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With the occasion of interpack, WorldBakers dedicated features to packaging technologies and trends. As the coding process is a hot topic as well in our industry, looked into it with experts from Linx, a supplier of coding, marking and other industrial printing solutions for the food industry.

By Ioana Oancea

Coding requirements for the baked goods sector can be quite diverse, because of the wide range of products that may be coded. As a result, all these requirements must be understood and considered before deciding on the right coding solution, the specialists from Linx explained.

In this article, we’ll look at some of the main challenges when coding food items, and how to overcome these.

The experts underlines that when it comes to food product coding, there are two main challenges: hygiene and code accuracy.

“Food manufacturing environments need to meet strict hygiene requirements. To meet these, it’s essential that your machinery can be washed, meaning a coder with an IP55 rating should be an essential requirement. However, many bakeries have the added challenge of dust or other particles such as flour in the air, which can cause problems if they enter equipment. The solution here is to choose a coder with an IP65 rating, which protects against dust ingress, and means your coding equipment will operate reliably in your production environment,” the experts say.

IPP 55 enclosure characteristics are: protection from dirt, dust, oil, and other non-corrosive material; complete protection from contact with enclosed equipment; protection from water, up to water projected by a nozzle against enclosure from any direction; available in aluminum, carbon steel, and stainless steel; available in wall-mounted, free standing, trough, and JIC box; engraving, silk-screening, or anodizing services available and custom with cutouts, insulation, hinges, latches, or locks.

For the IP65 or IP67 codes, the characteristics required are rated waterproof and dustproof plastic enclosures.

The next challenge is coding accuracy. It’s important that codes are marked clearly onto products to meet regulations. “Look for a Continuous Ink Jet (CIJ) coder that incorporates a positive air feature. This helps to direct dust away from the print head and the coding surface, making sure codes are clear. This is important because the nature of baked goods usually means short shelf-lives, plus little chance to rework during production, so a clear, accurate code is essential if manufacturers are to avoid scrappage, or worse, rejects from retailers,” as the Linx experts explain.

Look for New Coding Technology

One of the biggest technological breakthroughs in coding solutions is the emergence of small, portable CIJ coders. The expert offers the example of Linx 10, a new coder proper for bakeries that does not need advanced features, but just simple coding. These compact coders allow users to code one or two lines of code onto medium line speeds with a single, universal ink for all purposes.

Compact laser coders are also available, which fit easily into packaging and labeling machinery.

“Other recent breakthroughs include user-friendly touch screen interfaces, meaning operating your coder is as easy as sending a text message on a smartphone. This means operators no longer need extensive training, and there’s a lower chance of things going wrong,” the experts say.

Take the Right Steps before Buying

Before buying a new coder, the producer has to make sure the vendor allows fully testing the equipment. Linx Printing Technologies and their distributors offer a sample marking service for their coding equipment and (beside the fact that a range of CIJ inks can be previously tested) the company can also bring a printer to the factory and conduct a thorough demonstration on the production line.

A trial period, which is the best way to see if the printer is suitable for the application, is also possible. This allows the client testing the printer’s performance in a factory environment, allowing to test out line speed, different substrates and to familiarize the client with the operation of the coder in a real-life coding environment.  

Related articles: 

interpack17 special topic: industry 4.0 

interpack17: Event Highlights 

interpack Special – Technology: Equipment Innovation Drivers 

interpack Special: Home of the Innovation 

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