Part 2 of 4
by Cassandra Balentine
Marking and coding systems are a critical element to the manufacturing and packaging process. For food and beverage industries, codes are used to identify specific batches, which are essential in the event of a recall. Further, best-by and expiration dates are added with marking and coding devices.
Time for a Revamp
Crest Foods Co., Inc. is located in Ashton, IL. The company is a contract, private-label packager experienced in manufacturing, blending, and packaging a range of dry food products.
Specific to its cup, bag, and carton packaging, Crest recently decided to update its marking and coding system. While satisfactory, it was running into maintenance issues that were slowing down its production times.
The company started searching for a new system, eventually landing on the the MK-U6000 Series industrial inkjet printer from Keyence Corporation of America. This high-speed, clog-resistant marking and coding system features an easy-to-use, touchscreen operator interface and is engineered to offer a combination of automatic maintenance and advanced quality control. The system is designed so print quality is easy to inspect. The printer can be linked to an image sensor with one cable.
Since maintenance was its prior pain point, it is happy with the MK-U6000 because replacement of consumable parts is simple to accomplish and does not require tools.
Before committing to the new inkjet system, Crest conducted a three-week trial and installed its first Keyence system in March 2015. Currently, the contract packer is operating ten Keyence MK printers, printing one to three lines of alphanumeric data, depending on the product application and package size. These printers accommodate Crest’s cups, pouches, and cartons in various sizes.
“Since using the Keyence printers, we have saved on downtime and these printers deliver excellent print quality. They are among the simplest-to-use printers on the market,” comments James Shuck, maintenance supervisor, Crest. If we encounter a glitch, the system walks us through, step-by-step, to repair or correct the problem. So our line operator usually can rectify the situation without needing to call on maintenance personnel. Keyence has provided excellent service, and our Keyence contact is always right there to respond quickly to any concerns.”
Shuck also notes that with some of its powdered products, it is prone to a dusty environment. The Keyence units with their auto-clean feature have stood up well. “When we have had to do filter replacements and various other maintenance on some units, the Keyence service instructions provided specific and easy step-by-step guidance. And when we order inks or other supplies from Keyence, they usually arrive within a day.”
While the MK-U6000 is discontinued, Keyence offers its MK-G1000 continuous inkjet printer. This solution features automatic nozzle cleaning, ink draining, internal cleaning, jet operation, error display, error history, maintenance history, internal path monitor, maintenance guidance, error clearing guidance, auto-shower, sleep mode, and path recovery.
Even if something isn’t quite broken, sometimes it makes sense to reevaluate. While Crest was satisfied with its original inkjet marking system, a move to Keyence offered easier maintenance, which in turn improved its uptime. IPM
Read part one of this series, Pharma Marking.
Jul2021, Industrial Print Magazine