Virtually all products/packaging destined for consumers need to carry a legible mark or code. This could be a batch number to aid traceability, a use-by date code to protect consumers, or a datamatrix barcode for serialisation.
Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as picking the lowest cost coder or printer that can do the job. The initial investment doesn’t often reflect the total cost of ownership. You will need to consider the cost of consumables, maintenance, downtime and waste.
We’ve written a full guide to calculate the cost of coding, which you can read here.
The last thing you want is a poorly printed code that cannot be read, or one that smudges or rubs off. Not only could this result in waste product but it could also result in hefty fines or, worse still, a damaged brand reputation, with customers choosing to shop elsewhere as a result.
A reputable supplier will offer to undertake free print tests on your products or packaging with their equipment to prove that they’re up to the job. It’s also important that they have a wide range of inks – that way you know you’re covered if you need to print onto a different packaging substrate at a later date.
Don’t be afraid to ask who they have worked with previously – case studies and testimonials should be readily available for you to look through, prior to making your decision.
The one thing a supplier cannot replicate for their print tests is the environment in which the samples are to be printed. If your manufacturing facilities are particularly dusty for example, you need to ensure that the coder can cope with that, so make sure to mention it at the initial enquiry stage.
As your business grows and evolves, so will your coding requirements. You may only need to apply a simple date code to one type of product now, but this could soon become several products of differing materials. You may also need to print onto outer cases and pallets, or comply with international requirements if you wish to sell your products overseas.
Consider whether your coding solution will be able to meet not only the requirements of your business now, but the requirements of your business several years down the line.
You also need to look at the supplier. Will they be able to fulfil your coding needs as you grow? Look at their product range and ask the right questions. Will what you’re investing in scale up effectively? How well does it integrate with other equipment? Can it print more sophisticated codes if required?
Even the most reliable coding solution can go wrong from time to time. To ensure minimal downtime you need to know the support from the supplier is there if you need it.
How knowledgeable are their support team? Will they be able to reach you easily if there’s a problem? What measures can be put in place to prevent unexpected issues occurring? What does the warranty cover? Can they replace a system quickly if they need to?
If you would like any further advice on how to best choose your coding technology or technology supplier, please contact us
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