You invested in barcode label printers to increase accuracy and improve productivity, so you want to do everything in your power to ensure they are operating at peak performance as much of the time as possible. But just like any other piece of operating equipment like forklifts or production machinery, your barcode label printers need maintenance in order to ensure proper performance. Here are a few things to consider regarding care and maintenance of label printers.

Follow the Manufacturer’s Recommendations

The manufacturer of your printer recommends settings for darkness and pressure settings, along with print volume and operating conditions. Your reseller will help you select a printer that works with your requirements and your environment, to ensure that volume and operating conditions are ideal for the device.

Be sure not to exceed the print head pressure and speed settings, because that will shorten the life of your printer. Sometimes people adjust these settings to compensate for inferior quality label stock, but this is not a good idea either, because you will place additional stress on the printhead which can lead to other, more complex problems down the road.

When lower-quality labels are used, it can result in blurry or streaked labels that are hard to read. To compensate for this, users will increase darkness and pressure settings on the printer which slows down the operation, causes excessive wear on the printhead and may be cause for more frequent replacement of the label printer printhead or the printer itself, resulting in more downtime.

Use Quality Label Stock

Speaking of label stock, users frequently assume all label stock is the same, but in reality, it is not. There are hundreds of different variations in the marketplace, but your solution provider can help you make the right choice based on:

  • The items you are labeling
  • The material from which these items are made
  • The environment (indoor, outdoor, excessive heat or cold, etc.)
  • The life of the product being labeled (how long does it need to be labeled)

These factors impact the overall performance and life of the label you choose. The decision on which type of label material you need to use, and the quality of the manufacturing process for these labels are very important considerations.

It’s always best to buy your label stock from the manufacturer or to use their recommended brands if you want good quality, long-lasting labels. Using inferior quality labels because they are less expensive will ultimately cost you more in printer repairs and re-labeling efforts. Even more important, using inferior labels can lead to process or order errors, unhappy customers, non-compliance fees, and more.

Keep the Printhead Clean

The printhead picks up dust and residue from labels as well as the operating environment. You should follow the manufacturer’s recommendations about cleaning frequency. If you’re in a very dirty environment, you might even want to clean your printhead more often. And be careful not to use sharp objects to remove ribbons or rollers or labels from the printer, since you can easily damage the printhead.

Use Certified OEM Parts for Spares

All machinery requires replacement parts occasionally, and your Barcode Label Printers are no exception. The printhead will need periodic replacement, and it is critical that you use only printheads certified by the manufacturer. Uncertified parts may cause mechanical problems down the road, which can shorten the lifespan of your printer. You will minimize downtime and improve productivity by using a certified printhead, which will give you better performance and clearer, more readable labels.

Add a Maintenance or Support Plan

Many manufacturers and certified solution providers offer maintenance and support plans at a reasonable cost. These plans usually cover replacing printheads at recommended intervals, and you can be sure you are getting certified parts. These plans often pay for themselves in increased productivity and reduced downtime in a short period of time.

Looking for advice on the best maintenance plan for your Barcode Label Printers? Contact us today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation, and we’ll provide you with recommendations that include time-saving solutions to boost productivity and increase profitability.

Avalon Field Service Circle Image

I read an article recently in Forbes that said, “Data is the new electricity”. That really struck a chord because, in today’s world, it’s ALL about the data. Without data, we have no direction, no plan, no measurement of our success. We need the data, and today’s hardware and software help us get it. The Internet of Things (IoT) helps us make better, more informed decisions.

With access to data sets and the advanced capabilities of today’s devices, we can really differentiate ourselves from the competition when we put these resources to work. When it comes to connected devices, we think about our laptop or smartphone. But think about this: If we lose connectivity, we can still perform (albeit on a limited basis), but what about those critically connected devices that are helping save lives and keeping workers safe? It could literally be a matter of life or death if they lose connectivity.

Security of our Data
That’s where security comes in. By 2020, there could be as many as 50 billion connected devices on the internet, so security is going to be a huge priority in order for IoT to continue to be successful. The ways in which we generate data will also be a critical factor because in order to keep workers productive, more efficient, and safe we need to be able to access the right information from our connected devices.

