6 Great Solutions to Manufacturing Labeling Problems

Labeling products, components, and other parts of the manufacturing process seems like a pretty simple proposition. But if you’ve ever dealt with UL certification, UDI, labeling small components and parts, or trying to track work in process and track manufacturing assets and tooling in bins or totes, you’ve probably experienced some of the challenges and headaches.

Things aren’t so simple when you’re dealing with specialized labeling requirements like these, and there are some common problems you can end up encountering.

In this article, we take a look at some of those common specialized labeling problems and 6 great solutions from Zebra Technologies to make your tracking and identification a lot easier and more reliable.

  1. Electronic, UL Certified and Small Component Product Labeling

When you need to label and identify electronic and UL certified products, including very small components, some common problems occur, especially when labels and printer ribbons aren’t matched correctly, and if you’re not using proper label materials for durability and readability.

Printed barcodes or other information on labels can end up becoming unreadable or unscannable due to abrasion, fading from environment conditions, or rubbing off as a result of the label and printer ribbon being incompatible.

This is why Zebra created its thermal transfer Z-Ultimate 2000T gloss polyester labels with matching 5095 wax/resin ribbon. Zebra matches the label and ribbon and pre-tests them to ensure readability when subjected to abrasion and most moderate-strength chemicals. The labels are certified to meet the UL 969 Labeling Standard as well, and Zebra is authorized to pre-print the UL mark.

  1. UDI Product Identification for Medical Devices

In medical device manufacturing, UDI is crucial since it ensures compliant identification and tracking for every labeled device. But many labels fail in UDI applications because they’re not resistant to multiple sterilization cycles, and they don’t withstand cleaning agents used to disinfect medical devices.

To ensure that labels remain scannable and identifiable despite these factors, Zebra recommends using the same Z-Ultimate 2000T gloss polyester label and 5095 wax/resin ribbon that it produces for UL and small component labeling.

The label and ribbon are matched and pre-tested to ensure smear/scratch resistance and withstand exposure to steam autoclave, gamma radiation and ethylene oxide sterilization. Print remains readable and scannable after being wiped down with common hospital cleaning agents for the product’s useful life, and Zebra’s labels are approved for UL969 and UL-IEC 60601-1 use.

  1. Automotive Component Labeling

Automotive component labeling is increasingly important, especially to suppliers who must be compliant with manufacturers’ traceability requirements. But labeling components that feature curved surfaces, such as a wire harness, can be difficult. Labels can fall off prior to components being delivered to the manufacturer, or printed barcodes and information can fade after exposure to chemicals once products are in use in vehicles.

To label small, curved components and ensure adhesion and print durability, our team at Tri-State Business Systems recommends Zebra’s thermal transfer PolyPro 300T gloss polypropylene labels with Zebra’s 5095 wax/resin ribbon.

PolyPro 3000T labels are pre-tested on actual surfaces to ensure the label will stay readable and adhered during a component’s complete life cycle. They stay adhered to most small, curved surfaces, and print on these labels is highly durable when subjected to engine oil, diesel fuel, anti-freeze, cleaning solvents and grease.

  1. RFID Tote Bin Labeling

RFID tags and labels are becoming an increasingly popular and cost-effective way to identify and track parts in tote bins without having to manually scan or have line-of-sight access to barcodes. But there are a few challenges that come along with this innovative new approach.

Certain RFID label inlays can’t encode a large amount of information, and some tags have encoding issues where there are too many voids. In some applications, manufacturers have problems with being unable to read their RFID tags at any angle, or being unable to read them due to densely packed items.

Zebra’s ZBR4001 inlays put an end to these troubles. The ZBR4001 is a high-memory inlay that enables encoding of a larger amount of information, and it’s optimized to be read from nearly any angle. It also performs well when placed on or near challenging materials such as pallets or freight, and it works great with densely packed items.

ZBR4001 inlays are pre-tested with Zebra’s RFID readers and printers to ensure high-performance, and Zebra follows an ISO:9001 quality procedure to ensure correct placement of inlays to reduce encoding issues.

  1. RFID Tooling and Asset Tracking

Identifying tooling in crates and bins is a great way to keep track of manufacturing tooling and make sure it’s available when needed for key production processes. But, similar to tote labeling, there are often problems with trying to use RFID to identify and track tooling due to encoding issues, limitations to RFID reading angles, and an inability to read RFID tags when items are packed densely.

For these applications, our RFID experts at Tri-State recommend Zebra’s ZBR4000 inlays. They have ultra-high sensitivity with read ranges up to 65 feet (20 meters) in free space. But they also perform well when items are densely packed or you’re reading RFID tags on challenging assets.

The ZBR4000 inlay is designed in conjunction with NXP, a leading RFID chip developer, and is certified by the University of Auburn’s ARC Program. It’s also optimized to be read from nearly any angle and pre-tested with Zebra RFID readers and printers for maximum performance.

