With the U.S. now vaccinating an astonishing 2 million people per day, the end of the pandemic is drawing closer than ever. Even once it’s over, though, there are some parts of our world that will have changed forever. More people have now become accustomed to digital buying than ever before—and manufacturers will continue to see high demand for affordable, quick-to-ship products. If your plant is starting to reckon with this new reality, here are a few strategies to help maximize production in a post-Covid world, and avoid any shutdowns in the future.
Identify potential bottlenecks
The first step in fixing the kinks in your supply chain is identifying them. Usually, the biggest sources for risk will be the outside facilities, contractors, or sub-contractors that you depend on to produce your product. This is especially true for products that require a specialized skillset to assemble, or contain difficult-to-source components. In order to keep everything running smoothly, take a moment—or several moments—to identify exactly who you rely on, all the way down to the smallest sub-contractor. Once you’ve done that, you’ll be ready to consider the strategies we’ll discuss below.
Bring parts of your supply chain in-house
Since every step in your production process is a potential point of risk, the most obvious way to reduce that risk is to bring as many processes in-house as possible. Before you reject this idea as financially unfeasible, consider that new technological advances, especially in the field of automation, can often make domestic production much more affordable than was in years prior. Robotic palletizers, for example, can greatly reduce the labor involved in preparing pallets for shipping, and in-house labeling and coding machines can eliminate another step in production. Not only do these solutions increase efficiency, they are also attractive to manufacturers post-pandemic because they reduce the need for human contact, and therefore the spread of germs.
On the subject of humans, we would be remiss to move on without acknowledging the concerns that have been raised about automation over the years. While automation does stand to eliminate the need for certain tasks that are currently performed manually, we would argue that many of these jobs are extremely tedious and often hazardous. Like any other innovation in the past century, automation stands to change the way we work, not eliminate it.
Diversify your supply chain
If it’s just not possible for you to bring every aspect of your production in-house, your next best option is to diversify your list of suppliers. If you can spread out your supply chain among multiple factories or regions, you will be able to source components and/or labor from sources that are not all vulnerable to the same risks.
Many economists have advocated for a “near-sourcing” model, wherein manufacturers would source materials and labor close to the market in which the product will be consumed. In North America, this would primarily mean reallocating plants from China to locations in Mexico and Central America, a move with both positives and negatives.
Others have argued for a distribution model that is more globalized, not less, in order to avoid any risk that would threaten a particular location. For instance, when the 2004 tsunami occurred, many companies that had relocated plants from China to Vietnam and Malaysia found that that diversification was not enough to eliminate stalls in production that affected the entire region.
Build a stockpile of key components
The Coronavirus certainly gave us all a lesson in the importance of saving for an emergency—whether with a bank account or a physical stockpile of inventory. Now, you can put that lesson into practice by considering a “safety stock” that would mitigate the effects of a future crisis.
As you set about building your stockpile, consider which components are the most valuable, and which points along the supply chain are the most high-risk for disruption. Since this type of “safety stock” ties up assets, and runs counter to decades-long practices of keeping inventories lean, you might not want to put aside too much product, especially if you produce for the tech sector. However, as we have just witnessed over the past year, having no backup plan whatsoever poses a big risk to your profitability, too. The only solution is to sit down with your firm’s key stakeholders and assess the potential costs of a hypothetical disruption, versus the costs of setting aside some emergency resources.
Overcoming Packaging, Marking and Coding Challenges in 2021
The Covid-19 pandemic has been a long, difficult struggle for all of is. But while it can be tempting to write off this year as a loss, it can also be viewed through the metaphorical lens of a forest wildfire: initially devastating, but ultimately an opportunity for growth and rebirth. The concerns raised in this article existed long before the pandemic. Now, we have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to “grow back” cleaner and greener than ever.
SSI Packaging supplies industrial packaging, marking, and coding equipment for our clients across the East Coast. From commercial inkjet printers and labelers to everyday packing tape, we offer everything you need to move your products safely, affordably and efficiently. If you would like to place an order or learn more about our services, please feel free to give us a call.
Neither rain, nor wind, nor driving snow will stop the delivery of the mail. Nor, apparently, will disgusting items; heavy items; bizarre items; or the fact that the item is a living human being. Here are some of the strangest things people have successfully sent through the mail.
