I think we, as a society, underestimate the value of a good label. Labels keep us organized, as individuals and businesses. They are also one of the most valuable sources of information we have today. I know that may sound silly given our access to infinite digital data. But where do you think digital data systems are getting their information? In many cases, from labels.
Current product pricing, availability, expiration, and ingredient information are all derived from labels. The location of a package or piece of evidence is tracked via the label on that item, as is the location of medical equipment and even patients. (Wristbands are just labels in a different form.) The status of a blood specimen sent to the lab for testing, the ingredients (and potential allergens) in pre-made foods, and the contents of prescription bottles are all shared via labels.
Without labels, we would be living in the dark ages – oblivious to what we’re consuming, how much things cost and when products are set to expire. We would have no direction on where to look for items because nothing would be labeled – the room, aisle, shelf, or item – whether looking for a blood specimen, box of pasta or specific pill bottle. And we certainly wouldn’t know where a package was in transit. Perhaps even more frightening is that, without accurate labels, we wouldn’t be able to correlate certain blood products to donors or recipients or keep track of which evidence supports which case. In fact, “ownership” would be difficult to decipher in any situation – whether in a retail, healthcare, or government or personal setting. So, when I say that more value needs to be assigned to a good label (and a good label printer) you can see why. The loss of labeling capabilities could prove just as catastrophic as a mass internet outage in many instances.
What Makes a Label Printer “Good”?
It can be easy to assume that all label printers are created equal, especially when you’re comparing what many consider to be “standard” 2-inch label printers. But they’re not. That’s because each label is unique in its purpose and production mechanism. The type of 2-inch label you print for pharmacy bottles will not be the same type of 2-inch label you need for patient records. Likewise, you may need to use a 2-inch label printer to generate patient ID wristbands.
That doesn’t mean that you need a special printer for each labeling application, though. In fact, the best way to generate labels for multiple applications is to use a small desktop printer that allows you to quickly swap out the media when you need to switch from printing one type of label to the next, whether you need barcoded labels, patient wristbands or even RFID labels.
That’s why we developed the Zebra ZD411 and ZD611 2-inch desktop printers, which are now available worldwide in thermal transfer, direct thermal, healthcare and RFID models. We know those of you in…
healthcare need a printer that increases label/data capture accuracy, reduces overall operational costs and elevates patient care during check-in and triage, at the bedside, in the lab and pharmacy, and throughout the administrative/billing process.
retail need a printer that helps you boost sales, maintain compliance and increase shopper satisfaction with accurate shelf labels and merchandise tags, fast markdowns, and simple tracking of inventory and totes.
hospitality need a way to deliver better guest experiences and increase customer service and loyalty, whether through ticketing, proper food labeling, or access wristbands.
public safety and criminal justice need a way to effectively manage evidence and case files through accurate, always-readable labels that can be printed almost anywhere.
every sector must be able to print labels consistently and without interruption, whether used as product slips or to track documents, parts, or other assets.
With the ZD411 and ZD611 printers, you and your team will get long-lasting desktop printers that will reliably print almost any type of small label or wristband you need to keep your business running smoothly, your employees informed (and stress free) and your customers/patients happy.
What’s so different about these 2-inch label printers?
They’re small – as in the length and width of a typical loaf of bread and around the same weight as the average laptop. This makes it ideal for small workspaces. You can easily transport the ZD411 and ZD611 printers from one workstation to the next or on a cart between patient rooms or store aisles as needed, especially since they have an optional removable battery pack.
They think and move faster than most compact label printers, so you and your team can create more labels in less time. The ZD411 is 20% faster than the ZD410, and the ZD611 is 33% faster than the TLP2824 Plus. So, if you’re using those printers today, you’re going to get an automatic boost in efficiency and output – before factoring the other changes that make use more efficient than ever, such as the color-coded media change guide or the color touch display.
Your front-line workers will be able to setup, use and manage these printers, even if they aren’t super tech-savvy. There’s a mobile app that front-line workers can download to their Android or iOS device to handle printer setup. The app will connect them to the ZD411 or ZD611 printer using a Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) 5 connection and then walk them through the pairing configuration process step by step. Once online, users can refer to the five LED icons on the interface to see if any maintenance actions are needed to keep the printers up and running, such as media replenishment. There’s also a new three-button user interface versus the traditional single-button/single-light interface common with other desktop printers. The goal is to make it easy – and obvious – for printer users when maintenance or troubleshooting is needed. In other words, front-line workers won’t have to rely on IT as much to install and manage every printer your organization buys.