And, like Zebra’s ZBR4001 inlay, it’s produced with an ISO:9001 manufacturing quality process to ensure correct inlay placement and minimize encoding issues.

  1. Work in Process Tagging

Many manufacturers and suppliers are looking to get better at work in process tracking, so they can have real-time or near-real-time visibility into their production. But many don’t have a means to track products through their production processes, so it’s hard to get that visibility and identify bottlenecks.

Barcodes are a great way to automate this process, but there needs to be a way to use and scan them throughout the entire manufacturing process, and it needs to be relatively inexpensive. This is why Zebra developed its thermal transfer Z-Perform 1000T tags with 6000 wax ribbon.

The Z-Perform 1000T is an economical paper tag with wax ribbon, providing durable barcodes and print that can be scanned throughout production without the higher cost of using a specialized label designed to last for many years.

Like all other Zebra labeling and print supply products, it’s pre-tested and produced with stringent quality controls, so you get the best quality and results in a cost-effective solution.

Learn More About Zebra Manufacturing Labeling Solutions

Looking to explore some of these solutions for your production processes? Have questions or need guidance on how to find the right solution for your application?

Contact Tri-State Business Systems now to learn more about our complete portfolio of Zebra barcode labeling solutions and get expert advice to find the right match for your business needs.



How Zebra Wristbands and Labels Solve the Biggest Healthcare Identification and Tracking Challenges

Delivering quality healthcare requires many different departments and processes where patients, equipment, samples and supplies need to be accurately identified and tracked.

Many hospitals and other medical facilities struggle with everyday problems that get in the way of fast, accurate and reliable identification and tracking. And many of them come down to the quality and limitations of the barcode labels and patient ID wristbands they use to automate identification and data capture.

In this article, we take a quick look at some of these common problems, how they occur, and how to eliminate them with high-quality and specially designed Zebra labels and patient ID wristbands. Let’s take a look.

Patient Identification

Positive healthcare outcomes and good patient safety begin with accurate patient identification from admission to discharge. But there are three common challenges that often make this harder:

  • Wristband barcodes and printed information can become illegible and unscannable due to fading, smudging or other issues after contact with hand sanitizers.
  • Wristbands can also twist on a patient’s wrist, requiring a nurse to wake the patient to adjust the wristband and successfully scan it.
  • Sometimes linear barcodes are unscannable due to the curvature of a patient’s wrist, requiring a nurse to manipulate the band to scan the code.

The easiest way to prevent these issues is with Zebra’s LaserBand®2 Advanced Wristbands.

  • LaserBand®2 wristbands are made with specialized materials and a simple assembly that allows barcodes and printed information to withstand moisture and the harshest sanitizers and cleaners. They’re up to 6 times more durable to hand sanitizers than competing products.
  • They also have a patented design that doesn’t twist on the patient’s wrist. The bands always lay flat for quick and easy scannability, without having to manipulate the wristband.

Phlebotomy Collection

Collecting and accurately identifying blood samples from bedside to the lab is another critical healthcare process, but it’s often plagued by a serious problem:

  • Many hospitals and other facilities manually identify “stat” samples that need quick testing within an hour or less. Since they don’t have an easy way to identify these samples on a barcode label, it opens up the process to error, and if testing doesn’t happen on time, you can end up having to do a re-draw and re-test.

Thankfully there’s an easy way to automate the identification of stat samples. Zebra’s direct thermal IQ Color 2000D paper labels have invisible inks that can be pre-printed on phlebotomy labels and activated on-demand during the label printing process. These colorful “tabs” on labels make stat samples immediately visible and identifiable.

Blood Bag Identification

Two common issues often occur with blood bag labeling for blood banks:

  • Labels with basic materials are often not resistant to moisture and can easily fade, making barcodes and printed information unreadable or unscannable.
  • It’s also critical to prevent blood contamination from label adhesives, but basic labels don’t have specialized adhesives for this purpose, so the adhesive can leach through blood bags.

By using Zebra’s thermal transfer 8000T primary blood bad polyethylene labels with Zebra’s 3200 wax/resin ribbon, you can put an end to both problems. You get a label adhesive tested to ensure it won’t leach through the bag and contaminate the blood, and the polypropylene material is resistant to moisture so it remains readable throughout its use.

Microscope Slide Labeling

Microscope slides are a big part of the medical testing process, but this is another area where barcode labels can create problems. Here’s why:

  • Contact with stains and Xylene during testing can cause labels to fall off the microscope slide or cause the image to fade and become unreadable and unscalable, resulting in the need to obtain another sample for re-resting.

The good news is that Zebra has created a solution specifically for microscope slide labeling: its thermal transfer Z-Xtreme 5000T polyester label and image lock resin ribbon.

These Z-Xtreme labels are pre-tested to ensure resistance to stains, Xylene and other chemicals used in the testing process. So your labels remain identifiable and secure, and you can deliver lab results to the correct patient in a timely manner. And the image lock cartridge resin ribbon is available for use with Zebra’s ZD420-C printer, enabling quick and easy installation of your thermal ribbon.

