Using Printers in Sub Zero Temperatures

How the food distribution industry was revolutionised by heated printer enclosures:

Printers and barcode labels for stock control in the food industry does not only make things easier, in an age of traceability and sell by dates  they are crucial in monitoring food products as they are stored. Barcode printers especially have taken the headache out of monitoring perishable goods as a simple scan will input all he information a computer needs.

Barcodes are printed from conventional or industrial printers and placed on food items to allow large amounts of information to be stored simply and without fuss, ensuring products are distributed with complete traceability and confidence.

Most large retailers such as the big supermarkets distribute most food stuffs from large regional distribution centres which include chilled and frozen sections where deliveries can be loaded and unloaded directly into the chillers and freezers.

However, this does pose a problem for the stock control of food items as no printer, including industrial printers, can work in sub-zero temperatures. This is because print heads are extremely sensitive to heat and any temperature falling close to zero degrees will fail permanently, meaning any printing of food labels in these large distribution centres has to be done in a warm office location. Now, when you consider the size of many of these regional Freezer or chilled distribution centres (FDC.CDC) can often mean a thirty minute walk from some unfortunate employee.

But it is not just workers shoe leather that gets affected. The turn around for transport in these centres is also impinged upon which too has a knock on effect throughout the distribution chain causing:
•    Disruption to the transport schedules as drivers have to wait for labels before they are unloaded/loaded
•    Take  up the time of staff members who have to regularly walk to the printer and back which could often be in excess of thirty minutes
•    Hinders labelling and cause problems in stock control and the potential for products to be labelled incorrectly
•    The delayed transport effects the stock levels in the supermarkets, deterring customers who couldn’t buy the products they wanted

Many of the larger food retailers managed to find a solution by using a heated printer enclosure. These allow standard printers to be used in temperatures that fall to below -30 degrees. The enclosures keep the printer and more specifically print head warm allowing the device to be used in the middle of the freezer section.
Once installed these heated printer enclosures drastically reduce the turnaround time of transport to these centres, improves operations and logistics and prevents the possibility of incorrect labelling.

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