How printing technology is keeping up with customization
Cosmetics Design found out from product identification specialist Videojet Technologies how this pace is impacting the development of in-line printing, coding and marking by providing solutions that are not only designed to boost branding, but are also helping businesses to quicker adapt their products to trends and regulatory changes.
The pace of change in an industry that has always wanted products on retail shelves ‘yesterday’, has never been faster, explains James Wolff, global marketing manager for Videojet Technologies, while changes to products also leads to a constant state of catch up on suppliers and technology.
Smaller batches means more work on labelling
Cosmetics and personal care production lines are increasingly facing up to the challenge of producing smaller and smaller batches of more personalized products, and while processing technology has to keep up with this change, so too does the labelling.
“Consumer preferences for personalized and dual-purpose packaging has created the need for printing technology that can handle intricate label design, as well as unconventional shapes and substrates. Furthermore, each additional product type requires printer setup for labelling and identification specific to government or retailer requirements,” said Wolff.
Behind these increasingly complex production batches, coding determines crucial elements such as the batch numbers, expiration date and other updates to
the product labels, and often human error leads to mistakes that can cost businesses dearly.
And besides the coding process, constant batch updates can also lead to additional problems with the physical aspect of printing labels.
“Inks may interact differently across porous and non-porous substrates and laser marking systems may also interact differently to small changes in substrate composition,” said Wolff, who adds that a top of the line printer with the versatility to automatically change logos, codes and labels, is a wise investment.
Technologies that raise the bar
“In dynamic industries such as cosmetics, it’s imperative to partner with product identification experts who can offer a broad array of technical solutions,” said Wolff, who pointed to three printing technologies designed to enhance the process and print quality.
Continuous Inkjet (CIJ) is one solution that can be used to print on nearly any packaging type or shape, while laser marking can be used to print 2D bar codes and readable codes and Thermal Transfer Overprinting (TTO) is good for flexible packages, such as pouches.
But when it comes to all-important software solutions, Wolff believes that Inkjet Technologies now has a technology that is well suited to the ever-changing product identification needs of cosmetics players.
It recently launched a new technology, Simplicity, which is a software said to reduce operator printer interactions, while also helping to eliminate user errors through an intuitive touchscreen interface.
“During changeovers, the new job can quickly be selected at the software-installed PC or Videojet printer,” Wolff explains. “Or, alternatively, a bar code can be scanned from a work order or from the product itself with a hand-scanner. Optional bar code scanners or vision devices can provide further code assurance by validating downstream codes.”
To further enhance the offering, the company has also developed VideojetConnect, a remote service that provides a cloud-based approach to service, with tools designed to quickly fix any faults at the touch of a button.
“Ultimately, the key to coding and marking operations lies in installing systems and software solutions that add value to a production line from the outset with the least amount of operator input,” Wolff concludes