Industry 4.0: Maximise your Production Efficiency
Coding and marking is a small but integral part of production in food, beverage and pharmaceutical factories across the globe. Legislation dictates that nothing can leave the factory unless the right code has been applied to the packaging – whether it is a date code or a code for identification purposes. If a product does leave without a code or an incorrect one, recalls and possible fines are costly, both in cash terms and potential impact on the manufacturer’s brand.
While codes are a safeguard for consumers, it adds complexity to production. The ideal is that coding printers are virtually invisible on the production line – applying letters and digits to packaging as if by magic – and are never the cause of unplanned downtime.
This may sound like a fantasy. We are, after all, talking about machines. Machines that run out of ink, machines that get clogged up, and machines that are in the hands of error-prone people can print whatever they’re instructed to do. And whether it’s a genuine mistake or a malicious act, the consequences are the same – recalls, rework and potentially fines.
From a coding and marking perspective, combatting the factors that cause unplanned downtime in production can largely be put into two groups: keeping printers running and making sure the right code gets put on the right product.
Industry 4.0 is the answer to both of those ideals. Industry 4.0 is an umbrella term for a whole bunch of technological advances that are transforming the way we manufacture. It’s not really much of a revolution, more an evolution of existing automated systems (like assembly line robots or packaging equipment).
The picture of Industry 4.0 is one of intelligent, autonomous factory systems integrated with the internet, making complex decisions on the fly, fed by a never-ending stream of data. In the world of the smart factory, there are no mistakes. However, Industry 4.0 isn’t an all or nothing state. It should be customised to your business and guided by the impact it has on your bottom line. Products, technologies and new ways of doing things can be introduced bit by bit, eventually building up to a whole system optimised for maximum efficiency.
‘Being Industry 4.0’ should be thought of as a journey, rather than a single event.
At print data, our goal is to help you continue on your journey towards Industry 4.0 so that the fantasy of a perfect printer becomes a reality for you. Our new technologies turn your printers from dumb to intelligent and connect them as part of one intelligent factory operation.
The Domino Cloud platform collects a vast array of data on printer operation – from ink and makeup levels to wear and tear on components. This information is then sent up to Domino’s cloud databases. Our support team and engineers use the collated data to remotely diagnose faults and spot potential future issues. The data is available for customers too, accessible from any device connected to the internet.
Connecting coding and marking machines to the cloud means that keeping them working no longer requires an engineer to physically be at the machine. Instead, potential issues can be identified, and faults diagnosed in advance from a long way away. Reactive fixing has become proactive servicing.
Domino’s latest continuous inkjet printers automatically monitor ink and makeup levels, adjusting them depending on environmental conditions so that it’s optimised for the print head, whether it’s operating in a hot, humid factory or a cold, dry one. By building this intelligence into the printer you can be sure of high-quality codes, thus reducing the likelihood of products being recalled and unplanned downtime to clean and adjust printers.
Another common cause of unplanned downtime is a human coding error. To solve this Domino’s QuickDesign software integrates printers with business systems such as MES and ERP so that they can receive coding messages, data and instructions automatically during production runs without the need for human intervention.
The technologies above are the beginning of printDATA’s journey to shape Industry 4.0. A journey to make coding errors and unplanned downtime caused by coding and marking machines is a thing of the past.
Invite us to take that journey with you.