Various industries are becoming increasingly aware of product identification solutions, owing to the upsurge of counterfeit products entering the local market from the Far East, says identification and traceability company Traceability Solutions MD Kelby Parker.
This has resulted in a growing demand for reliable, unique and permanent marks on products, which provides them with brand protection, he tells Engineering News, adding that laser marking eliminates the need for costly consumables and printing.
He notes that, once installed in the correct environment – that is, an environment which is dust-free and falls between the temperature limitations of a laser – lasers last for many years, with the only service requirements being inexpensive biannual services to ensure that the lasers are clean and working correctly. If an environment does not meet those requirements, Traceability Solutions can supply a custom enclosure, which will have air conditioning and extraction, to ensure that the laser works optimally.
“Further, laser marking is extremely versatile as it does not displace or damage the material, with very few marking applications for which it cannot be used,” he highlights, further noting that it is high speed, environment friendly and does not create any waste.
Traceability Solutions brings the latest laser-marking technologies to the South African and African markets through its international supplier networks to ensure that client requirements are met.
The company supplies identification and traceability solutions to all industries, from new vehicle manufacturers to the fast-moving consumer goods industry, and provides custom and standard solutions for all industries.
“The company has made its mission to have the correct laser-marking solution for any environment, in every industry, for any material. This is an undertaking that Traceability Solutions is constantly improving and developing using the newest technologies,” Parker enthuses.
As in most emerging markets, there is an influx of cheaper, less reliable lasers from the Far East, encumbering many companies from competing, Parker notes.
“However, even though people may initially try these products, they will eventually get their fingers burnt”, as there are no local aftersales services for these lasers, and trying to communicate with someone in the Far East for assistance is rarely successful, he explains.
However, the most concerning aspect of these lasers entering the market is that they are not manufactured to the same safety standards as lasers manufactured in the US and Europe.
“These lasers may emit some form of radiation, which may be harmful to the operator,” he warns.
He states that Traceability Solutions only supplies and supports the most reliable and well-known international brands; this ensures that, whenever the company installs a laser, it ensures optimal production for clients.
The company also provides full support for all its systems, with its technical team attending to problems within 24 hours.
Further, the company offers an in-house marking service for clients who do not have the volumes to justify buying a laser or only have a once-off requirement for laser marking.
Parker notes that there is significant interest in marking fruits and vegetables directly with laser on the production line, and it is an application on which the company is working.
He explains that this could prevent confusion with sell-by dates, for example, and enable the producer to place its logo onto the ‘skin’ of the particular produce, and to “eliminate labels and printing as a consumable”.
The company is working on unique solutions to prevent counterfeiting, which has been a significant focus for its research and development departments over the last couple of years. For example, it is working on an application to mark directly onto the crust of bread – because of counterfeiting – for one of the premium brands, Parker notes.
Moreover, Traceability Solutions’ newest laser development has been focused on the automation of laser marking systems. The company’s in-house engineering department seamlessly integrates the laser system into a client’s production environment, ensuring optimal use of the system.
Parker notes that the systems can operate completely independent of human intervention using custom software, programmable logic controllers and automation. In cases where high-speed marking with maximum output is required, the engineering department will custom-design a solution and install it, as well as provide training and support.
Traceability Solutions will exhibit at Electra Mining Africa, which will take place at the Nasrec Expo Centre, in Johannesburg, from September 10 to 14. The company will exhibit in Hall 6, stand J25.