While the majority of its products in South Africa are sold to the public sector, asset tracking label manufacturer Hue-Tone Manufacturing manager Bruce Pringle believes there is also greater potential for these products to be used in the private sector.
The company’s anodised aluminium labels, which have barcodes or two- dimensional codes, are used in ware- houses to designate floor spaces or bin locations, on pallets in automotive assembly lines to manage components and production lines, and for asset tracking in all manner of businesses and government departments.
The labels, which usually have a bar- code but can also contain graphics in monotone or full colour, are resistant to chemicals, corrosion, mechanical wear and weathering.
Currently, the company provides the bulk of its labels in South Africa to government institutions and departments.
Pringle points to the company’s successful and successive asset tracking label production for national, provincial and municipal government institutions. This means that many government institutions throughout the country have used the labels to track everything from black- boards, cell phones and toolboxes, to computers and machines.
Hue-Tone also recently completed a 310 000-label order for a provincial Department of Health to enable the identification and tracking of assets, which assists it during audits and with budget decisions about the replacement of ageing assets.
“Our labels are well known in South African government circles and our 39 mm × 13 mm × 0.5 mm aluminium labels with acetone-activated adhesive have become almost a standard for government insti- tution tracking labels,” he explains. Hue-Tone can produce labels up to 950 mm × 500 mm in size. Most of the company’s labels are sold to customer companies that provide asset tracking solutions and software for third parties.
Further, the company also exports its labels to Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda, as well as to Southern African countries such as Mozambique and Namibia.
“However, in these countries, the labels are mostly used by commercial ventures, nongovernmental organisations and banks, especially large banks, which is almost the opposite of our market in South Africa,” he says.
This difference in market composi- tion leads Pringle to believe that there is a potential market for such products in South Africa’s private sector.
“We regularly supply labels to commer- cial ventures in South Africa, but not at the same volumes as our exports into Africa for commercial banks, electoral commissions and nongovernmental organisations,” he says.
In April, Hue-Tone completed a label- ling project for a warehouse in Gauteng, which saw the labels placed on the factory floor being countersunk into the floor to reduce the possibility of the forklifts’ steel forks scraping along the plates and damaging them.
“Our labels are very durable. They are attached with a high-specification ace- tone-activated adhesive that has good bonding qualities and cannot be removed without damaging the label or the asset it is attached to,” Pringle says.
The image, information or barcode is dyed into the aluminium after the plates are anodised, and becomes part of the aluminium plate when it is sealed. Some of the colours do fade if continuously exposed to ultraviolet light, but the definition of the image, barcode or infor- mation remains high, which allows for scanner systems to effectively track the assets.
“The emphasis for us is on the quality and durability of the labels. The cost of implementing an asset tracking system is significant and using good-quality labels is essential to ensure the long-term effectiveness of such systems. We can produce high volumes of labels for large-scale applications, or small volumes for small companies or district councils,” he concludes.