Coders In Demand
By JOANNA COSGROVE
New coding equipment offers effective solutions
for beverage marking
Coders may not rank as the
flashiest electronic gadgetry on a beverage production line, but the role
they fill is most critical. In the event of a recall, or simply when a
consumer is curious about product freshness, the information printed onto a
beverage package can prove to be an indispensable measure from both a sales
and safety standpoint.
Such was the case for Downingtown, Pa.-based
microbrewer, Victory Brewing Co. Throughout the course of the year, the
company creates and markets about 26 different varieties of beer. While
production is driven by draft, local market demand and an on-premise
restaurant that serves its beer created a need for the company’s
12-ounce glass bottled beers, which are available for its four flagship
brands, plus six seasonal beers, and make up the majority of the
According to Victory Brewing’s Brewmaster and
President Bill Covaleski, the coding of individual bottles is crucial to
his company’s freshness philosophy. “From a marketing and
distribution standpoint, it’s important that a fresh, unpasteurized
product be tracked through that chain to the consumer,” he says.
“The dating on the bottle is critical information because when all
other packaging is stripped away – case, carton, carrier – the
bottle label is all you’re left with and the end-user and consumer
should be able to know about the freshness and viability of the
Victory Brewing employs a Videojet 3410 laser coder to
imprint each bottle with a standard “Enjoy By” date and
six-digit date. The coding unit helps the company achieve an average
production speed of 265 bottles per minute, which Covaleski admits is a
much lower speed and capacity rate than the coder is capable of running.
“We went with this model because we are anticipating a longer usage
life out of it,” he says. “The application we’re using it
for really is not necessary — there are many craft brewers out there
with products similar to ours that are unpasteurized that aren’t
getting involved in coding and dating in any way. We feel it’s
important because consumers will make purchasing decisions based on it.
From a producer’s standpoint, we’re buying peace of mind as
well as additional protection for our consumers who want the freshest
Beverage coding is not an easy proposition given the
wet, warm environment in which beverages are produced. But many companies
are fine-tuning their coder offerings to suit beverage manufacturing
The PXR-H Series high-speed small-character inkjet
printer from Hitachi America Ltd., Industrial Systems Division, based in
Tarrytown, N.Y., boasts a printing speed of 1,300 feet per minute for
one-line inkjet printing — the highest in its class. While
dramatically increasing the speed, it maintains or even enhances the print
quality by improving print-head and ink-drop charge/deflection control.
The unit’s innovative ink circulation system
helps reduce fluid evaporation, helping achieve a low cost of operation.
Its nozzle and gutter are automatically cleaned before shut down; hence no
special procedures are required at start up. The PXR Series small-character
inkjet printer viscosity and density control provides stable ink drop
formation and keeps print quality high. An IP55 rated stainless steel
enclosure provides full protection against dust and water.
The 7000 Series of scribing CO2 laser coders from New
York-based Imaje features a next-generation galvohead technology with the
latest CO2 laser source that yields up to 1,000 characters per second with
no need for plant air or water to cool the laser head, allowing the unit to
code consistently in temperatures up to 95°F (35°C).
Its modular design consists of three separate
components — controller, cable and laser head — allowing for
easy integration into existing product lines. The compact laser head offers
a zero-degree and 90-degree laser beam orientation and ultra flexible
The 7000 Series’ intuitive “iTouch”
user interface offers simple parameter selection, message creation and
editing, and the unit features an IP rating suitable for industrial
environments thanks to the inclusion of a stainless steel cabinet for the
controller and aluminum body with FDA-approved coating for the head.