A date coder plays a mission critical role in print production operations. Selecting a quality piece of proven equipment can make the difference between an efficient, high-performance operation that can sustain and build a business – and its image – versus one that undermines an entity’s success through an inability to meet marketplace demand, deliver consistent quality, and otherwise fulfill expectations both in-house and with customers. While many date coder features may appear basic, even just a few can make all the difference in securing a unit that can produce efficient and quality print output. Consider these three top features:
- Print Information: Features must include a way to ensure that print information can be applied in different locations on appropriate materials with proper data variables. The information has to be printed in a clear and precise manner with sharp and crisp resolution so that no date coding information is misinterpreted when scanned or read. For example, a quality machine should offer flexible code options like the ability to add barcodes, graphics, and numerous lines of text in order to meet growing complex coding requirements set by the government or new industry standard.
- Ease of Operational Use: Offering features that make a date coder simple to use, despite it being highly sophisticated machinery, means that the person operating it can easily do their job while the unit’s full automation does all of the “heavy lifting.” This takes the human quotient out of the equation as much as possible, which will result in fewer errors on the production line. A quality machine, for example, might have a color display screen that is easy to read. It may also have a simple keyboard and menu where the operator is not perplexed by too many choices and decisions in order to switch production or make changes to the line.
- Maintenance and Performance Features: Date coders often need to be cleaned and maintained, but usually fewer moving parts means there will be fewer failures. With enclosed components, the need for cleaning is also reduced. Overall, this means less down time and more production time. In terms of performance features, the ability to offer flexible integration and communication enables a way to more effectively oversee date coding management for greater efficiency and productivity.
In considering some of the features that define a quality date coder, the following criteria should be used:
- Print production information features must offer a way to add multiple print lines, bar codes, and graphics in various locations in a clear and easy-to-read format for cartons and materials of different sizes and shapes.
- The machine must be easy to use despite being leading-edge technology by offering simple menu formats, a streamlined keyboard, and a large, colorful display screen to help the operator do their part. A machine’s full automation function ensures that human error doesn’t diminish full production.
- Maintenance must be minimal with as many closed components and few moving parts as possible to make sure the machine goes the distance. Simple cleaning options and other such low maintenance features will ensure the unit functions as a company workhorse to keep production and productivity moving.