When the U.S. Postal Service began delivering packages in 1913, it didn’t take long for people to realize that it was cheaper to mail their children than it was to buy them train tickets. One such couple, Mr. and Mrs. Jesse Beauge of Glen Este, Ohio, paid $15 cents in stamps to send their son to his grandmother’s house. If this sounds a little foolish, not to worry: the couple also insured their son for $50.
It didn’t take long for the Postal Service to outlaw the practice of shipping children, but certain Postmasters were inclined to be lenient. During this time period, one couple even successfully mailed a 14 lb baby to its grandma. Finally, in 1915, the straw that broke the camel’s back came when May Pierstorff, just shy of her 6th birthday, was over 73 miles away to her grandparents’ house. After that, the Postal Service declared an all-out ban on child delivery. Neither rain, nor wind, nor driving snow will stop the delivery of the mail. Nor, apparently, will disgusting items; heavy items; bizarre items; or the fact that the item is a living human being. Here are some of the strangest things people have successfully sent through the mail.
1916, there was no law against shipping an entire building through the mail, because no one thought that someone would attempt it. They didn’t count on William H. Coltharp, a man with a dream to build a bank and a limited shipping budget. He calculated that the best way to send his bricks to his construction site, 127 miles away, was via the U.S. mail. He had 40 crates packed just under the 50 lb limit, for a total shipment of 40 tons.
The Utah post office was overwhelmed, but to their credit, successfully completed the job. However, the episode prompted the then-Postmaster, General Burleson, to limit the weight one person could send to 200 lbs per day. "It is not the intent of the United States Postal Service that buildings be shipped through the mail,” he wrote.
The Hope Diamond
The most expensive item to ever be shipped through the mail was the Hope Diamond, the rare, blue, possibly-cursed diamond whose ownership records date back over almost four centuries. After passing through the hands of Kings, Queens, royal mistresses, thieves, and jewelers, the gem wound up in the hands of New York merchant Harry Winston in 1958. Winston never believed that the diamond was cursed, and in fact exhibited it for several years in his “Court of Jewels” tour. He eventually donated it to the National Museum of Natural History, not because he feared a curse, but because he hoped to establish a U.S. national gem collection.
Not a man of great fussiness, apparently, Winston wrapped the diamond in brown paper and shipped it through ordinary post. He paid $2.44 for postage and about $142 for insurance. The diamond arrived at its destination safe and sound, and was given a new name, Specimen #217868.
A pet chameleon
While you can’t send a cat, dog, or child through the mail anymore, there are a few live animals that actually can be sent. In 1954, an Ohio man known only as “David” decided that his pet chameleon would be much happier in Florida. A few weeks after sending it on its way, he received the following note from Orlando’s then-Postmaster: “Dear David, I received your chameleon yesterday and he was immediately released on the post office grounds. Best wishes for a Merry Christmas!”
For those curious, other live animals that can be mailed include bees, scorpions, chickens, fish, and animals smaller than 20 inches. You can view a complete list here.
For centuries, people have tried to push the envelope (get it?) of what can and cannot be sent through the mail. In 2000, a team of social scientists decided to test the Post Office’s limits once again. Researchers mailed themselves items ranging from a single ski; a green coconut; a street sign; a wheel of rancid cheese; a deer tibia; and…a human molar. All of the items, including the molar, arrived intact to their destinations.
The tooth was the only item with which the postal service apparently had some deliberation. While the rest of the items shipped within 7 business days, the tooth took twice as long to arrive. Finally, it was delivered in a repackaged mailer with an accompanying note: “Please be advised that human remains may not be transported through the mail, but we assumed this to be of sentimental value, and made an exception in your case.”
50,000 pink panties
In 2009, a right-wing Indian group called the Sri Ram Sena attacked young women in a nightclub. The group accused the women of destroying Hindu culture by dressing provocatively, and promised to enact more violence on Valentine’s Day. Although the attack was caught on film and received some media attention, it would likely had been forgotten had not one group, the Consortium of Pub-going, Loose and Forward Women, decided it was time to take action.
