The Future Of Package Barcode Printing

Source: Videojet Technologies Inc.

At Pack EXPO/Pharma EXPO 2014, Tim Kearns of  Videojet, a manufacturer of industrial inkjet printers & inks, laser marking systems and case coding solutions for product packaging identification, discusses the innovations of package printing and some ideal solutions for serialization.  With the new serialization regulations in the pharma industry, there are important considerations a company needs in order to implement a high resolution barcode printing solution. 

Interview Transcription:

Todd:   Alright good afternoon, Todd and Todd live from Chicago, Life Science Connect Radio‘s exclusive day 4 coverage from this grand event, pack expo, pharma expo, Todd when you and I first started doing conversations around life sciences, I never realised how important our next conversation and what that company’s about, how important that is to everything that’s going on here.

Todd:   Not only how important, but the innovations and the technologies that are getting applied to address an important issues.

Todd:   You would think it would be an innovative space, and yet I’ve learned everything, anybody touching any element in this industry is innovative, they’re making it better, smaller, cheaper, yes they are. Let’s get to it, say hello to our guest his name is Tim Kearns, a strategic account manager in life sciences for Video Jet Technology. Tim, welcome to the show.

Tim:     Thanks for having me.

Todd:   Pleasure’s ours Tim, thanks for carving out some valuable time in this final day of the show. Before we get into our important conversation, do take a few quick seconds and inform the audience a bit about you and your background.

Tim:     Well I’m the strategic account manager for life sciences in Video Jet, covering North America, basically calling on our big pharma customers and supporting our sales staff throughout the area on anything that relates to pharmaceutical, medical device, things like that.

Todd:   Alright, well give us that 10,000 foot view of Video Jet Technologies, what do you do, how do you serve your market?

Tim:     Video Jet is a global provider of marking coding technologies, basically anything from food and beverage to the pharmaceutical area of needing of lot expiration dates, identifying that product.

Todd:   Okay we started the show talking about innovations in printing and marking, tell us about that, and tell us a story about some of those new innovations and technologies.

Tim:     Well these days with the new regulations around the globe, the need for high resolution printing has really come to the forefront, especially barcoding, so there are a few technologies that are very important to this industry to get that high resolution barcode onto their products, for example in thermal ink jet as well as laser technologies have really come a long way these days with how to get the right code on the right product in that high resolution print.

Todd:   Is there a ‘best’ printing technology for pharmaceutical and medical packaging?

Tim:     Basically we would really want to look at it as an application specific technology, so no, there’s not one ‘best’ technology, but with a lot of these advances, like I mentioned the thermal ink jet, the new inks with solvent based inks able to print onto any substrate almost in that cartridge technology have really give us a wider range of materials that we can print on. So this is getting closer to that golden bullet, but really you want to be testing everything and making sure you’re looking at the right technology for you customer’s application.

Todd:   Tim let’s say I’m the guy responsible for the serialization project, what kind of considerations, what kind of things do I need to think about?

Tim:     Well I always want to make sure that there’s a lot of people that are involved, one within and organization, there’s the project teams, there’s going to be IT, making sure the customer knows that they’re going to need their project to be managed internally, but there’s also a lot of OEM partners that are going to have to work together.

            So getting people together earlier in the game, getting people to talk sooner in the applications is getting to be more and more critical instead of just thinking that they can add on a laser printer in the game, yes we know we need that, we’ll get it later.

            We’re doing a lot of these conversations, getting our partners together, meeting altogether and making sure that we have integration, service support that is talked about well in advance of these projects because we know the criticality of these implementations.

Todd:   How do you fit into a customer’s broader packaging strategy, or can you, I’m assuming you can?

Tim:     Absolutely, and one of the advantages of Video Jet where we fit in this broad scheme of things is that we have such a broad range of technologies from the laser and thermal ink jet to case coding, continuous ink jet that our cross platform of software and the user interfaces allow our customer to, doesn’t matter what technology, to have a similar look and feel to them. But besides on the technology side, what we have grown to is this network of support around the globe.

