Laser-coding guide dispels misconceptions, enhances technology

14th April 2017 By: Tasneem Bulbulia - Creamer Media Reporter

Laser-coding guide dispels misconceptions, enhances technology

CODING SOLUTION SmartLase is a laser-coding technology engineered by Markem-Imaje, designed to specifically meet the challenge faced on the fastest production lines

Global coding and marking specialist solutions provider Markem-Imaje, represented in Southern Africa by product identification solutions provider Pyrotec, has produced a guide focusing on laser-coding technology that aims to help manufacturers meet the technical challenges commonly encountered on production lines.

Pyrotec PackMark GM Brandon Pearce says the guide considers how the use of a more complex and longer code – in conjunction with the increasingly demanding regulatory standard, for example – is affecting everyday operations. Pyrotec PackMark is the machinery division of Pyrotec.

The guide illustrates how innovative technology, including improved cooling systems, reduced maintenance requirements and improved reliability, enables manufacturers to cover the most difficult applications.

“The guide challenges outdated perceptions and shows how laser-coding solutions can offer financial savings, as well as improve coding quality,” avers Pearce.

This guide, produced in 2016, educates manufacturers on the innovative technology, which ultimately results in long-term savings.

Pearce informs that the guide is being distributed to manufacturers by sales consultants, as well as through marketing activities. He notes that manufacturers have responded positively to the guide, owing to the total cost of ownership and savings from the innovative technology.

Innovative Technology

The guide outlines the benefits and uses of SmartLase coding solutions, a laser-coding technology engineered by Markem-Imaje.

SmartLase coding solutions deliver a coding capacity of up to 1 400 average-sized bottles a minute, and boast the ability to mark codes of up to 60 characters while operating 24/7. It has been designed to specifically meet the challenges faced on the fastest production lines.

The SmartLase coding solution contains a unique cooling system that features two central fans, in addition to heat dissipaters at the front and rear of the coder to provide balanced cooling across the laser source and the scan head.

These features enable the SmartLase coding solution to operate effectively within a wide ambient temperature range (5 ºC to 45 ºC) with application duty cycles as high as 80%, without any adverse effect on code quality and with no downtime. This provides an advantage not offered by many conventional laser coders, as they can operate effectively only at up to 40 ºC, with application duty cycles limited to a maximum of 60%.

Ongoing reliability tests have been conducted by Markem-Imaje with many SmartLase coding solutions over the past three years.

“Each unit has been subjected to extreme conditions, including temperatures of up to 45 ºC (the highest-risk area), high print cycle rates for up to 23h/d, and inrush currents to stress the laser’s components. These tests have accumulated over six-billion prints to confirm a mean time between failures of 60 000 hours. This includes the laser source, print head and controller,” says Markem-Imaje product reliability and regulatory compliance manager Paul Hebert.

To protect the laser from dust and liquid, SmartLase coding solutions are constructed using modular stainless steel units.

Pearce expounds on the benefits provided by SmartLase coding solutions. Compared with conventional laser coders, it offers greater protection in wet and dusty environments, which improves operational efficiency and cost effectiveness.

Further, the technology requires minimal maintenance, and all electronic parts are housed in sealed compartments to protect them from the most rigorous cleaning procedures that might otherwise cause random faults.

“Our advanced laser technology is engineered to operate at very high speed and reliably print high-quality codes. Over the three years of testing, our laser coders have proven to be more reliable than other coders on the market,” says Markem-Imaje group laser product manager Stéphane Valette.

Pearce notes that food and beverage companies, such as Nestlé and Tiger Brands Beacon, have coded their chocolate wrappers; Ferrero Rocher has coded its Kinderjoy product; science-led global healthcare company GSK has coded its pharmaceutical products; and global food and drink packaging specialist Huhtamaki has coded its paper cups using the SmartLase.