May 26--Glass bottle manufacturer O-I has installed laser coding equipment from Linx at its Harlow facility to enable coding directly onto the bottle while the glass is still hot. As a supplier to all of the U.K.'s top five breweries and many of the country's leading regional players, O-I recognizes the value of providing a reliable code for traceability. The information can be used to readily identify faulty batches, distinguish between suppliers where customers source bottles from multiple locations, and can be used to protect against counterfeiting.
"We were keen to ensure that the container code was easily distinguishable from the information used by the filling company to identify the batch or use by date of the bottle contents," commented Mark Eldrett, quality assurance manager of O-I.
"In addition, we desired a durable solution that could withstand the rigors of being handled throughout the filling and distribution process.
If the text is damaged or removed, it is ineffectual for purposes of traceability of authenticity." As a result of these factors, ink jet coding was considered unsuitable for O-I's requirements and Linx recommended the use of its unique 'hot glass coding' laser solution.
The principle behind this technology is that better laser coding results are achieved when coding takes place close to the point at which the bottle or jar is formed, while the glass is still red hot.
This is because this process generates a very clean, smooth mark that is less visible and thus more discreet than codes created on cold glass.
Coding onto glass containers at the actual point of manufacture presents a number of challenges both in terms of the process itself and the extreme conditions in glass manufacturing plants.
The Xymark BBH is especially adapted for this hostile environment.
To ensure an effective code, the laser optics are designed to tolerate a long lens-to-product distance and have sufficient depth of focus to deal with the slight inconsistencies in the alignment of the bottles as they travel down the line.
The extra-long beam delivery system, comprising flexible arm and printhead, can withstand abient temperatures up to 70 degrees C. The coder itself is designed for installation above or beside the production line and has a special cooling system allowing it to operate at 45 degrees C.
The Xymark BBH also features a remote keyboard to allow the system to be programmed, adjusted, and controlled from a remote location.
O-I has installed the Xymark BBH on six of the seven high-speed production lines at its Harlow glass plant.
Each is programmed to apply a single-line alphanumeric code a 50 m/min, indelibly marking date and time of manufacture onto the base of the bottle immediately after it has been formed.
This position ensures the required differentiation from the coding information applied by the manufacturer, which is generally printed onto the bottle neck, closure, or label.