Five Ways to Avoid Printer Downtime

Downtime of any kind can cause massive headaches in manufacturing and logistics environments — especially when it involves a mission-critical operation such as label printing. Here are some guidelines for finding the right printers, the right supplies, and the right processes to maximize your labeling efficiency.

Zebra Technologies
Zebra Technologies
5Five Ways to Avoid Printer Downtime 2Antibus | Five Ways to Avoid Printer Downtime Downtime of any kind can cause massive headaches in manufacturing and logistics environments — especially when it involves a mission-critical operation such as label printing. From items on the production line to customer orders being shipped from the warehouse, nothing moves without labels. The wide-reaching effects of label printer downtime includes lost production time, decreased efficiency, increased warehouse waste, excessive labor costs, and decreased profit margins. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to avoid printer downtime and the costs associated with subpar label production. Here are some guidelines for finding the right printers, the right supplies, and the right processes to maximize your labeling efficiency. 1 Use a Purpose-Build Industrial Label Printer Getting the results and the uptime you need requires using the right tools for the job. Whether you are reevaluating your current printers or assessing potential upgrades or new purchases, here are some factors to consider: • Does your operation require thermal transfer or direct thermal printing, or do you need the flexibility to do both? Thermal transfer printers require an ink ribbon but produce more durable labels, best suited for longer shelf life. Direct transfer printers offer speed, high resolution, and economy, but the labels they produce aren’t meant to last. Evaluate which printers are the best choice for different areas of your operation and find an efficient, cost–effective solution to meet your needs. 3Antibus | Five Ways to Avoid Printer Downtime • Can the printer handle the print volume you need? Print speeds can vary among printer models, so make sure the one you choose can keep up with the pace of production. • Does the printer provide batch or on-demand printing? Depending on the application, you should decide between a printer designed for batch printing, such as printing cards or shelf labels, versus a printer designed for on-demand or continuous printing, such as product labels. Matching the right printer to the job will be the most efficient, cost- effective solution. • Can you print the types and sizes of labels you need at the desired resolution? Consider not only the media types and sizes, but also the fonts, graphics, barcode symbologies, and RFID capabilities you’ll need for your application. • Is the printer designed for a manufacturing or warehouse environment? Can it stand up to harsh conditions such as extreme temperatures, and resist dust, debris, and moisture? Is it rugged enough to be impact resistant? Look for reliable steel construction and consider the mean cycles between failure (MCBF) rate and the life expectancy of the printheads. The more you know about the demands you’ll be placing on your printer, the better able you’ll be to select one that can handle the job with fewer breakdowns and less downtime. 4Antibus | Five Ways to Avoid Printer Downtime 2 Choose Quality Supplies Regardless of a printer’s ruggedness and reliability, the labels you produce will only be as good as the supplies you use. There are different types of label media and inks designed for different applications that ensure consistently high-quality labels that stand up to environmental factors and meet industry specifications. Consider whether labels will be exposed to direct sunlight, extreme temperatures, moisture, chemicals, dust or dirt. Also consider unique conditions such as volume of preprinted labels and challenges from item size, surface adhesion problems, gloss or label type that can prohibit long-range scanning, safety and security regulation requirements. Cheap supplies are never a bargain. Using supplies that are not designed for the printer, the product, or the environment can result in poor quality labels that are easily damaged. Illegible labels can also lead to problems with your customers, lost business, lost product, compliance violations, and even fines for inaccurate or unreadable labels. Furthermore, inferior labels can cause downtime. Having to reprint labels costs valuable time as well as money, and this extra use can mean the need for more frequent printer maintenance. Inexpensive, poor- quality media can also shorten the life of printheads. Avoid these extra costs and downtime by choosing quality supplies. 5Antibus | Five Ways to Avoid Printer Downtime 3 Conduct Proactive Printer Maintenance Just as regular tune-ups by a skilled mechanic keep your vehicles on the road, proactive maintenance can keep technology solutions, including printers, running smoothly and reliably. Regular attention can increase your printer’s efficiency, reduce the effects of natural wear and tear, and maximize its lifetime. Being proactive about maintenance can also reduce downtime. A skilled technician can spot potential problems and resolve them before a printer fails and is out of service. When printers are regularly maintained, you can enjoy peace of mind knowing that your equipment is in good working order. Check the manufacturer’s recommendations for how often your printers should be cleaned and inspected. Choosing a licensed technician to service printers on a regular basis is the best strategy. Delicate areas of the machine such as the printheads are best handled by skilled technicians with training and experience. Taking care of maintenance in house, even if your staff has the expertise, can be a drain on resources and productivity, and it would also require you to keep additional supplies and an array of spare parts and tools on hand. Although there is a cost involved, professional servicing can actually reduce the total cost of ownership (TCO) of your printer while maximizing uptime. 