The group started the Pink Chaddi campaign, a movement that invited women to mail the SRS a pair of pink “chaddi”, or “undies”, in protest. The movement spread across the nation, with thousands of women sending in, er, contributions. At the time of this writing, organizers have received more than 50,000 colored panties, with about 2,000 winding up in the SRS mailbox. The SRS eventually withdrew its threat of Valentine’s Day violence, and several members were placed into custody by an embarrassed government.
A human foot
This story happened in gentle, peaceful Canada, where everyone loves their politicians. Just kidding. Politicians are hated everywhere, and one dissatisfied voter decided to express his disagreements with then-Prime Minister Stephen Harper by mailing in a severed human foot. According to Ottawa police spokesman Marc Soucy, the package was shipped despite what appeared to be bloodstains on the outside of the box. Staff members then called the police.
Hours later, authorities discovered a second suspicious package containing a human hand at the Ottawa Postal Terminal Tuesday night, which police confirmed was sent from the same origin as the foot. They declined to say where the package was being shipped, the condition of the appendage, or whether had been postmarked.
There’s nothing like a cold craft beer! It’s estimated that craft beers sales are growing at 15-20 percent annually. In 2015 craft beer sales exceeded $22.3 billion. With all of this growth and competition how does a micro-brewer stand apart from the crowd? Sure, you can have a great brew, cool labeling, and a hot social media campaign, but being sure your brews are served fresh will keep customers and local taprooms coming back for more. Clearly displaying accurate date coding on your bottles will let everyone know you take brewing seriously.
The Brewers Association recommends that date lot code be clearly coded to aid with marketing freshness, but more importantly traceability for brewers, distributors, importers, and consumers. According to the Bioterrorism Act, brewers are required to insure traceability of their beer. Brewers must keep internal records of the specific ingredients, including manufacture lot numbers that were used in individual batches.
Having clearly labeled lot coding benefits the producers, distributors, and the consumers. The most vital role in lot coding is in the unfortunately event of a quality of safety recall. While brewers to there best to prevent recalls, it is essential to be prepared for them. Empowering retailers and distribution chains to utilize a first-in first-out strategy will ensure that stock stays fresh
Allowing consumers to understand the shelf life of beer educates the public about the industry, but more importantly about how brewers value freshness and transparency.
According the Brewers Association, there are several best practices for coding craft beer*:
• Standard or Gregorian Date package date coding
• “Best by” dating
• Julian date coding
• Unique company specific date coding
SSI packaging group are date and lot coding specialists. We have coding solutions for the smallest of brewers in the country to the largest. For bottle and can lot coding our Jet2NEO continuous inkjet printer by Leibinger, and our .UNO system by ink.jet are both compacts and economical. The Jet2NEO has a unique Sealtronic system that prevents the ink from being exposed to air, and therefore preventing clogging and additional maintenance between product runs. The .UNO high resolution system features ink cartridges from HP and is a great turnkey solution for brewers.
When it comes to case coding for craft brewers, print image and code accuracy is key for successful distribution and sales. Simple to use and maintain case coding systems from SSI Packaging Group include:
• Inc.jet .UNO
• Inc.jet . core
• Evolution 1 BY Digital Design
Of course, SSI Packaging Group is your complete warehouse solution as well with thousands of warehouse supplies in stock every day. From boxes and carton sealing tape, to high speed lot coding systems for bottles and cases, at SSI Packaging Group “we help you pack an track your image”®
The Jet2neoS has all the features of the Jet2Neo, but it designed for smaller fonts and higher production throughput. The Jet2neoS has a smaller nozzle that is 60µ, which is perfect for extremely fine print. As a standard in the inkjet world, the Jet2neoS is a rock solid solution for you CIJ needs - parts, food and beverage, metals, plastics, packaging, and much more.
Due to the smaller 60 µm nozzle size the Jet2neoS helps save on ink and solvent with every use. This reliable CIJ system can print more than 120 million characters from a single bottle of ink. Solvent consumption is decreased with the Jet2neoS by using its patented solvent recycling system that saves 50% of solvent. Plus, the system uses only 30 watts of energy, that’s about 1/3 of a 100W light bulb.
Like all LEIBINGER small character inkjet systems, the Jet2neoS utilizes the Sealrtonic nozzle seal. The Sealtronic system prevents air from entering the system and drying out the ink or the gutter. Therefore, after long shut-down periods, the Jet2neoS is ready to print within seconds.
