Product identification and traceability innovation: a global perspective
Both product identification and traceability are used across a range of different industries, each of which has its own unique set of labelling requirements. The one you choose largely depends upon the sector your business operates in – from food and produce to automotive parts and pharmaceuticals.
The food processing industry tracks the journey of food using barcodes and RFID tags. This is a compulsory exercise which was brought about by the EU General Food Law in 2002. The year 2004 saw innovative technology used in tracing animal products, with the advent of the EU TRACES database system, which tracks animals from birth to the abattoir.
The food industry in general, can be broken down into several categories including baked goods, fresh produce and frozen food – each of which has its own product identification and tracking requirements. Different foods have different packaging needs to cater for freshness and transportability. For crisp packets and cardboard boxes through to plastic, tubs there are many technologies on offer which allow printing on these varied materials.
Available printing technologies
Fresh produce packaged in generic film for instance, always requires the use-by date which is most commonly printed using a thermal transfer overprinter. This innovation operates using a high resolution thermal print-head to melt a wax or resin-based ink onto the packaging, and is suitable for printing nutritional panels, ingredients lists, logos and barcodes.
Printing on frozen food requires you to overcome the issues of ice and water. Whether you need to print onto plastic film, ice cream tubs or cardboard, technologies such as pre-printed pressure sensitive labels allow you to do this.
Tracing timber is a must, especially for environmentally conscious businesses sourcing from sustainable forests. Timber mills can print direct onto the wood using Large Character DOD Inkjet printers, which are durable and reliable, and can also be used to label steel pipe and roofing products.
The pharmaceuticals industry requires complete traceability to combat counterfeit goods. Using Linx Food Grade Ink, information can be printed directly onto capsule and tablets, while CIJ printers are ideal for batch numbers and best before dates on packaging.
Traceability code inspection
In addition to the direct printing or marking and label application, you’ll find vision systems technology on offer, which automatically inspects and validates the presence and positioning of labels, checks the tamper seals, caps and closures, and sorts products based on their markings. These innovative machines increase the efficiency of the entire packing process, ensuring the reliability of product quality and improving process control.