Manufacturers like Honeywell, for example, are providing the market with tools that can maximize our capabilities, improve worker performance, and make reporting and analysis less cumbersome to manage.

The enterprise is facing increased competitive pressures every day. Warehouse, DC’s and manufacturing facilities are fighting to become more efficient and more accurate with the ability to increase capacity without increasing costs. Organizations are also looking for innovative ways to protect their supply chains from changes that will force them to re-develop software, update applications, and possibly even modify existing processes. They need solutions that have the flexibility to grow and adapt as their business grows.

Leveraging our Devices
Device connectivity brings so much value to your business. With all this valuable information, you can more easily predict shifts in the market, prepare for change more adeptly, and make decisions that will help drive future business plans. For organizations that choose to go the connected route, they will truly be able to differentiate themselves from the competition; driving success from their ability to predict behaviors and integrate functions that were once independent of each other.

The newly-found fame of connected devices opens up a number of opportunities for companies to re-examine their existing business model, develop innovative products and services, and eliminate the barrier that exists between the customer and the supplier. Gathering data from these devices, and then circulating that data through the organization results in more intelligent business decisions that lead to more innovative solutions that exceed customer expectations.

Tracking Assets
On a more tactical level, IoT can provide loads of support when it comes to efficiency. Asset tracking, for example, can offer a lot of value over a short period of time if the solution offers real-time access to information from virtually any device.   Whether you’re in the equipment rental business, have a field service workforce, or even remote-office workers, the advantage of being completely connected means you have more control of your assets and the value of those assets as well. Consider maintenance schedules, for example. Having service information about each device at your fingertips can save hundreds of labor hours tracking down devices, looking up paperwork on the history of the device, and so on. Connectivity, in this case, offers extreme value in terms of labor hours and unnecessary expenses (replacing lost devices, etc.).

Want to learn more about the advantages of IoT for your business? Contact us today.

Today, companies need every advantage they can find to stay competitive. Rising customer expectations force companies to look for innovative ways to improve productivity, especially when dealing with a mobile workforce with dedicated workers. Here are some ways that mobile devices are helping companies like yours stay ahead.

Real-time Visibility

Whether in a bricks and mortar retail shop or order from an online site, customers prefer to know that the item they seek is in stock. In the retail store, equipping floor personnel with mobile devices allows them to check inventory at the warehouse or other locations to find out of stock items to satisfy the customer.

In e-tail, equipping workers with mobile computers and handheld barcode scanners allow them to process inventory transactions in real-time, so on-hand balances are always up to date. This keeps customer satisfaction levels high and expectations realistic.

Increased On-Time Delivery

Whether it’s a B2C or B2B transaction, late deliveries and extended lead times compromise customer satisfaction and cost your company money. When warehouse personnel has mobile computing devices, they can pick orders and process transactions faster and more accurately than with a manual process. Automating the process can literally cut hours out of the order cycle time, resulting in faster delivery and more on-time deliveries.

Improved Order Quality

Many companies use DIFOT (Delivery in Full and On-Time) as a key metric for their distribution and warehousing operations. Barcode automation helps reduce errors by eliminating situations where workers pick incorrect items or the wrong quantity. When they scan an item label, the device provides immediate feedback if it’s the wrong item. The use of hands-free mobile devices like a barcode ring scanner help improve accuracy as items are picked and packed because the scan happens during the operation, and workers have complete hands-free mobility.

Scanning can also speed up shipping palletized orders. Adding a pallet label that links to all the items and quantities on the pallet—a process known as license plating—enables workers to transact an entire pallet worth of goods with a single scan. Even without license plating, using handheld devices provides enough mobility for the worker to scan every item on the pallet quickly and accurately.

For forklift operators, being mobile means a big boost in productivity. If a worker has to continually stop and get off the vehicle in order to scan items on the rack, the process slows down dramatically. A forklift-mounted mobile computer can easily direct workers to the right warehouse locations for picking and then process the transaction using a long-range scanner.

