They are often barely visible, yet are very important especially in the case of technical products: labels, which provide information about the product’s features. Without them, the products cannot be identified and in the worst case may be dangerous if used incorrectly. It is therefore all the more important that the labelling provides information about the most important details – as is the case with Festo products.
Products with a complex identity
At Festo, product labels always contain four basic elements, which are used to clearly identify the product: the logo, the type code, the part number and the serial number. In addition, there is the product key, an 11-digit number, which can also appear on product labelling as a data matrix code. The product key refers the customer to a database entry, which is unique in each case and, besides the complete type code, also includes the precise date of manufacture, for example. Manuals or software updates can also be retrieved using this code. Particularly when reordering configurable products such as a valve terminal, a precise means of identification is important.
Special certification symbols and additional information also quickly show whether a product is suitable for the specific application. One example is potentially explosive areas: only components that do not pose an ignition hazard are allowed to be used here. The so-called ATEX approval certificate shows, on the product itself, for which hazard zones and ambient temperatures it may be used.
From production to the end user
Yet product labelling is not only helpful for end customers. It is relied on even at the production and logistics stages. Many products look the same from the outside, but differ considerably from each other on the inside. The product key enables a product to have a paperless and safe passage through the production process. At each workstation, it can be uniquely identified by the machine-readable data matrix code using a camera and the necessary work steps can be initiated. In this way, the correct components are always fitted.
Gluing or direct labelling
Product labelling can be applied using various technologies. The most widespread method is the thermal transfer adhesive label, where heat is used to bond the printing ink with the name plate, which is usually made of plastic. The process is cost-effective and flexible, and the labels are very durable. If the requirements are higher – for instance, in the process industry or food industry –other technologies are available such as marking with a laser or using digital printing.