Learn more about the Jet2neo and the Jet2neoS at:
It has always been difficult to run pigmented inks with light, high-contrast colors like white, light blue or yellow in small character Continuous Inkjet (CIJ) printers. Unlike black or darker colored dye based inks, pigmented inks require effective agitation to keep pigments from separating from the solvent carrier. Once the pigments separated, the sediment will clog the nozzle, filters, transfer valves and cause the print to lose contrast. The Leibinger Jet3pi Pigmented printer has numerous design features that enable very reliable operation, low maintenance and excellent print quality with pigmented inks. Here’s why the Jet3pi Pigmented printer is best-in-class:
The Jet3pi Pigmented printer is used extensively throughout many industries including wire, cable, pipe, extruded products, parts marking and packaging.
When a Leibinger printer is started, ink pressure is stabilized before the gutter returns to the open position. This is where conventional ink jets falter because the ink stream can “wobble” while pressure is building and clog the narrow slot within the charge electrodes causing poor print quality, fault conditions and messy clean-up. This printhead design also eliminates the “auto flush” cycle at shut-down which can dilute the ink supply and reduce print quality and contrast.
Unique Features of the Jet3pi Especially for Pigmented Inks
1. The variable speed, magnetically coupled stirring motor on the bottom of the internal ink reservoir continuously mixes the ink when the printer is running. There is a stirring bar within the reservoir that effectively keeps pigments from separating.
2. Ink is pumped through the main filter and into the bottom of the cone shaped ink chamber within the pressure tank. Pigment residue cannot collect since the incoming flow agitates the ink within the chamber.
3. Leibinger’s diaphragm type ink and suction pumps run much cooler and don’t “grind” on the pigments like gear driven pumps in competitive printers. The result is much longer pump life and less degradation of the ink over time.
4. Leibinger printers are designed to enable component level service rather than replacement of expensive modules or subassemblies that are not field serviceable.
5. Preventive maintenance is recommended twice yearly. Jet3 PM kits are inexpensive and easy to install by either the customer or Leibinger technicians.
All Leibinger printers have an “interval mode” feature which will automatically start the printer at programmable intervals up to 3 times daily when not in use. This feature is especially important for pigmented inks to keep the ink mixed. Competitive printers may claim to have a similar feature but only the Jet3pi will recirculate ink throughout the entire hydraulic system including the printhead and nozzle, not just the ink reservoir. This is key to prevent pigments from settling and accumulating within the fluid handling components. Almost no make-up solvent is consumed during interval mode.
SSI Packaging Group is proud to provide the Jet3pi CIj printer featuring pigmented inks. Download the whitepaper and specification PDF here.
There’s been quite a bit of conversation about food waste this summer. As a way of clearing up some common questions about date labels on food packages, let’s look at what they actually mean.
When browsing the shelves in a grocery store you’ll notice 4 main types of date codes on products. Each of these codes are for a specific target group and mean different things.
“best by” - This is date code is a guide for the average consumer. According to David Fikes, vice President of Consumer/Community Affairs and Communications for Food Marketing Institute, an item labeled “best by” usually means that the product will taste best by a specific date. However, the consumer may be able to consume it following that date, with a few exceptions.
“use by” - This is just another way of stating “best by” and means the same thing. Someone will have the best experience with a product prior to the “use by” or “best by” date.
“sell by” - When items are stocked on shelves, employees use the “sell by” date to determine if they can place it on the shelves for sale. Therefore, this date is targeting the retailer and not the consumer. The product will probably be just fine after the "sell by" date, but the store and manufacture want it off the shelves quickly to rotate in new stock.
“expiration date” - Baby formula and a few other baby food products may include a true “expiration date.” After the “expiration date” the nutrients in these baby-related food items may begin to diminish and not be beneficial for the infant. If an item has an "expiration date" on it, then it's there because of federal regulations.
The bottom line is that these dates have less to do with safety and more to do with quality. There are, of course, exceptions such as dairy products, fresh vegetables, and fresh meats. For these items one should check resources such as the Safe Storage chart we posted in January, 2015 or use the new FDA FookKeeper app.
A useful tool for consumers to check the safety of foods is a recently release app but he FDA called FoodKeeper. This helpful app enables consumers to look up the shelf life of food items before and after they are opened. The FDA released this app to help prevent food waste.
