When it comes to food and beverage packaging, variety in format, size and shape has opened up new outlets and sales. But it has also added complexity to date coding operations, from working with new substrates to finding the best spot on the package to put the code. Luckily, coding equipment technologies and ink choices are keeping up.
Mark Breunig, North American product manager—continuous inkjet (CIJ), at Videojet Technologies tells Packaging Digest where coding technologies have been shifting and what to expect next.
When it comes to date coding for foods and beverages, what shifts have you been seeing with your customers and why?
Breunig: The amount of information marked has increased over time. Where we used to see simple “best by” and “sell by” dates, now we're seeing the addition of variable data such as country of origin, lot/batch and line specific identifications.
In addition, some customers have been looking to non-continuous inkjet (CIJ) technologies like thermal inkjet and laser marking when their substrates and product lines are compatible. These other technologies can offer higher resolution text and images that can be helpful in enhancing the look of a product or packaging.
How do you think date coding operations in food and beverage plants will improve in the near future?
Breunig: Coding technology continues to become more automated and integrated into the manufacturing equipment. Each technology, from laser marking to continuous inkjet, thermal inkjet and thermal transfer overprinting, has seen tremendous innovation in the last few years as a result of new packaging substrates and the demand for greater speed and reliability.
New "green" ink developments allow for high-speed coding with aggressive dry times and performance and reduced environmental impact.