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Coding and marking specialist Interactive Coding Equipment (ICE) has launched a next-generation thermal transfer overprinter (TTO), which is able to monitor and report on the quality of each code it produces.
This is said to largely remove the need to include a vision system on the line in order to meet increasing demand from retailers for code quality checks. ICE further states that Zodiac Hawk TTO helps businesses improve their overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) by being the first coder that can report on all three elements of OEE, with quality now included alongside performance and availability.
Zodiac Hawk features iAssure, an internal checking system that assesses the spent ribbon after each code has been produced to determine whether the print quality has been good enough. If the code is deemed to be unacceptable, Zodiac Hawk can signal for the pack to be rejected and if the fault persists, can declare a trend of deterioration and stop the line entirely.
Zodiac Hawk’s ability to provide early warning of any potential loss of code quality is said to minimize production disruption and downtime, as well as reduce the risk of customer complaints or the possibility of a product recall. All information on poor quality codes, along with guidance for rectifying the problem, is reported on the control screen or may be accessed and printed off remotely.
And as Zodiac Hawk operates without compressed air to generate the necessary force for the printhead, and the entire printing operation is now controlled by the Zodiac Hawk’s software, ICE said this ensures consistent and reliable coding. The electronic system used to provide and regulate printhead force will also provide increased print head life in most applications, it is claimed.
Zodiac Hawk has a 1,200 meter ribbon capacity and is able to operate in continuous or intermittent print modes, with line speeds as high as 700 packs per minute achievable. The system is fully modular, allowing up to four printers to be operated from a single screen, which is a full-color touchscreen with CLARiTY operating system.
ICE director Chris Simpson said: ‘We believe the Zodiac Hawk represents a major step forward in thermal transfer overprinting. A reduction in code quality can disrupt production and has the potential to generate consumer complaints and damage brand reputation, but in the past monitoring codes effectively has required investment in additional expensive equipment.
‘Now with Zodiac Hawk, this vital task is carried out as part of the actual coding operation, offering a highly efficient and cost-effective means of ensuring the quality of every code.’