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Lasers at Lipton

Lipton, a division of Unilever Bestfoods based in Suffolk, VA, recently installed Markem SmartLase™ laser coder systems on all 13 of its tea-cartoning lines. Lipton found it imperative to replace its existing wax-jet marking and coding equipment for its tea cartons, because the machines were producing inadequate codes. The wax-based codes were subject to physical damage and consistently rubbed off of the packaging. Jonathan Jett-Palmer, manufacturing manager for Lipton, needed to find a solution for imprinting codes that could print the time, date and month of manufacture on the cartons. However, Jett-Palmer did not want to purchase solvent-based marking and coding systems because of toxicity risks.

Low-power CO2 laser coder produces high-quality, permanent and immediate codes.

After investigating the market, Jett-Palmer installed a MARKEM SmartLase laser coder system about 18 months ago. Jett-Palmer evaluated the system for a year, and it did so well that he installed 12 additional SmartLase systems on the 12 other packaging lines in the plant, converting the entire plant to lasers. The laser coders have increased line speeds for Lipton, produce significantly better quality codes, use no toxic inks and require no consumables.

"We started working on this project eighteen months ago to resolve consumer complaints and issues about codes. Our goal was to standardize the appearance of the codes on all of our tea cartons and provide a high degree of legibility," says Jett-Palmer. "A major requirement was accuracy. We had a common place on all of the cartons to look for the date codes, and we wanted to hit the same spot every time with an accuracy of one-sixteenth inch."

SmartLase laser coders are low-power, carbon dioxide digital systems that produce high-quality, permanent and immediate codes. These coders are compact and provide crisp, clean marks and codes. They cost little to operate and are extremely reliable. Requiring no supplies, these coders are designed with a bottom-line impact in mind. Other benefits include:

• The laser coders can be easily installed on most production lines because of the compact size of the machine and a variable-position printing nozzle, which make it easy to mount and safeguard.

• The SmartLase QWERTY user interface allows for printing to be executed exactly when and where it is needed.

• The air-cooled CO2 carbon dioxide laser is one of the safest coding systems when installed and guarded properly.

• The low purchase cost of the system, combined with its simple integration requirements, make this solution easy on capital budgets.

• The SmartLase coder does not require a PC on the factory floor and can be fully integrated in a manufacturing process with Markem's CimControl™ networking software.

"We shopped around and determined that Markem has the most technologically advanced system on the market. It is very small, so it fits into our lines, and it is easy to install. We were concerned about reliability, so we ran the first unit for a year, and we had no problems," says Jett-Palmer. "We are very pleased with Markem. The newer units are very advanced and intuitive. We just set the code once, and the internal clock sets the time and date. Markem helped with the first installation, and we handled the rest ourselves."

More information is available:

Laser printers: Markem Corp., 866/263-4644. www.Markem.com. Circle No. 204.

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