6 Ways Laser Marking Will Save You Time and Money

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6 Ways Laser Marking Will Save You Time and Money

by Scott Cunningham
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6 Ways Laser Marking Will Save You Time and Money Today’s marking and engraving technology makes it easier to track parts through the manufacturing process and trace them back to their origin. And in a time when product recalls are costing companies millions of dollars, you can look at implementing track and trace marking capabilities like insurance – an investment to protect against current and future risk of losses.

For an increasing number of manufacturers and their suppliers, these losses are the result of inefficiencies and lack of process controls that can often lead to defective materials and products. Traceability uses the latest marking and engraving technologies to perform three important functions: 1) label the part with a unique identifier containing manufacturing data (either human readable or barcode), 2) store that data within your database or ERP, and 3) provide the ability to access that data whenever needed. Advances in communication technology have even enabled marking and engraving systems to integrate directly into factory automation networks using industrial protocol.

Whether or not you’re operating a traceability system right now, you probably know that there are several options available, including laser and dot peen permanent marking systems or non-permanent options such as labels, ink, or tags. While the latter have been go-to solutions in the past, today’s permanent marking technologies ensure that your data remains on your parts from assembly all the way through final delivery to your customers.


Advantages of Laser Marking


Laser marking systems, due to their flexibility and precision, provide a multitude of cost-saving benefits to manufacturers, including:

 

  1. Reduce Human Error

    When your manufacturing process isn’t running like a well-oiled machine, mistakes can be made – costly mistakes. Automated processes like laser marking replace error-prone manual ones, allowing you to capture, store, and manage information automatically and prevent quality issues before they occur.
     

  2. Decrease Recall and Warranty Claim Costs
     

    In the first quarter of 2017, recalls cost brands like Ford Motor Company up to $295 million. As pressure mounts from end users and federal regulatory legislation (such as the TREAD Act [Transportation, Recall Enhancement, Accountability and Documentation] in the automotive industry) to increase traceability, manufacturers’ inaction to improve their track and trace capabilities may prove costly.

    Traceability allows you to accurately analyze root cause of product or part failure to recover costs from liable suppliers as well as show full transparency to regulatory bodies and end-users. Laser marking also protects against counterfeiting and diverted goods because it produces unique permanent marks that help authenticate products.
     

    There are a number of direct and indirect expenses to recalls and warranty claims such as:

    Direct:
    - Removing product from the market
    - Contacting customers
    - Replacing or reimbursing for product
    - Paying legal fees

    Indirect:
    - Brand reputation damage
    - Advertising to recover market share
    - Increased regulatory testing
    - Liability fees

     
  3. Increase Production Speed and Efficiency

    Laser engraving is a fast and simple process. Laser marking does not involve a physical tool impacting the surface, nor does it transmit ink or any other substance onto the surface. Instead, the laser light is focused onto a material, which in turn produces a contrasting mark or a deep mark, depending on the settings you use.

    In recent years, innovative laser marking and engraving technologies have propelled traceability into the next generation. Automated systems allow you to create a unique mark, store data within your database or ERP, and access that data whenever needed. Advanced communication packages enable laser systems to integrate directly into your industrial network. Products like MECCO’s EtherMark can reduce the typical 30-80+ hours of programming and integration work that other marking systems require down to as little as 8 minutes.
     

  4. Minimize Consumables Costs

    Non-permanent marking methods require you to stock materials like ink and solvent, which need to be replaced regularly. In high-volume manufacturing environments, laser marking only costs about $0.02 per mark, compared to $0.07 – $0.09 per mark for ink or labels, according to one 2008 independent study with an automotive manufacturer. Today, the consumable cost for ink or labels will still far exceed the initial cost of a laser.
     

  5. Enhance Mark Quality/Permanence

    Laser marks are more durable and consistently readable than non-permanent marking alternatives for a wide variety of applications, from industrial traceability to branding, on materials such as steel, copper, aluminum, plastic, ceramic, and brass. Lasers can also provide low or high contrast marks to meet your visual standards through a range of settings.
     
  6. Promote Inventory Control

    Once the mark is on the part and linked to the database, it’s connected permanently to your operations. Your database ensures you always know what you have on hand, and that data can be accessed in real time. This eliminates the hours required to dig through aging reports and prevent costly waste or overproduction.

Time is money, and the benefits of laser marking can help you put more of that money to your bottom line.

 
There is a wide range of laser marking products available, depending on your application, materials, integration needs, and other criteria. You and your marking equipment provider should work together to decide if a laser or dot peen marking system will best meet the needs of your operation.

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Scott Cunningham
Inside Sales/Customer Service Manager

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