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Printing in manufacturing and logistics

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You may not have heard of Printronix, but the company is a global leader in line matrix printing and is on a mission to bring new, exciting opportunities to industrial printing.

Printronix manufactures a line of heavy-duty impact printers, used across the globe in automotive, retail, food & beverage, pharma distribution, transportation & logistics enterprises, government services and utilities. “For nearly 50 years Printronix has been a global provider of industrial print solutions, with a direct market presence in North America, Latin America, Europe, Middle-East, Africa, China, South-East Asia, Korea, Taiwan and India,” says CEO Werner Heid, explaining that the company’s solutions are designed for mission-critical applications, especially in harsh environments.

Key applications include just-in-time build sheets for production (automotive) and documentation for the last mile (from palette configuration to the truck) in the warehouse environment. Printronix operates in an environment where its customers strive for continuous productivity improvements, in order to support continuous supply chain growth without increasing warehouse production space and costs.

“Some of our customers are telling us that post-pandemic, volumes are up as much as 30%,” continues Heid. “However, in these highly uncertain times, they shy away from major investments in increased physical capacity. Instead, they are looking for ways to accommodate increased demand with improved efficiency from existing assets. These requirements are the primary driver of Printronix’s future growth and development plans.”

Heid explains that one solution is the use of colour, instead of black and white printing, allowing customers to increase warehouse material labelling efficiency. Many warehouses have started to adopt colour, as well as use cloud-based print usage data analytics in warehouses and production to increase productivity and/or reduce human error.

New launches

As part of a 3-year growth strategy Printronix is bringing to market new laser and LED models that are designed to work with the same Printronix values as their line matrix printers. Just launched in EMEA are the first two of these industrial laser products, the LP654C and LP844C. According to Heid, line matrix printers provide the ultimate reliability and lowest cost printing in mission critical, industrial environments. Printronix has taken its extensive experience and knowledge in this area and applied it to industrial colour laser printers.

The company’s mission is to bring colour into the industrial space where it can add huge value, while not compromising on the need for low running costs, mission critical reliability and high performance. Furthermore, Heid comments that both the newly launched devices are smaller than “comparable office laser printers” and are designed to work in constrained spaces be it in a production environment, a warehouse or even inside a kiosk or on a rack in the tightest of spaces.

The LP654C is as small as a personal desk top color printer. “Lift it up and its 29.5kg demonstrates why it’s different,” says Heid. “Made with up to 70% more metal than an office printer and correspondingly less plastic the LP654C is twice as durable as typical colour laser printers in the market, with a useful life of 600,000 pages and a maximum duty cycle of 100,000 pages per month when required.”

It’s not just the small size that ensures it can print in constrained spaces. Designed with full front access and highly efficient cooling technology the LP654C only ever needs to be opened from the front for its entire life with only 20mm of space required at the sides of the device. Heid comments that no other laser printer has been designed in this way with at least one other side of the device needed to clear jams, or change different consumables, meaning the LP654C has the smallest operating space requirement of any colour laser, making it ideal for production lines, placing in racks, or inside kiosks where space and access is constrained.

Requiring less space

Heid continues: “The LP654C is the big brother to the LP654C. While it offers A3 capability, it is the smallest A3 colour laser printer in the world. So, these new printers from Printronix require the least space of all comparable colour lasers in the market, yet are twice as durable as typical colour laser printers, there must be some compromises made in other areas, right? Well no. Let’s start with performance. The LP654C prints at 35 pages per minute (ppm) in black and white and full colour, while the LP844C takes this up to 36ppm, so offer workgroup level performance from their desktop size. Far more than comparable printers, even those twice the size.”

There’s certainly no compromise made when it comes to print quality. Thanks to the 1200 x 1200 dpi LED print heads and ProQ multilevel technology, the LP654C and LP844C can be used to create stunning output, which can be used for customer facing marketing purposes or to provide the greatest clarity for signage in the warehouse. Industrial robustness does not mean poor output quality.

“It is now time to say colour can improve our business efficiency and can be used cost effectively in the manufacturing and logistics environments.”

However, it is in the flexibility of the media handling where the LP654C and LP844C stand out. With a straight paper path, both printers can easily handle a broad range of media.  From shelf edge labels to A3 GHS labels, from A6 to 1.2meter long banners, from envelopes to insert slips, waterproof synthetic media to the thickest cardstock these devices can print on a much wider range of media than you have come to expect from laser-based devices.

“And, coming from Printronix, not only are these printers compact, flexible and high-performance with great print quality, they are also ultra-durable, and offer unrivalled cost of ownership,” says Heid. “Separate drums and toners, as well as fully end-user replaceable fusers and belts, mean optimum consumables usage and no unpleasant surprises.”

The game has changed

Heid concludes: “Many in the manufacturing and logistics space’s first reaction is ‘We don’t need colour, it’s too expensive’. This is based on what has been available before. Colour printers were always compromised. Small printers lacked performance and were expensive to run. Large printers would not fit in constrained spaces and were expensive to buy. None could print effectively on the range of media the LP654C and LP844C can, and none were targeted at harsh environments where Printronix has always operated with its line matrix devices. The game has changed. It is now time to say colour can improve our business efficiency and can be used cost effectively in the manufacturing and logistics environments. Color is here. You will be pleasantly surprised at what you see.”