Factors to consider when choosing a thermal label printer

Providing customers with unrivalled and reliable customer service is a high priority to the transportation and logistic industry. Thermal label printers are an integral part of your workflow, producing shipping and identification labels that make efficient transportation and distribution operations possible. When shopping for a thermal label printer, differentiating between printers on the market should not be based only on price, but the value that is returned from a printer that is reliable, minimises costs and consistently produces high quality labels.

Ensuring you purchase a printer that provides high return value, paired with low cost of operation, consumables and maintenance is crucial to ensure supply chains run efficiently and goods reach customers on time and with ease.

Consider the following four value points before purchasing a thermal label printer, to ensure you find a solution that provides increased value for your business.

1. Easy to setup and use

A printer that is easy to set up and easy to use will increase workflow and add value to your supply chain. Whether you are looking to purchase a printer for your own deport, or you manage a fleet of printers at your customer's sites, it is essential that your printer is fast and efficient.

In shipping operations, it is common for multiple printers to be installed to support different transportation companies. Therefore, it is essential that your printer surpasses your competitor's and stands above from the rest. Users will favour the printer that provides the fastest labelling solution, doesn't jam and provides clear instructions and error messages.

Also, in a busy warehouse environment, a printer that is easy to set-up is essential. A printer that does not require extensive set up time can be effortlessly re-located to temporary packaging and label stations within a warehouse during busy periods. The closer the printer is installed to where the labels are needed, will reduce the chance of the incorrect labels being applied to packages.

Another way to guarantee a printer is always close is by choosing a mobile printing option. Mobile Thermal Printers may be small in size, but not in features. Lightweight enough to be carried around all day and small enough to clip onto your belt or attached to a forklift these mobile devices deliver the convenience and accuracy necessary to increase worker productivity and reduce costs associated with downtime. Mobile printers can also be linked to your smart IOS or Android device, housing warehouse operation systems in a mobile format will support high quality label printing on demand.

Mobile printers are easy to use and will add value to a busy transportation depot or warehouse.

2. Speed and Performance

Productivity is paramount for shipping labelling operations, where workers are on tight schedules to meet pickup deadlines. It is important your Thermal Printer is able to perform at optimum speed. The 'time to first label out' or also referred to as 'first label out' is an important measure when considering the speed of your printer. This method measures the amount of time workers will have to wait for printed labels after hitting print. If speed is a critical value point, consider thermal printers that are specifically designed to print labels instead of documents, as they excel at first label out and will increase efficiency within your supply chain. There is a wide variety of high quality Thermal Printers on the market, leading Thermal Printer brands include Datamax-O'Neil, Honeywell, Zebra, Bixolon, Intermec and CV Valentin.

Choosing the correct Thermal technology can heavy impact the speed of your printer. Thermal Transfer technology uses a ribbon which melts onto the surface to form an image on the label. This technology must be run at a lower speed to reduce the risk of ribbon wrinkle issues. Alternatively, Thermal Direct technology prints directly onto the adhesive label without the need for a ribbon, allowing the printer to be executed at high speeds. Thermal Direct technology is most appropriate when the label's life is short or the product is stored at low temperatures, away from direct sunlight, making it a popular choice within the transport and logistics industry.

For high-speed, high-volume applications an Industrial Model printer makes good economic sense such as the Honeywell PD45 or the Zebra ZT231. When compared to models in the Economy Model range, Industrial Range printheads heat up faster and work for longer at higher print-speeds (also referred to as maximum speed) increasing speed and efficiency within your supply chain.

3. Maintain to Minimise Downtime

Thermal label printers are designed for durability and produce millions of shipping labels over their lifecycle. Correct maintenance procedures of your printer throughout its life with reduce breakdowns and promote long term savings. Minor maintenance activities regularly completed throughout your printer's life will keep it working at a high performance level. Cleaning the printhead, platen roller, media path and peel-off roller with a solvent containing isopropyl after every roll of media will maximise uptime and increase the life of your printer.

4. Partner with industry experts to keep operational costs low

Ensuring that your supplier is able to foster a partnership that goes beyond a sale or transaction is an important point of value to consider. This should include providing ongoing technical support throughout your printer's lifecycle and ensuring you have a prompt resolution should a problem occur.

Due to general wear and tear over time, there are some parts of a printer which will need to be replaced. The two key consumable parts within any thermal printer are the platen roller (a plastic roller which ensures the label is being applied to the print head with pressure) and also the print head. insignia stocks a full range of replacement parts and the prices vary depending on the make and model of your thermal printer. We recommend replacement parts are installed by a qualified service technician either on-site or at the insignia national service centre.

insignia's Support Technicians are qualified and trained to check key indicators of future failure so to predict if parts are likely to fail and so plan a maintenance schedule to prevent future stoppages. Planning your maintenance schedule in advance will avoid unexpected costs and ensures your supply chains run efficiently, and allows you to plan your maintenance budgets in advance.

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