Leibinger CIJ Printers are accurate, efficient, and cost effective. The specialized sealing feature of the Jet2neo printer ensures that air is not exposed to the ink, therefore making it ready to print on demand, when needed.
The compact JET2neo industrial marking and coding system can be easily integrated into any environment thanks to its small dimensions. The print head is designed so that it can also be installed in tight spaces.
Only parts that are actually worn are replaced when the JET2neo undergoes service. The long-life ink bottles deliver more than 120 million characters. LEIBINGER industrial marking and coding systems contain no cores, cubes, ink modules or expensive assembly units that need replacing.
The high-performance JET2neo Continuous Inkjet (CIJ) printer is the ideal printing and marking system for all non-contact marking and coding tasks on a wide variety of materials, products and packages. The “Sealtronic“ automatic nozzle seal sets this CIJ printer from the competition ensuring that the ink never dries out. Built with high-quality materials, sophisticated technologies and the best production processes the JET2neo has a 24 month warranty to keep your production up and running with ease.
The LEIBINGER automatic nozzle seal, “Sealtronic”, always guarantees immediate availability of the JET2neo. Even after long-term shut-downs the JET2neo will not dry out and is ready to resume printing immediately.
Only parts that are actually worn are replaced when the JET2neo undergoes service. The long-life ink bottles deliver more than 120 million characters. LEIBINGER industrial marking and coding systems contain no cores, cubes, ink modules or expensive assembly units that need replacing.
JET2Neo CIJ Printer distributed By SSI Packaging Group
For over 40 years SSI Packaging Group has been a leader of innovation within the marking and coding industry. SSI Packaging Group specializes in packaging and industrial marking and coding in the Mid-Atlantic and South Eastern states. We are experts in the field of inkjet coding, laser coding, labeling, packaging materials, and shipping supplies. We have sales representatives throughout the Mid-Atlantic and South East who can provide cost-effective solutions to your packaging, and marking and coding needs. The JET2neo CIJ printer is one of our most versatile inkjet systems.
Learn More / Tech Specs Available Here
The noise in the school cafeteria sounded like a roller coaster line at an amusement park. The children were excited to be out of class for their 25 mins. respite for lunch. As I wait for my daughter, I noticed the familiar long line at the cafeteria counter. A lot has changed in last 30+ years in the area of school lunches. Children can choose from a variety of foods, they can select one (or more) of several beverage options, and they use a school credit account instead of cash (Don’t even get me started about teaching kids to rely on credit in 1st grade!). One of the changes to school lunches that seems to be invaluable is the importance of the date codes and freshness dates on almost every item on their trays.
In the fiscal year 2014, there were more than 5 billion lunches served in the United States.1 Of those 5 billion lunches, 64% were connected to the federal free lunch program.2 The statistics regarding school lunches show a steady increase year after year on the number of children who are eating school lunches instead of packing a lunch. When I was a child, I carried around my Incredible Hulk metal lunchbox that also doubled as my matchbox car collection carrier. By the end of the week, there was no telling what was in that lunch/car carrier that I called a lunchbox. Some days, I had no idea what the leftovers were, I just knew that we couldn’t afford to by lunches every day, so if I wanted to eat, I’d have to pack my lunch.
As I sat on the tiny stools at my daughter’s lunch table I looked around to see what the kids were eating. Most were eating lunches provided by the school. You could quickly see who had the standard lunch or the “upgrade” lunch. No matter if a child was receiving a free or reduced lunch or they paid full price, I noticed a several similarities right away.
First, milk is still the standard drink. Both the chocolate and white milks has date codes on them. However, 3 out of 5 kids at our table said their milk was frozen and were unable to drink it by the end of the lunch period. That’s not the end of the world, but it’s disappointing that the school didn’t seem to care. Second, everyone had a sealed fruit of some kind- applesauce, peaces, pears, etc. All of that fruit had date codes on them as well. Third, the meat (if you want to call it that) and the veggies looked like they were some version of a thawed frozen food- all of which have date codes on their containers in the freezer.
