Why printer control is key to best practice food packaging line automation?
Comprehensive control and automation of your printers is key to the elimination of packaging errors and related product recalls. Automated systems remove human error from the shop floor, allowing your technical function to control the printing of date codes. Here Faye Louch, OAL Connected's Trainer explains why it's important and how your automated system needs to function to prevent product recalls. With over twenty years’ experience working in food industry for leading manufacturers such as Bakkavor, Faye has the practical experience to ensure your teams get the most out of your automated systems.
Printer feedback loop
We all know the printer is critical to the correct application of date codes in your packaging line. But its ability to print the correct code is only as reliable as the information it's being fed. If operators are setting date codes manually, the nature of a busy packaging line means it's easy to make mistakes.
Autocoding systems, like our OAL Connected system illustrated below, create a feedback loop between the printer and the technically controlled system. In doing so, if an operator manually intefers with the printer, the line is stopped and your technical team is notified.
If a printer goes offline or enter a fault status, food manufacturers run the risk of incorrectly date coding or not printing any date code on package. With an automated label and date code verification system, the feedback loop means that if your printer goes offline or enters a fault status, technical is notified and the line stops.
This two way connectivity means if a job can't load to a printer because of a fault status, the line stops and only when the printer is fixed can the line run and the job load. For instance, if a printer goes offline, it sends a error message to the system stopping the line. Typical printer error statuses include:
For a ribbon printer, the ribbon snaps resulting in an error
For inkjet printer the nozzles can get gummed up.
Some printers enter an error status if they require servicing.
If parts are removed from printer they can enter a fault status.