When you speed up your picking and increase your picking accuracy by using scanning devices, your DIFOT and productivity will both improve.

One Visit Repairs and Service

Equipping field service personnel with mobile devices offers a variety of process improvements that lead to increased productivity:

  • Order accuracy improves when manual data entry is eliminated
  • Inventory accuracy improves when tracking becomes automated
  • Delivery times improve when GPS and other features help drivers find their next stop
  • Customer satisfaction improves when delivery of the product is correct and on-time

For field service workers, insight into the problem the customer has can allow the worker to ensure they have the right tools, part and skills to complete a repair during the visit. Mobile devices can also be used to display schematics or repair instructions, ensuring the repair is done correctly. Increasing the number of one-visit repairs and service calls will reduce the cost or service while increasing customer satisfaction.

For more warehouse process improvement ideas and recommendations for a strategy to mobilize work teams, visit our website or contact us today.

ROLL OUT A BETTER MOBILITY SOLUTION and Park the Power Where you need it.

ROI in 5 months

Get big results with an affordable investment:

  • Cut labor by as much as $10K per worker.
  • Increase receipts by up to 60%.
  • Decrease labeling errors.
  • Improve inventory accuracy.
  • Process goods directly at the pallet or on the dock.

Put the full power in your mobile workforce.

Avalon Integration delivers the total mobility solution that puts full power in your mobile workforce.

Newcastle Systems Ecocart Mobile Powered Workstation.

This lightweight cart provides heavy-duty reliability with up to 8 hours of battery power. Store all the hardware you need here, reducing unnecessary movement. This workstation adds on-demand computing and printing convenience wherever you need it.

ZEBRA ET50 ENTERPRISE TABLET.

Put more landscape into your rugged environment with your choice of an

.3-inch or 10.1-inch screen. The enterprise-class device gives you a higher evel of durability, security, application access, connectivity, and device management than a consumer-grade tablet.

ZEBRA ZT230 WIRELESS THERMAL PRINTER.

Produce barcode labels for everything from inbound and QA to picking and shipping, with crisp resolution, easy setup and use, and an all-metal casing to withstand heavy use. The compact footprint fits easily on the cart, with a bi-fold door and lighted path for effortless media reloading.

Why Avalon?

Your technology extends across your enterprise. You need a partner who understands the complexity. Avalon Integration has specialized in producing lasting results with total solutions for a broad range of businesses—from small businesses to Fortune 500, and municipalities to the Department of Defense. Count on our knowledge, problem-solving skills, partnerships, and commitment to unmatched service.

Avalon Integration. One source. Unlimited potential.

Contact us today for information and ideas to get you started.

 

‘Smart factories’ are destined to be a major part of the very near future after Zebra Technologies released the results of its 2017 Asia Pacific Manufacturing Vision Study.

The research set out to analyze the emerging trends that are shaping the future of industrial manufacturing in the APAC region.

According to Zebra, the number of manufacturers supporting a fully connected factory will nearly triple by 2022, which means almost half (46 percent) anticipate having the capability in five years’ time.

“Manufacturers are entering a new era where there are increasing expectations of faster and higher quality production along with highly competitive margins. This trend is especially relevant for the Asia Pacific – a region often regarded as the manufacturing hub of the world,” says Ryan Goh, Vice President and general manager at Zebra Technologies for the Asia Pacific.

“The Zebra APAC Manufacturing Vision Study shows that savvy manufacturers have started to invest in smart factory technologies to reap benefits such as enhanced productivity, increased visibility, and the ability to predict demands. As we move toward Industry 4.0, this trend will continue to expand and shape the industry in the coming years.”

The study asserts manufacturers will continue to adopt Industry 4.0 and the smart factory, with workers utilizing a ‘combination of radio frequency identification (RFID) technologies, automated systems and other emerging technologies to monitor the physical processes of the plant and enable companies to make decentralized decisions.’

In this aspect, APAC manufacturers will be at the forefront around the globe with 77 percent of respondents intending to collect data from production, supply chain, and workers in a holistic manner by 2020, compared to just 46 percent doing so today.

