Forest2B

Forest Products

All forest products have this in common: tracking labels and tags must perform in extreme environmental conditions. Those printed on site are printed in difficult conditions. Which plastic can be stapled onto studs or loads without breaking? Which adhesives stick to wood but won’t damage a printer? What tag or label material will hold up in a kiln? Pointil has provided solutions to all of these issues for 20 years.

UPC Stud tags and UPC stud labels are applied by the manufacturer for the convenience of identification and pricing at the retail level.

UNIT/LOAD TAGS AND LABELS

Unit/load tags are used to identify and track in process and finished units of lumber in a mill. Each time a unit is moved from one stage to another, the bar code on the unit is scanned to update location, order status and/or inventory status. As the unit is removed from its existing location, it is removed from inventory. When the unit is placed in the new site, the unit is reentered into inventory, listing the new location. Each step in the process is a cost center. The bar code is scanned at each step to measure accumulated costs as well as tracking location. Each time a unit of lumber changes configuration, a new bar code tag is printed and the old label/tag is scanned and disposed to update the inventory change.

Unit tags are exposed to heavy moisture, cold and hot temperatures, direct sunlight, heat from the kiln and turbulence during highway transit. These conditions require certain material and ink considerations. The key is to have a durable material, either a non-adhesive poly tag or for shipping units or a pressure sensitive label is optional for shrouded units. Additionally, fade resistant ink is recommended to prevent fading in direct sun light. Frequently tags are color stripe coded by season or species. Another identifying print feature is the use of an “aging print strip” printed in fade ink. This provides an immediate visual indicator of loads that have been in inventory an extended period of time.

Pointil Systems has developed a unique poly material for unit tags. This material can withstand the rigors of stapling and air turbulence during transit. It is dimensionally stable preventing the stretching of bar codes and can be printed with a wax ribbon, increasing your savings.

LOG TAGS

Log tags are used to identify a log from the time it is cut down until it is sawed at the mill into dimensional lumber, converted into other products, or shipped overseas. This allows the mill to process logs on a first-in first-out basis resulting in reduced kiln drying time, and better inventory yield in production through the accurate matching of dimensional lumber requirements to log specifications.

The log tag is stapled to the end of the log immediately upon cutting the tree down. Once cut, logs are trucked to a log scaling station. At the scaling station, the bar code on the log tag is scanned to create an inventory number. Information (species, length, diameter at ends, grade, defects, deductions, wood lot, crew, trucker, landowner, scaler, date, etc.) is tied to the bar code number for each log. With this information, the value of each log can be determined.

At the mill the logs may be stored outside for up to 6 months. If the logs are stored in stacks, they are sprayed regularly with water to promote natural aging and/or drying. In some areas like the Northwest, the logs are sometimes stored in water (river or lake).

The tag must be able to survive rough handling, outdoor exposure, strong air currents (from highway transportation), significant moisture and direct sun exposure, and continue to read bar codes flawlessly. There are a variety of materials available which will sustain the conditions to which the tags are exposed. Most tags are made from a rigid, synthetic material. Some companies are concerned about the capability of the tag to go through the pulping process at a paper mill. In this case, a pulp-able product must be used and will not be laminated but will be varnished. In most cases, over lamination is recommended to protect the information on the tag. With the rough handling and conditions, the bar codes could be scuffed beyond use. With pulp-able choice materials, varnish is used instead of lamination. It provides inferior protection compared to lamination, but is better than no protective cover.

Special tear-away perforations allow handlers to remove tag sections. Because handlers are always wearing safety gloves, it is awkward to remove sections of perforated plastic with conventional perforations. Because of the extended exposure to direct sunlight, fade resistant inks are recommended. Most of these products are preprinted for manual use since it is difficult to have a printer in the outside that could produce a durable tag. Color changes and/or prefix (alpha) changes are used to identify season-to-season changes. Sections can have bar codes, human readable or preprinted information or a combination of these. Traditional numbering methods use alpha/numeric characters in the human readable but numbers only in the bar code. This is a restriction based upon the traditional use of Codabar barcode symbology in the industry. Codabar symbology only utilizes numbers.

KILN TAGS

Because lumber kilns operate for extended periods of time at temperatures in excess of 180F, normally a special poly tag material is required. If the existing tag is not designed for use in the kiln, the tag must be removed and a new kiln compatible tag applied. In addition, a compatible heat resistant ribbon must be used to prevent the printed image from melting in the kiln otherwise the image could distort the bar code making it unscannable. Preprinted artwork should be printed with heat resistant inks to prevent deterioration in the kiln.

For nearly 20 years, Pointil Systems has manufactured heat compatible kiln tags either blank or pre bar coded.

STUD TAGS AND STUD LABELS

UPC Stud tags and UPC stud labels are applied by the manufacturer for the convenience of identification and pricing at the retail level.

Stud Tags
If lumber is being produced for inventory, the studs may be individually identified at a later date “off line” by hand held applicator devices. Normally plastic tags are applied in this process. Stud tag applicator guns like Timber Tagger or Fast Tagger work best when the plastic tag material is more rigid and cuts crisply. Less hydraulic pressure is needed. When softer plastic films are used, the pressure on the tagging device must be increased, sometimes to the point of damaging the tagging device. When this type of damage occurs, it isn’t usually covered by the warranty. These devices advance the tags through a set width channel so if the tag is even .03125” too wide, the tag will not feed through the channel. Under either of these conditions, high skilled labor stops.

Pointil Systems manufactures precise, plastic stud tags with the material that keeps your operation up and running. And, another surprise, you will find our lead times are convenient to you.

Stud Labels
If lumber is being produced for a specific customer, branded UPC stud labels can be automatically printed and applied to the end of studs as they move along a high speed conveyor line. This process can be very productive. It’s a fast but not so easy process. It usually involves spraying a hot melt adhesive onto the end of the stud before applying the adhesive label. The spraying process is messy, requires constant maintenance, and is prone to problems resulting in production line shutdown. The spray-on adhesive is used because the adhesive on labels that can work through a thermal transfer printer are not aggressive enough to stick to the rough end of a stud. Conversely, label adhesives that are aggressive enough to stick to the end of the stud, will gunk up the thermal transfer printer.

What to do? Pointil has developed labels that stick to studs, allowing mills to shut off the hot melt adhesive spraying device. Call Pointil Systems and find out how we have created a stud label that can work for you.

PAPER ROLL LABELS

Paper roll labels were historically imprinted with line printers onto fanfold dry gum paper. With more demands being put on automated tracking more and different bar codes are being implemented. Bar code quality is much better with thermal transfer printing. As a result of transitioning to wide format thermal transfer printers there has also been a transition to pressure sensitive label material (traditional dry gum material is not compatible with thermal transfer printing).
Automatic label application of pressure sensitive labels is more complicated. Very specific perfs are needed. The adhesive needs to be aggressive but release from the liner easily.

By transitioning to pressure sensitive label material, paper mills can provide “seated” labels within the roll label for their customer’s use. The “seated” label is a label within a label. When the roll label is automatically applied, an area of the liner remains with the label and is trapped behind the label when applied to the roll of paper. Subsequently, a customer can remove this small “seated” label which contains information about the roll, and reapply it to the roll after it has been partially used for future tracking and identification. It is a terrific customer benefit being demanded by more and more customers. The only complication is that having a large hole in the liner, makes the automated label application process more difficult with a structurally compromised liner.

Call Pointil Systems. We have the experience to make your automated label application work up to your expectations.

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