The top 5 considerations when buying a date coder

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 7th December 2015

Options abound when it comes to choosing a date coder. So how do you make sure you have the right technology for your business’s needs now and well into the future?

While every firm’s needs are unique, there are some things that every company should consider when investing in a date coder; not doing so can cause issues for your business. And if it’s labelling equipment you’re after, these same basic points apply as well.Choosing a datecoder_  Matthews AFN Dec15


The first step is to clearly define your requirements. Working through these five points will guide you:

  1. What are you printing?

Are you printing a use-by date on the primary packaging? Or batch codes on secondary packaging? Take the time to clearly outline everything you need to print before you leap. Also, consider if there are multiple different message types, what they all are.

  1. What are you printing onto?

Paper, cardboard, wet glass, plastic, wood, cloth… every material has different properties, which ultimately affect the way a code will be printed. For instance, lasers are a popular choice for firms in a range of industries — beverage, pharmaceutical and snack foods to name but a few — because they offer a very fast way to print high quality, permanent codes on almost any substrate, such as glass, plastics (PET, polystyrene and polypropylene), metal and cardboard.

  1. What is your line speed?

Your production line’s speed will determine the capability you need from your date coder. For example, continuous inkjet printers (CIJs) have the advantage of being able to clearly mark on all packaging substrates at all production speeds. They are also very easily integrated on to a conveyor production line.

  1. What is your current factory environment?

Is your factory dusty? Wet? Cold? Some manufacturing environments can be challenging for technology. Choosing a date coder that’s built to withstand your unique environment will ensure you get longer use and greater reliability.

  1. What are your future plans?

There’s no sense in investing in a date coding solution that doesn’t meet your firm’s needs 12 months down the line. Think about your future plans: are you expecting to grow? Will you be printing on different substrates? Will you be introducing new SKUs or printing different messages? Each of these will impact your date coding needs.

Next steps

Armed with your answers to the above questions, give some thought to the costs:

  • What is the purchase cost?
  • But possibly more important to consider is: what are the running costs for your business?

These answers will help you determine the date coder that will provide the best ROI for you.

Also consider the current technology in your factory, and how easy it will be to integrate the date coder with minimum disruption to your production line.

Talk to your team and find out what they will be comfortable operating. They might need additional training, so find out what kind of support the equipment provider offers. It is critical to choose an equipment provider with local maintenance teams who have the skills and resources to install, service and fix the date coder should anything go wrong.

If you’re looking to invest in a new or upgraded date coder or labeller, speak to Matthews on 1300 CODING for expert advice.