and other insignia.

Case coders provide agricultural companies with the tools necessary to make their cardboard boxes fully compliant with modern traceability guidelines. 

CIJ and Laser for Miscellaneous Primary Applications

Primary packaging for agricultural products can take several forms and be made with a wide variety of materials. Depending on how the product is processed, companies may choose one of the following ways to package it for retail sale:

  • Metal can
  • Rigid plastic container
  • Paperboard cartons
  • Glass containers

Although all of these packaging types vary widely in both shape and surface properties, they all require batch codes for traceability purposes. This can be a challenge, especially considering how these packages are frequently filled on fast-moving production lines. However, continuous inkjet printers and laser marking systems make coding these materials simple and reliable.

Both CIJ and laser systems can mark a wide variety of materials at hundreds of meters per minute. Today’s leading models also offer IP-rated enclosures, allowing the machines to resist issues like airborne particles and humidity to maximize uptime. By integrating either one of these marking systems into a production line, agricultural companies can ensure that their products are encased in primary packaging that is traceable and code-compliant.

Looking ahead to the future of agricultural product marking, laser technology could potentially replace the use of stickers on produce products such as apples, pears, and onions. While the use of laser technology is still very foreign in the United States, some parts of Europe are beginning to implement it. This is a trend to watch closely over the next few years.

Want to learn more about batch code machines for agricultural industry applications? Stay connected with C&M Digest by subscribing to our newsletter. With information on hardware, formulas, and other important marking topics, our newsletter will keep you updated on the latest industry developments. To get in touch with us about possible collaborations or ideas for coverage, contact us today.

C&M Digest Team

The C&M Digest Team is composed of experts from across the coding and marking world. Comprised of ink developers, hardware veterans, and engineers, our News Team delivers informed coverage that is always free from brand bias.

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