Asset Tracking

Equipment such as wheelchairs, test equipment, beds and other items are frequently in high demand and needed in specific locations in a hospital. But if you don’t know where they are, or you can’t easily identify them to track inventory, maintenance, or other critical information, you can be left with time-consuming searches or even costly losses and unnecessary replacements.

One of the best ways to track the status and location of medical equipment is by using RFID technology to track assets. But RFID is a big challenge in many healthcare environments for several reasons:

  • The metal parts of healthcare equipment can cause interference with the readability of RFID labels, meaning RFID reads might fail.
  • To properly identify metal items, many healthcare facilities have to use more costly specialized RFID tags.
  • Metal-friendly RFID tags are typically thicker and can’t be printed through standard thermal printers.

Fortunately, there’s a great solution for RFID healthcare asset tracking with Zebra’s Silverline RFID labels. These labels feature a material barrier between the RFID inlay and adhesive that prevents interference and delivers improved read ranges.

They’re also more cost-effective compared to other RFID tags for labeling metal items, and you can print and encode them easily with Zebra’s ZT411 RFID industrial printer, which includes an optional upgrade to print thicker tags.

Where to Learn More About Zebra Healthcare Wristbands and Labels

Hopefully this article has introduced you to some great solutions to barcoding and labeling issues that you might be experiencing with healthcare identification and tracking. But there are many more solutions available to help improve your patient care and processes.

Contact Tri-State Business Systems now to learn more about our complete portfolio of Zebra printing, labeling and wristband solutions, and how we can help you solve your biggest operational challenges.







Why Zebra Labels and Printing Supplies Are the Right Choice

Printing, applying and scanning barcode labels is a basic process that businesses need to depend on without thinking.

Barcode labels are business critical and allow us to track inventory and shipments, automate data capture, and keep information and workflows moving reliably through our operations. But all it takes is a single failed scan, one poorly printed barcode, or one adhesive failure to bring things to a halt.

That’s why it pays to understand and use the right barcode labels and high-quality supplies, to avoid and eliminate print quality, scanning and adhesion problems, which can get in the way of our barcode-driven productivity and efficiency.

It also pays to invest in high-quality and pre-tested Zebra thermal printing labels and supplies, and here’s why:

High-Quality, Pre-Tested, and Reliable Labels

Zebra’s pre-tested, consistent label materials ensure print quality and reduce the need to re-print labels due to poor readability and scannability. It also ensures the clarity and accuracy of pricing and other business-critical information on your labels and tags.

High-quality labels and printing supplies also ensure that only the best materials come into contact with your printheads. This means you can get your desired print quality without having to constantly adjust print darkness and without causing excessive wear and use of your printheads. Over the long haul, that can easily add up to thousands of dollars in savings on printhead replacements.

Using Zebra printing supplies means you’re getting great quality labels, ribbons and materials that are designed to eliminate common labeling and scanning issues and maximize the life, availability and productivity of your printers and printheads.

Outstanding Materials, Production Quality and Pre-Testing

Zebra pre-tests all of its labels and printing supplies and has quality processes in place to ensure the highest print quality. These include:

  • No substitution of materials
  • ISO 9001:2008 certified quality processes
  • A computerized vision inspection system
  • Color-matching software and equipment

Zebra’s supplies Research & Development team also pre-tests all Zebra labels and supplies on Zebra printers, putting them through stringent tests and analysis. Testing includes:

  • Pre-testing on Zebra Printers
  • Assessment of printhead wear
  • Verification of adhesive strength specifications
  • Pre-tests for different environmental factors such as:
    • Indoor/outdoor
    • Low/high temperatures
    • Abrasion
    • Chemical exposure

Unsurpassed Selection

When you purchase genuine Zebra supplies, you have access to a large selection of quality, pre-tested supplies manufactured by the thermal industry experts. Zebra offers more than 1,000 combinations of labels, tags, receipts, wristbands, and ribbons, including over 500 stock products.

When you need to grow your business through better operational efficiency, branding, customer service, and compliance, Zebra has the selection you need. It’s why Zebra supplies are the leading choice from small businesses to the Fortune 500.

Supplies Availability and Reliability

Zebra is one of the largest thermal converters in North America and has extensive manufacturing capabilities and automation. With multiple supplies facilities across the U.S., Zebra can ensure reliable and quick delivery and has full contingency/disaster plans to ensure uninterrupted shipments.

100% Guaranteed Printhead Protection

We’ve saved the best for last, but if you use Zebra printers and agree to use genuine Zebra supplies exclusively, you get guaranteed protection against premature printhead replacement costs. If you have a printhead that wears out too soon, it will be replaced at absolutely no charge.

To learn more about Zebra supplies, including getting guaranteed printhead protection, contact our labeling experts at Tri-State Business Systems now. Call us at 908-359-8001 or email sales@tri-statebussys.com www.tri-statebussys.com