Achieving quality assurance is the top priority among executives in APAC, with forward-looking manufacturers embracing a quality-minded philosophy to drive growth, throughput, and profitability.

Improvements made by both suppliers and manufactures is expected to boost the quality of finished goods, with 55 percent of manufacturers seeing quality as a top concern today, but just 35 percent in 2022.

Technology use amongst manufacturers is expected to surge between now and 2022, specifically mobile technology (27 percent vs 72 percent), wearable technology (33 percent vs 65 percent), location tracking (38 percent vs 51 percent), and voice technology (45 percent vs 51 percent).

“Technology adoption provides potential to tease out out-of-date work practices, and improve productivity and visibility across the manufacturing plants,” says Tom Christodoulou, regional director for Australia / New Zealand at Zebra Technologies.

“Zebra’s new APAC Manufacturing Vision Study gives insights into the rapid changes that are driving the manufacturing industry, explores the future plans of tech-savvy manufacturers, and shares useful tips and guidance for local manufacturers who are unsure of how to go about taking up relevant and innovative technology.”

Contact us today for information and ideas to get you started.

Article Originally Published By Datalogic Product Bulletin for Impact Software

Overview for IMPACT Software

Datalogic is pleased to announce the release of IMPACT Software version 11.11 enabling advanced OCR on MX-E and MX-U vision processors.

As a cutting edge OCR vision tool, the advanced OCR ensures the most robust and reliable recognition of hard-to-read characters under difficult conditions such us non-uniform backgrounds,  variable light conditions and curved surfaces.

The advanced OCR is the best solution for reading ink-jet printed dot matrix strings on package labels and embossed characters, raised or lowered in the product surface, respectively in the Food and Beverage and Automotive industries.

The Advanced OCR tool is supported by MX-E and MX-U Vision Processors

Main IMPACT 11.11 features

  • Extremely intuitive settings
  • Automatic string segmentation and character typing mode for quick font training
  • OCV and OCR string verification modes for full application flexibility

Typical Applications are

  • OCR of ink-jet printed labels/packages
  • Dot matrix character reading on bottles and cans
  • DPM string reading on mechanical parts
  • Validation of laser marked strings in automotive

Contact us today for information.

In recent months, the United States and other islands in the Tropics have been devastated by the impacts of Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma, and Hurricane Maria. Photos and video of sobbing families, homes left in pieces and rain and wind pouring down onto already flooded parking lots have left many people feeling helpless and wondering how they can help rebuild these impacted communities. Individuals are being encouraged to donate to the American Red Cross, but here are some ways that businesses in tech are working together to help.

Honeywell

Honeywell announced on their website on September 5th that their Honeywell Hometown Solutions (HHS) branch donated over $2 million dollars in personal protective equipment to local first responders, police officers and firefighters. Honeywell’s efforts in aiding the emergency personnel in Texas is the company’s largest equipment donation to date. According to their press release, the supplies donated included safety clothing, protective footwear, rubber boots, safety gloves, disposable masks for respiratory protection, protective eyewear, hard hats and hearing protection.

Apple

Before addressing a crowd of employees, Apple CEO Tim Cook reflected on the company’s relief efforts in the wake of Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma. Apple has donated to date over $10 million dollars in support of the impacted communities. Cook stated in his speech, “Our hearts go out to all of the people whose lives have been disrupted by Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Harvey,” Cook said. “You’re in our thoughts, we send you our strength, you are in our prayers.”

 Google

Google launched a campaign, along with a company donation, where proceeds go directly to the American Red Cross. As a company, Google donated $250,000 and matched employee donations up to $250,000. Their fundraising page, Google Hurricane Harvey Response, matched donations up to 1 million dollars. The fundraiser is still accepting donations and has raised over two million dollars.

In the wake of a tragedy is when humanity shows good and people come together to help one another. The impacts brought on by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma have been paramount, but it is refreshing to see the various companies within the tech industry joining together to try and bring things back to normal.

Contact Us Today to Learn More!