How important is OEE to your customers in relation to coding and marking equipment?
Randon: OEE is a concern to all customers, not just blue chip companies, because the economic environment is driving the desire for cost saving.
Many coding equipment vendors (like Linx) are taking the opportunity to use OEE to re-enforce the benefits of their products. The difference is in how accurately and scientifically it is measured.
Companies with multiple production lines need a consistent method of measuring OEE, and the higher the potential benefit, the more likely they are to justify automated measurement of OEE.
These customers want OEE for all equipment though, not just coding and marking equipment measures. This is why some customers still use manual reporting, as not all equipment can work with a single automated measurement system.
Smaller customers often don't have an automated method of measuring OEE, but will have a good knowledge of which equipment causes downtime, how frequently and for how long.
How do you measure the OEE of coding and marking equipment?
Randon: This will depend on individual customers. A typical measure is % of time the coder is actually coding divided by the total time that the customer wants the coder to be coding. However, this can exclude scheduled maintenance activities, even though they reduce the amount of time available for coding.
Linx continuous ink jet (CIJ) printers are designed to maximise OEE and minimise scheduled maintenance time too.
Have you made any improvements that enable your coding machines to better deliver against OEE objectives?
Randon: The Linx 7900 CIJ has longer service intervals and only the filtration and ink need to be changed. Other components are designed to be fit for life. This makes scheduled maintenance quicker, and less costly. The Linx CJ400 CIJ printer can be serviced by the customer without turning the printer off. This shortens scheduled maintenance times, as well as reducing costs.
And Linx CIJ printheads are designed to give longest intervals between manual cleaning, resulting in more uptime. Our large character case coders, the Linx IJ355 and IJ375, are also designed to contribute to OEE.
Specifically, the digital inkjet capability allows us to print high resolution graphics, text and data directly onto the sides of boxes or cases. This removes the need for labels and the label applicator, so no more storing different label stock, loading labels and printing ribbons into the label printer, and no tricky label dispenser setting up or disposal of backing paper.
The Linx large character case coders allow users to continue printing while they change the ink canister.
Charles Randon has worked within the packaging industry for 12 years. As senior product manager at Linx Printing Technologies, he is responsible for developing the company’s ink jet printers, which provide non-contact printing of information such as use by dates, lot numbers and other traceability data onto products as they move on the production line.
The Linx CJ400, won the ‘Most Innovative Processing or Packaging Machine’ category at PPMA (Processing & Packaging Machinery Association) Industry Awards in 2012. Randon played a role in understanding customer needs, and creating a printer which helps producers to reduce waste in lean manufacturing environments.