CASE STUDY: Greenhouse - Inkjet Control System
A Greenhouse operation that produces a variety of sweet bell peppers approached Z-Tec with an operating problem. The facility also houses a grading and packaging line where the peppers are washed, graded and placed into boxes. Inkjet printers are used to print the pepper's size, variety, packaging date and grower information on the box. The contents of the box are identified by a barcode that is affixed to the box at the grading station and the information can change from one box to the next. Each box needs to be printed on both the front and back.
A printing system, previously installed by a different company, exhibited numerous problems such as:
- Poor or illegible print quality - the supplied print heads could not produce the print quality required by the greenhouse and their customers.
- Missed or misprinted boxes - the decoding of the applied barcodes was unreliable and the control system would often either not print at all or print wrong information.
- No system feedback to the user - the control system had no feedback such as alarms or error logging resulting in the greenhouse being unable to troubleshoot incorrect or missing print.
- Printing on only one side of the box - even though there were two print heads installed with the system, only one functioned correctly.
- Poor customer support
Drawing on extensive experience and excellent working relationship with several inkjet manufacturers, Z-Tec was able to propose a custom designed solution which met the greenhouse criteria.
The solution included several inkjets from different manufacturers with Z-Tec personnel working with the greenhouse personnel to select the best one for the application. The selection criteria included cost, ease of maintenance and quality of print. After finalizing the hardware, Z-Tec personnel created a custom software package designed to the greenhouse specifications and integrated the components into the final Inkjet Control System (ICS).
Z-Tec personnel installed the ICS on schedule prior to grading line start-up and without disruption to greenhouse operation. The installation, including commissioning, was completed in two days. The newly installed Z-Tec custom designed Inkjet Control System remedied all of the problems experienced by the old system.