            We know we work with global companies and we know that they have specific regulations and needs in Brazil and India and China for example, and we make sure we have local support there, that the knowledge and the experts are local there, so it’s making sure we line up there very well with our customers and not just say shipping out equipment around the globe to these sites, but also having the support locally.

Todd:   Tim, talk a little bit about turn-key versus customizing my own system, I mean there’s situations where one makes sense and then different situations where the other does, just describe that a little bit.

Tim:     Well I would say that turn-key is becoming more and more important because of the product handling that’s needed for these high resolution barcodes that are needed so a lot of my time here at the show for example has been talking to our partners and depending on the application, one of us may be handling it versus another, but seeing how a laser might fit into a bottle unscrambling, how it’s going to fit into the serialization solution from these other providers, so the stand alone solutions, as much as they are going to get the job done, we’re going to recommend that close knit working together with our partner companies to really give the end customer the greatest solution possible.

Todd:   Tim, you indicated before the show that you’re running back and forth between the pack expo and the pharma expo in the South and West halls, which if you’re not attending the show, that is the equivalent of full marathons a day. Tim was 40 pounds heavier on Sunday. Obviously you’re exhibiting here, so what are you principally showcasing both at pack expo and pharma expo?

Tim:     Well some of the new technologies that we’re showcasing are new ultraviolet wavelength laser. This has the ability to mark directly onto HDPE which is very new to the industry basically, it’s not necessarily a new technology, but to be able to get a tracking code directly onto a bottle is coming to the forefront as a potential need.

            That’s where I’ve been trying to get our customers to think a little bit differently and consider this type of technology when it comes to that serialization need for example when you need to get an indelible mark with a data matrix code on it that’s going to be critical for future supply chain visibility, so we’ve had a lot of interest and traffic based around that new laser as well as on the thermal ink jet side again with high resolution print, the new interfaces that we’re offering to connect into our system partners is generating a lot of interest.

Todd:   What kind of questions are you getting asked? I mean it’s a new technology, it’s a new application, you know and emerging requirement, regulation driven and all that, what kind of questions are folks asking you?

Tim:     Basically, everyone’s concern with something they’re not comfortable with is reliability so have plenty in the field already but it’s kind of getting our customers to be more comfortable with a new solution.

            Most companies that are here are using a laser in some means but okay now it’s a different wavelength so is there a safety concern, is there an integration concern, and of course you want to address all of these things and like I was saying before about getting involved early, again safety needs to be covered with a laser and tying it into third party equipment for example.

            So this is where when I say I’m running back and forth, it’s ‘okay Mr customer, come with me to our partner companies and we’re going to talk over here now and then let’s go over to this partner company’, and we’re kind of parading people around it seems like sometimes, but it’s really getting a lot of work done in a short amount of time.

Todd:   I mean the integration is so critical, I mean you have to do that. So what will be talking about with you next, when we see you at a future show, what new products, what new technologies, and what continued innovation should we be looking for from Video Jet?

Tim:     Well we’re making some headway in the case coding we actually have a new print apply labeller and I think that that is going to be generating a lot of additional interest that’s just being shown here, so I think that new print and apply labeller will be the talk of the show sometime, I don’t know if you can say that, ‘the talk of the show’, but I think we’ve got the future for case coding is here now and I think that’s what we’ll be talking about.

Todd:   Sounds like it. Well Tim I hate to say it, running low on time, before we let you go, how can people get in touch with you and learn more about Video Jet Technologies?

Tim:     Well of course visit Video Jet’s website, you can come check us out. We are global so you can get on the website and they actually have a pop-up window that will contact you right away and you just type in your name and your phone number and we can get in touch with you pretty easily.

            Of course come by our booth still if you’re here at the show, we’re in the West hall at 646 as well as in the South hall at 26-47, so come say hello and we’ll see how we can help you out with your applications.

Todd:   Tim Kearns, strategic account manager in life sciences with Video Jet Technologies. Time, real pleasure to have you, thanks for stopping by and sharing some insight with us.

Tim:     Thank you for having me.

Todd:   The pleasure was ours. Well that wraps this segment, this has been Life Science Connect Radio, Todd and Todd signing off from Chicago, our live coverage will be right back.