It’s easy to see the importance of traceable markings for the pre-packaged food industry. Just look at any food product in your local supermarket. On all product packaging, you’re bound to find a combination of codes, dates, and informative text.
These markings are so prevalent for multiple reasons.
Given the multi-purpose nature of these codes, they are often required by both retail outlets and supply chain partners. If the codes are misapplied or illegible, manufacturers are liable to face several costly penalties, including fines and recalls. Consequently, manufacturers must treat food packaging printing seriously.
To help food companies comply with labeling guidelines, we’ve made a quick list of the three best food printing practices. With these steps, line managers can strengthen their workflows and ensure marking success.
Food packaging can be made from a variety of materials, with each form providing different levels of product protection. Some of the most common food packaging forms include:
These materials differ in ways that significantly influence printing best practices. For one, they all feature varying levels of surface porosity. Porous and non-porous materials absorb ink differently, so to ensure that codes maintain a high level of readability and longevity, line operators must use substrate-compatible ink formulas.
Where the printer will be situated should also be considered. Flexible pouches, for example, can be marked either before or after they’re filled with product contents depending on the line setup. The before/after choice impacts the effectiveness of certain marking technologies, complicating the question of which hardware is best for the application.
In addition, one must also consider:
With all of these different elements to evaluate, it’s always best practice to consult with a printing expert before buying a line printer. By consulting with a trusted industrial printing company, businesses can find the best equipment to fit their needs and avoid any potential coding problems.
By consulting with a printing expert, food packaging companies can also receive help in creating easily repeatable workflows.
Modern coding technologies like continuous inkjet printers, thermal inkjet printers, and thermal transfer overprinters already lend themselves well to repeatability. As digital printing systems, they can all be integrated into larger IT systems to pull label information as well as enable remote operation. With each of these hardware options, operators can create workflows that lead to consistently high-quality codes that can be repeated indefinitely—that is, as long as workers follow the program.
To ensure that all workers understand how they contribute to overall line effectiveness, we recommend:
In an industry like food packaging, reliable daily output is a must. Large production companies need to meet quotas to prevent product shortages and comply with retail supplier agreements. Considering these requirements, most companies can’t afford periods of profit-draining downtime.
To maximize uptime, operators must keep marking equipment in top shape through regular maintenance and responsible usage. Additionally, companies can further protect themselves against downtime by purchasing a backup printer. In the case of equipment failure, workers can install the backup printer on the line to maintain production while scheduling repair services for the malfunctioning hardware.
For those in food production, maintaining high code quality is crucial to complying with guidelines set by both supply chain partners and federal regulators. To ensure quality food packaging printing, workflows must be well-established, equipment must be well-kept and employees must be well-trained. While this takes time and capital to achieve, it leads to upticks in productivity and helps avoid costly logistical errors.
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