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Tracking Product Manufacturing with Special Labeling

Manufacturing processes can be complex and have countless phases. In order to accurately and efficiently track a product, identification systems are necessary through many stages of production and assembly. Employing barcode labels is a key solution for tracking work in process on a manufacturing line.

In the manufacturing industry, labels need to withstand harsh environments and continue to be readable for the life of a product or part. Exposure to chemicals and extreme temperatures can cause ink smears or do damage to the surface of labels, leading to mistakes in part tracking. Furthermore, labels must also adhere to unusual surfaces and be applied within precise location specifications.

Harsh Environment Labels
Harsh environment labels would not be of value without an effective application system. Increasingly, label and applicator suppliers are partnering to produce custom tracking systems, thereby increasing productivity for customers.

Computype Inc., a product labeling and identification company, continually partners with customizable applicator companies to bring product identification systems to manufacturing customers. When selecting a supplier partner, Computype considers three important factors — similar business models, complementary products, and customer benefits.

Similar business models. When partnering, it is important for suppliers to have similar business models in order to effectively collaborate on a project and create value for customers. The suppliers both have to have a vested interest in the success of the other. The companies also have to have similar goals for the customer and compatible organizational operations.

Complementary products. It is ideal if the supplier product lines complement one another. Being able to sell products as a package is efficient and beneficial to the suppliers and customers. Each product should increase the value of the other product and increase the benefits for the customer, enhancing each company's competitive advantage.

Customer Benefits. The partnership has to be beneficial to the end-user. The suppliers should understand the others' products and share accountability for customer satisfaction.

Manufacturing customers often come to Computype with a need for a work-in-process tracking system that includes custom barcode labels, along with an accurate print and apply system. The value of the information in the labels would be lost without an accurate label application system. These relationships benefit Computype's business, the partner's business, and most importantly the end-user's business.

Supplier Partnerships
There are a number of instances where Computype has utilized supplier partnerships to create solutions for manufacturing clients.

Some of the most successful examples are cited here for electronic manufacturing, automotive subassembly manufacturing and medical device manufacturing.

Electronic Manufacturing. In an unusual manufacturing challenge, an electronics manufacturer needed identification and tracking of the circuit board components for cell phones. The labels had to be strong enough to endure the extremely high temperatures during the manufacturing process. The circuit boards were small and delicate, leaving little open space for labels and a small area of tolerance for application.

The solution: Computype partnered with print and apply supplier Nautilus to create a customized, identification solution. Computype provided pre-printed data matrix 2-D barcode identification labels compatible with the maximum operating temperature and the automatic application required for the Nautilus applicator. Nautilus provided a customized application system that was able to successfully pick and place the small die-cut labels on a tiny area within tolerance of the circuit boards. The customer benefited from Nautilus' walkaway automation system and the reliability of the harsh environment labels.

Automotive Subassembly. A very special manufacturing challenge: a customer in the automotive industry was in need of component labeling to help streamline its subassembly manufacturing process and increase productivity. The labels were required to adhere to multiple components and be able to withstand many different environments throughout the several stages of subassembly. The applicator had to effectively place labels to the various surfaces of the components.

Computype and Nautilus partnered to deliver a value-added, customized tracking and identification system to the customer. Computype delivered precision die cut labels with a strong adhesive compatible with the Nautilus pick-and-place system. The customer benefited from the time savings and versatility of the two products. The parts were tracked from the injection molding stage to a plant for precision assembly and back to the original equipment manufacturer for full assembly.

SpecialMedical Device Needs
Medical Device Manufacturing. An unusual manufacturing challenge: A medical device manufacturer came to Computype in need of a labeling system to track devices from point of manufacture to the use at hospitals including medical records, billing, etc. The device manufacturer must comply with many industry specifications, including product materials and sterilization requirements. The compliant label material was something Computype had never worked with before. The company also needed a print and apply system versatile enough for a tight placement tolerance. The print and apply system also had to be compatible with the company's current design and printing software platform.

Computype partnered with CAB to create a customized solution that reduced errors and increased efficiency, creating custom engineered labels with the company's specified material and converted it into a deadened double adhesive with pull off tags for removal after application to the package. The label was custom die-cut with a custom finish that allowed consistent dispensing from the CAB applicator. CAB supplied a printer/applicator compatible with the customer's printing software and Computype's custom labels. The print and apply system uses a digital communication device for automation of electromechanical manufacturing processes.

In each case, a customer presented a unique challenge and walked away with increased productivity, time savings, reliability and efficiency — all of which could not have been possible without supplier partnerships.

Contact: Computype, 2285 West County Road C, St. Paul, MN 55113 800-328-0852 E-mail: Web: 

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