by Sabri MOURAD
Thursday, April 28, 2022

Continuous Inkjet (CIJ): achieving versatility in a rapidly changing marketplace

The last two years has taught us that adaptability is a business imperative, especially if you need to respond quickly to changing market and consumer demands. Sabri Mourad, Product Division Director, Markem-Imaje explains how CIJ printing continues to provide the flexibility to meet today’s needs.

It is fair to say that the pandemic has taught us some very important lessons when it comes to market dynamics.

Many of the things we are seeing in the ‘new normal’ were on the long-term horizon, some were even medium-term aspirations, but almost overnight, they became instant demands that required instant results.

Online retail exploded as social distancing turned shops and malls into no-go areas. Everything was being sourced online as people rapidly adapted to remote shopping, for even the most mundane products.

Fortunately, most online retailers were able to weather the storm and the vast majority of services continued operating, but as is always the case, there were those out to take advantage of the situation and myriad fake and counterfeit goods started appearing. Even Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) products!

A need for greater traceability

This reinforces the need for greater traceability, and not just for high value items. Traceability is common in many industries and regulated in others, but for the vast majority of consumer products it is not mandatory.  Yet these market changes are forcing a growing move to more reliable and traceable coding, which can meet the needs of fast-paced production lines. 

CIJ : achieving versatility

Indeed, according to a recent report by Reportlinker.com, the market for coding and marking equipment initially fell, but then Q1 and Q2 2020 saw demand spike in the pharma and healthcare sectors as PPE authenticity became a necessity. The report also explains how the food and beverage is benefiting from coding advances, as are the cosmetics and personal care sectors which are using coding solutions on a vast array of packaging formats and materials.

Companies are also evolving their operations, sourcing more energy-efficient machinery and equipment, phasing out energy-intensive processes and sourcing suppliers that offer more sustainable systems and consumables.

It is in the middle of these intensive sets of demands that we find CIJ holding a well-deserved position as a technology that continues to adapt to these changing dynamics.

40 years of CIJ

CIJ reaches its 40th anniversary this year and is widely and highly successfully deployed in many industries. Much of this success comes from it being a straightforward addition to most production systems. In addition to simply applying coding and traceability information, CIJ does so reliably, which prevents rejects, further reducing wastage. What is more, modern coding machines can keep pace with the fastest production lines, so throughput and efficiency are maintained.

Finally, coding hardware and consumables have also undergone a renaissance in their development. In addition to developing inks that can handle a much wider array of substrates, we have far more energy efficient printing systems too. These, in turn, are using far less consumables than before and can also exploit the greener credentials of MEK-free inks, which cut Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) emissions by up to 50%. As a result, manufacturers will have fewer bottles and cartridges to dispose of.

Product traceability is going to gain a lot more traction over the next few years and will encompass a far wider spread of products and markets, as companies improve their efforts to protect their brands. Parallel with this will be new sustainability measures and international mandates.  In the background, we at Markem-Imaje will be working hard, as always, to ensure that our CIJ solutions continue to meet the changing needs of today’s marketplace, wherever you are in the world.
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