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AIDC Technology

AIDC Consumable Items

The cost of consumables in AIDC system can be significant. In fact, No matter which automatic identification and data collection technology you adopt, you will spend more on consumables than you did on the purchase of the AIDC equipment itself. Therefore, total cost of ownership (TCO) concept of IT acquisition suggests that we should be careful in selecting the consumable and its supplier.

Media requirements for card printing, barcode, and other applications can be complex. Even RFID systems require that you purchase transponders, possibly in large quantities for applications such as source tagging. You may need to purchase - ribbons, toner cartridges, ink supplies, overlays, holographic film, pouches, print heads, cleaning supplies, paper tickets, or plastic cards that carry magnetic material or a chip for encoding.

For example, today’s capable and low-cost ID card printers create full-color, photo-realistic plastic IDs in a few minutes. Two card materials dominate the market: Poly Vinyl Chloride (PVC) and polyester. The current trend is toward polyester as it is more durable, temperature stable, and environmentally friendly. Composite PVC/polyester cards offer a middle-of-the-road solution, providing some of polyester’s flexibility and stability at a lower cost. Previously, most cards needed a clear overlay to protect the print. With direct imaging cards, new polyesters absorb inks from direct card printers and do not require an overlay for durability.

Your OEM or VAR can help you match your consumable media to your AIDC equipment and your application, recommend quantities to purchase, and establish a reorder schedule. Consider this as a basic criterion for vendor selection. Your equipment supplier can provide you with an approved list of media suppliers along with equipment maintenance recommendations.

Issues with Consumable Supplies
A fundamental barcode decision is whether you should buy barcode labels or print them in-house. Do you need small batches of labels with variable data? Do you have multiple customers with different label demands or are you being asked to encode variable data such as sell-by date, weight, or pallet contents? If so, you may have to print your own barcodes. To do so will require consumables: labels, ribbons, and print heads, ink for ink jet printing, toner for laser printing, etc.

Outsourced labels are usually produced in large quantities from static or sequential data. Durable serial number labels, specialty hang tags, self-adhesive labels for retail, and labels for extremely hostile environments are examples of labels that traditionally have been produced out-of-house.

Advances in on-site printing capabilities have reduced the overlaminate advantage of preprinted labels. Barcodes on newer materials, particularly those for use in direct thermal and thermal transfer printers, can survive in tough environments without an overlaminate. Synthetic materials such as vinyl, polyester, and polyolefin protect the barcode image against abrasion, moisture, oil, chemicals, and heat.

Some companies have found that their needs are best met by producing some labels in-house and purchasing others from outside vendors. Whichever method you choose, develop a detailed specification for your barcode labels, taking applicable industry standards, including those from UL or OSHA into account. Include art requirements, quantity, application and surface temperatures, expected life, type of surface to which the label is being applied, including texture, and, if it will encounter abrasion, indoor or outdoor use, chemicals, or dirt. Discuss your application with knowledgeable vendors and test samples of your media on the object to be labeled.

Whether you buy labels from an outside vendor or print them on-site, do not overlook barcode print quality checks. Responsible vendors will guarantee print quality, but it is a good idea to have your customers confirm early in the process that your labels are acceptable. Do conduct spot checks for preprinted label quality. On-site labeling requires dedicated quality control procedures employing a barcode verifier.

Selection of compatible print technology and media (ribbon and label stock for thermal printing, for instance) is crucial for application success. Never change ribbon or label stock without proper testing and be aware of the rated print speeds for your ribbon and media combination.

Label converters are also an excellent source for media supplies. Check to see how long a potential supplier has been in the thermal imaging supplies business and if it participates in AIDC industry or thermal imaging trade shows or educational programs. In the chemical-intense area of consumables, informed suppliers can best educate you regarding the ability to recycle materials and waste, and suggest innovative approaches and solid new products to address your concerns in these areas.

Finally, whether you are printing on plastic cards, making barcode labels, or reading a magnetic stripe, consider an investment in OEM-recommended cleaning supplies. Printheads will last longer, and users will appreciate that your magnetic stripe readers maintain high first-pass read rates.

Regardless of the AIDC technology you employ, a wise choice regarding consumables is the front-end decision that will keep your application running economically and smoothly into the new century.

Developments in the consumables arena focus on durability and environmental issues. In an effort to support the global recycling movement, AIDC manufacturers continue to explore ways to produce less waste and efficiently recycle the waste materials that are produced. Additionally, users continue to demand more from their systems and durable labels, tickets, cards, and tags are key pieces of those systems.

Acknowledgement: Some of the information on AIDC pages is based on the information in AIMGlobal's website. We would like to thank AIMGlobal for this.

More Information on AIDC

Back to Main Page  |  Market Size | Bar Code | RFID | Card Bar Code | MICR | OCR | OMR
EAS | Biometrics | Contact Memory | Machine Vision | RTLS | Consumables
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