You’re probably already using a barcode strategy to track your production processes and understand the value barcodes and markings offer when it comes to tracking, branding and inventory.
But did you know there are more ways you can add value to your processes through marking? Here are a few ways you can improve overall efficiencies and integrity through rubber belt barcoding and marking.
1. Utilize a print on demand strategy to reduce waste and costs
For a long time screen printing was the standard for rubber marking, but a more convenient option came along—pre-printed transfer films. Both of these methods are still commonly used today but there is another option that we feel is a bit underutilized—print on-demand.
With a print on-demand strategy you can prepare transfer films in house without the time and hassle involved in screen printing, free-up storage space once dedicated to pre-printed films and accommodate variable data.
As an example of what a print on-demand system could look like in the rubber environment, let’s take a look at our own TransMark Classic Printer. The TransMark Classic uses thermal transfer technology and runs similar to most thermal transfer printers, allowing your team to print necessary information directly onto film strips as needed.
It should be mentioned that although our TransMark system utilizes thermal transfer print technology, not just any thermal transfer printer will work for this application. You will need to look for a printer specifically designed to accommodate clear media in heavily industrial environments. Printers not engineered to print on clear media or withstand the harsh rubber manufacturing environment can quickly become damaged beyond repair.
When you utilize a print on-demand strategy you don’t have to worry about stocked up films going out of date or buying heavy equipment for screen printing. Instead, you can purchase a compact thermal transfer solution (or several) that allows updates to be made as they are available and employees to print only as needed so as to avoid unnecessary waste and expense.
2. Add color to your marks for at-a-glance recognition or brand representation
Utilizing color in your rubber marking strategy can be incredibly helpful in keeping things organized and making your brand stand out to end users.
If your plant manufactures multiple brands or varieties of rubber products it might be a good idea to try using different colors on each brand or variety to simplify identification. Color coding your product makes it much easier to locate inventoried product and ensure each item follows the proper chain of custody.
Another way color can be used is to differentiate static and variable information. You may have static information such as a logo, brand name or item name listed on one side of the film while variable date and lot codes are found on the other side. In an effort to maximize the readability of your variable data you may want to use a colored ink for the static information and a white ink for your variable data.
If you decide to incorporate color into your marking strategy for branding purposes you may be able to take advantage of custom color matching services. So, if accurately representing your brand is a priority you can make it happen!
3. Bring print stations to work centers to reduce unnecessary movement and error
If you do choose to implement a thermal transfer print-on-demand solution such as TransMark you should know that in comparison to a screen printing center, these printers are quite compact and portable. Because of this, we recommend a printer for each workstation to reduce movement and maximize efficiency.
When you bring a print system to each work station you promote leaner practices by reducing various forms of waste and increasing efficiency. Though we think you’ll find more value in the aforementioned blog about our TransMark system and lean principles, we can condense a bit for the sake of this article. There are two main areas this method can help improve efficiencies: movement and error proofing.
With the ability to prepare their own films, employees no longer need to travel to and from the print center or storage areas to retrieve pre-printed films. Instead, they can press a button and print what they need, when they need it and apply it to the rubber directly before processing.
When you eliminate all that running around you give your employees more time and energy to focus on the duties that bring the most value.
In addition to increasing the efficiency of your processes, you reduce opportunities for error.
When employees can print what they need when they need it there is less time for error to be made and no opportunity for the incorrect or expired films to be picked up from the warehouse. Additionally, it opens up opportunities for corrections. If an employee makes a mistake when printing they have the opportunity to correct their mistake immediately, or if an update is made to the design of your films, systems can be updated and ribbons changed out.
Error proofing assists in improving efficiencies by eliminating bottlenecks before they ever happen. What might be a small issue or go unnoticed in the beginning may evolve into a time consuming problem down the road, correcting these issues right away can prevent them from growing.
Your existing barcoding and marking system has likely already proven to increase efficiencies, otherwise you probably wouldn’t be investing in it! So, if you’re looking to improve efficiencies in your plant, why not give optimizing that strategy a try!
Any of the strategies we mentioned can be implemented and combined to increase efficiencies in labeling and throughout your processes. We hope this post gave you a few ideas!