Why all of these codes? Of course, it make it easy for the kitchen staff to see what’s still edible and what needs to be tossed. More importantly, these codes help the manufacture track their products for recall purposes. One recall in Feb 2015 was identified as causing 60 children in three states allergic-style reactions. The swift recall helped protect other school systems and children from potentially harmful allergic reactions.4
Implications For Consumers
First and foremost, go have lunch with your kids. You’re making memories, building trust, and having fun when you go to the cafeteria. They won’t be young long! Second, understanding date coding on products is a relativity new skill for many people. Most of the time, simply searching for the inkjet code or stamped code on an item will reveal the suggested Use By date. There are other codes on most items, but they are usually for internal use by the manufacturer and are just gibberish to consumers. Third, teach your kids to look for date codes whether your children pack a lunch or eat a school lunch. There is nothing like cracking open a carton of milk only to discovery you needed a fork to eat the lumpy stuff inside. Looking at the date code could prevent a spoiled food from ruining one’s entire lunch. Date codes are there to read, take a moment while shopping and while preparing foods to find the date code. If there is no date code, contact the manufacture and request the date the item was packaged.
Implications For Industry
School lunches are big business! In 2014, the cost of commodities for school lunches exceeded $16.4 billion.3 Items that mostly provided for school lunch programs include” fruit, vegetables, milk, boxed snacks, breads (rolls, buns, etc.), frozen meats, frozen pizza, desserts, and more. All of these items must have reliable coding on them to ensure freshness and quality. Poorly printed coding can jeopardize confidence in a manufacture and possible loss of contracts. Manufactures, food packers, and food distributors must be able to have clearly printed codes on the items they sell and distribute.
Most companies what to do the right thing by issuing a recall if something is found to be a health hazard. Sometimes the recalls are voluntary others are mandatory. If the codes are smudged, poorly printed, or missing altogether the health of dozens or even thousands of children are at risk. No company wants to take on the risk of bad publicity of children or become ill due to their products. So the food industry has developed certain standards to help facilitate the prompt delivery of foods for schools and, if needed, immediate recall procedures.
SSI Packaging Group has been meeting the needs of food manufactures for decades. They are experts on ink jet coding, laser coding, case coding, and industrial packaging. SSI realized the need to be able to not just print these valuable codes, but also that these items needed to be able to be tracked with surgical precision so they invented the pakTru traceability system.
pakTru traceability, combined with quality ink jet coding, laser coding, or quality labeling systems, help ensure that products are accurately delivered within necessary guidelines. pakTru is a fully owned subsidiary of SSI Packaging, a provider of coding and marking solutions for over 40 years. SSI Packaging has been providing superior customer service and exceptional solutions-driven value to their many clients and is proud to expand their products to include pakTru. More information can be found at www.pakTru.com and www.ssipackaging.com.
Did you know yams are toxic if eaten raw? Furthermore, what most of us call “yams” are really just different varieties of sweet potatoes. It’s doesn’t change the fact that Grandmother’s yam casserole with the melted marshmallows on top isn’t yummy. It most likely means that delectable creation is simply misnamed.
According to the NC Sweet Potato Commission, yams are rarely sold in the local grocery stores in the US. Yams are typically grown in tropical climates in the Caribbean, Africa, and South America. Their skin is thick and can range in color (very bright to dark) and their flesh can even be purple. In perfect growing conditions yams can grow to be as large as 7 feet long! A few decades ago the term yam came into the market in order to distinguish orange colored sweet potatoes from other colored varieties of sweet potatoes. The root word of yam stems from a word derived from the continent of Africa, “nyami”.
Sweet potatoes are big business (and are certainly non-toxic). More than 40% of the US sweet potato market is produced in North Carolina. Great strides are made from farmers, packers, and shippers to ensure that only the freshest sweet potatoes are delivered to produce shelves across the country. One way this is managed is through a rock-solid track and trace solutions like pakTru. With reliable traceability hardware and proven management software, pakTru enables farmers, producers, and packers to trace all of the details of every bin produced - from the amount of fertilizer it received, the sources of water from any given farm, specific production lines the sweet potties were on, and much more. This makes for surgical precision if a recall is necessary as well as help growers to analyze yield to improve future seasons, processing, and shipping. Using pakTru’s secure cloud storage, all the data is safely stored off-site and can be accessed only through our secure internet servers from anywhere on the planet (office, home, in the field, etc.).
To learn more about how your farm and/or company can add an affordable traceability solution to your sweet potato product, call 804.649.1111 or email email@example.com