6Antibus | Five Ways to Avoid Printer Downtime 4 Standardize Solutions Your entire enterprise can benefit from standardizing solutions across the board: Labels Standardizing labels helps creates brand consistency, which customers expect and appreciate. To keep labels uniform and the look and feel of your brand consistent — particularly if you have multiple facilities — use the same labels throughout your organization. Standardizing labels can also reduce the chance of labeling errors; when print media and supplies are standardized throughout your business there is less chance an employee will print labels using media meant for a different part of the operation. Printers When all of your printers come from the same vendor, the burden on your IT staff is reduced. Maintenance and integration become much easier when you’re not dealing with multiple manufacturers and systems. Moreover, when problems arise, your IT team can turn to one vendor to help resolve the issue. Standardizing printing solutions also makes it easier for employees to train and to do their jobs more easily. Centralized Label Management Managing all label templates and production from a single location will result in much greater consistency than having individual departments, facilities, or partners use their own solutions. Data accuracy and compliance are ensured, and when label requirements change, it’s easy to update and distribute correct versions corporate-wide. Centralized management can greatly improve efficiency and reduce costs. All of the consistency and accuracy gained from standardized labeling solutions can eliminate the downtime and waste caused by having to reprint wrong labels, reapply, and reshelve mislabeled product, as well as time spent on complicated printer repair or maintenance issues. 7Antibus | Five Ways to Avoid Printer Downtime 5 Work with a Total Solutions Provider Look for a provider that can offer “one-stop shopping” to handle all of your label printing needs from A to Z: Hardware A full range of printers, including those with features such as flexible connectivity options, comprehensive monitoring capabilities, built-in thermal management, QR-code links to technical support videos, and RFID encoding abilities. Software Inventory, supply chain, asset tracking, label design, and other applications. Supplies Recommended inks, labels, and other consumables. Services Hardware installation and maintenance. Your total solutions provider can address all of your technology needs beyond labeling, such as data collection to help you find new efficiencies with barcode scanners or 2D imagers, ergonomically designed to decrease worker fatigue and increase accuracy and efficiency, or industrial scales — including floor scales, crane scales, and counting scales — that integrate smoothly with your other systems, including print. Your total solutions provider can address all of your technology needs beyond labeling, such as data collection to help you find new efficiencies with barcode scanners or 2D imagers, ergonomically designed to decrease worker fatigue and increase accuracy and efficiency, or industrial scales — including floor scales, crane scales, and counting scales — that integrate smoothly with your other systems, including print. Don’t Live with Downtime Printer downtime can be costly, but there are ways to reduce it significantly. Quality printers and supplies create reliably readable, compliant labels, and proactive maintenance by qualified professionals will reduce breakdowns. Standardized label management enhances brand consistency and ensures that you’ll print the right label the first time. And choosing a total solutions provider will unify your systems and streamline support. Revenues are higher when your operations run efficiently and reliably, and label printing is an essential part of that process. Decrease the waste of inaccurate or poorly printed labels, increase efficiency, and boost profits by investing in the proper label printer solutions and services. This will keep printers running, increase their lifespan, improve their return on investment, and have a positive effect overall on your manufacturing, warehouse, or transportation and logistics operations. About Antibus Scales and Barcode Systems Since its inception in 1938, Antibus Scales and Barcode Systems has been a distributor for Mettler Toledo, the leader in the weighing equipment industry with sales and service capabilities. The company has offices in Fort Wayne (Headquarters), South Bend and Toledo, Ohio with over 50 employees serving the region. The company diversified beyond its traditional industrial weighing offering in 1988 forming the Barcoding Systems Group to market customized software and hardware for barcode solutions and related applications. Antibus Scales & Barcode Systems serves customers in Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio offering a full line of barcoding equipment, including barcode printers, mobile PC’s, barcode scanners, labels and ribbons. Services include factory authorized printer repair and a software engineer to assist with programming and configuration of barcode equipment. Antibus Scales and Barcode Systems is a value added reseller offering turnkey solutions to streamline your business. Contact Antibus at 1-800-589-2211 or systemsales@antibus.com. About Zebra Technologies With the unparalleled visibility Zebra provides, enterprises become as smart and connected as the world we live in. Real-time information – gleaned from visionary solutions including hardware, software and services – gives organizations the competitive edge they need to simplify operations, know more about their businesses and customers, and empower their mobile workers to succeed in today’s data-centric world. For more information, visit www.zebra.com.