Each month we feature an informative article on the technical side of our print and apply and pre-printed labeling automation solutions. This month’s Tech Topic, covered by Todd Sorden, Service Technician at Panther Industries, communicates the importance of proper site preparation to ensure an efficient and successful installation of your Panther Industries labeling automation system(s).
Years at Panther Industries: 4
Hometown: Broomfield, CO
Favorite Movie: Happy Gilmore
First and foremost, why is proper site preparation important for installation of Panther Industries labeling automation systems?
More often than not, our systems are a component of larger automation processes being implemented within a new facility, or one that is undergoing a major transformation to be more efficient and provide greater throughput for the end user. There is a significant investment by the end user that is associated with the project, with expectations they are ready and operational at a predetermined date. Essentially, we’re assisting our partners and end users in the overall completion of the project, so our labeling automation systems need to be set up and supporting the larger operation as efficiently and quickly as possible.
There are several key areas where our integrator partners – in conjunction with the end user – can assist us to ensure the site is ready for installation and testing of our systems so our time on site is utilized effectively.
What advance information do we provide to integrators and/or end users to help prepare for our arrival?
When we are in the process of scheduling our technicians to be onsite and perform the installation of our systems, we will send them a checklist that clarifies several pieces of information we’ll need to prepare for our arrival. This checklist includes general subjects such as utilities, data, and label stock for testing, as well as any PPE/safety equipment requirements.
We also strongly recommend that our customers share this article with anyone involved in the site preparation for our visit so the process goes as smoothly and efficiently as possible.
So, what are the key areas you mentioned that an integrator or end user should address to prepare for our arrival and installation?
System Location and Utilities
This is probably the most important preparation component to ensure a smooth installation. The actual location of our labeling system(s) should be clearly determined and identified, with all power, compressed air (if required), and data drops in place and working. If any of these components are missing, incomplete, or unavailable prior to set up and installation of our systems, it can cause unnecessary delays.
Specific to the data drops, there are two types we interact with:
- Printer data drops, which communicate to the customer’s ERP/WMS system, is the actual data printed on the label.
- Host Interfacing data drops, which communicate with the I/O of our system.
If Host Interfacing data drops are required, it is important to have some of the backend coding completed in advance of our arrival. This way, if a trigger signal is needed, there is an understanding how our external/ethernet I/O works and communicates with the host, saving valuable time during the installation.
Actual Label Stock for Testing
The actual label stock being used in the live environment should be available for testing the system after it has been set up. While we always perform testing on the actual label stock provided to us prior to shipment (or comparable stock, if directed by the customer), the actual operating environment can have an impact on the labels being used (e.g, due to humidity, heat, particulates, etc.).
Once the system is installed, testing with the actual label stock simulates the real operating environment. Using a different label stock for testing can present a variety of problems due to differing thickness, types of adhesive, or even imprint quality/density on the label. While we can adjust the labeling system to account for different label stock, setting it up to mirror the live environment is paramount and avoids potential issues and future downtime.
Simulation of Live Product Environment
It is critical all components upstream and downstream of our labeling automation systems are functioning as they would on Day One, so we can test and verify how the labeling operation is designed to function once operations are live. This includes readiness of any conveyors, scanners, or components that will impact how an item is to be labeled. Equally important is having the range of products available to test – both in terms of differing heights and weights of all items to be labeled – to make sure we are supporting all variables for live operations.
Label Format Design
Related to providing a simulation of a live environment, having the actual label format available for testing allows us to set print engine parameters for imprint on the actual label stock. For example, we will test and verify imprint position, darkness/density, and/or backfeed, so everything is set up correctly for the live environment.
This is especially important in today’s landscape. Aside from any regular safety equipment our technicians are required to bring (e.g., hard hat, high visibility vest/clothing, eye protection, etc.), any additional PPE requirements such as face masks, shields, or the like, should be clearly communicated in advance.
Dedicated Facility Contact + Access Documentation
It is essential that a designated facility contact will be onsite while our technician is visiting. This ensures our technicians have a dedicated resource at the facility to seek out clarification on any questions or issues that may arise. Additionally, if there is any specific authorization documentation that needs to be completed for facility access by our technicians, providing that in advance of our visit helps streamline the setup and installation process.
Identification of Employees for Training
Panther Industries offers separate training sessions for both operator and maintenance employees after installation of our labeling systems. Our technician will review key aspects of the system, basic troubleshooting, and preventative maintenance tips to ensure maximum uptime.
Prior to our arrival, we recommend allocating resources to cover shifts so these key employees can be identified and scheduled for their sessions.
How would you summarize the importance of the information presented above?
Following the above site preparation practices will ensure the most efficient setup and installation process of our systems, which ultimately benefits the integrator’s and/or end user’s project schedule.
For any service or support-related issues related to your Panther Industries print and apply or pre-printed labeling automation systems, please contact us at email@example.com or toll-free at 800-530-6018, x120. To order parts, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or toll-free at 800-530-6018, x175