You can also manage the printers remotely if you prefer. Like any technology, there will be times when IT or operations teams need to check in on performance and intervene to assist with an update. With the growing set of Print DNA software available on the ZD411 and ZD611 printers, it’s easy to remote in to check or strengthen security, diagnose issues that front-line workers can’t figure out, or upgrade printer features to support new applications.
You can upgrade the wireless connectivity whenever you want. All ZD411 and ZD611 printers come standard with USB 2.0 and USB Host ports. But if you want to upgrade to 802.11 ac Wi-Fi or Bluetooth 4.1 (dual radio) connectivity later, all you have to do is open the wireless access door located on the bottom of the printer and follow the three easy installation steps to complete the upgrade in the field. The ZD611 printers also come with a factory-installed ethernet and serial port option, and you can add ethernet to your ZD411, just so you know.
You can print, cut and peel more labels than ever. The ZD411 and ZD611 printers offer a new field-upgradeable peeler and cutter that enables you to produce labels less than half an inch long, if needed.
You’ll be able to generate timestamped labels, such as those used on food products, with perfect accuracy. These compact printers have a real-time clock embedded. They also offer plenty of memory. So, you can store all the company and product logos, label designs and datapoints needed to generate different types of labels.
You won’t have to worry about getting new label printers for many years. This will be a one-and-done investment. The ZD411 and ZD611 printers have an exceptionally long lifecycle with low serviceability requirements, which gives you a high return on investment. I mentioned Print DNA before, but this enterprise software suite – which is exclusive to Zebra printers – really does differentiate the ZD411 and ZD611 printers from competitor’s 2-inch label printers. You can read about how it makes your job easier and sustains the printers’ high performance level here.
You won’t have to worry about security breaches, assuming you take full advantage of the included PrintSecure toolset. Printers are a point of vulnerability for many organizations, even small businesses, as they are connected to business systems filled with sensitive data, including customer/patient, inventory, and pricing information. They need to be locked down as well as any other technology system, including mobile devices. That’s why the ZD411 and ZD611 are so different from non-Zebra 2-inch label printers – they have Print DNA, which includes continuously-refined PrintSecure tools designed to help you quickly assess potential vulnerabilities, block unauthorized access, and control data exchanges.
How Printers Underpin Your Business Success
My colleagues and I know that printers aren’t just commodities, and we think you do too. Try to go a day – no, an hour – without using a high-quality printer to generate a label. See what happens and what doesn’t happen. There’s no doubt that your business is as dependent on printers as it is mobile computers, scanners, RFID readers or any other technology you use to automate workflows and improve task accuracy. So, don’t undercut yourself by assuming all label printers can handle the pressure you put on them.
Talk to your Zebra representative about which ZD411 or ZD611 printer may be best for your labeling applications. Then give it a test drive alongside other printers you’re using today or considering for your next upgrade. Note which printer enables workers to get high-quality labels printed fast and which ones get them flustered. Also measure the impact of each printer on IT teams – how many helpdesk tickets are submitted for each printer and how long it takes for each ticket to be resolved. User self-sufficiency is so important to a time-sensitive operation like yours. Every second spent calling someone else for help, looking up instructions or otherwise fussing with the printer is a second lost on revenue-generating, profit-protecting and/or life-saving activities. Likewise, IT needs to be able to get into the printer, figure out what’s going on, apply a fix (if needed) then move on. It shouldn’t be a lengthy process to get – or keep – one printer online.
Make a Small Change to Drive Big Improvements
Do some research on your current printers’ capabilities – talk to your employees, run performance diagnostics, and walk through real-world, label-dependent workflows yourself during your company’s peak period. See what can be working better. Then call your Zebra representative to see how a ZD411 or ZD611 may be able to directly address some of the pain points you identify.
I know that requires a little time and effort. But I would imagine that it will save your front-line workers much more time and effort in the long run, and that’s going to benefit your business by increasing worker availability for revenue-generating tasks and customer service. Taking the time to find the right label printer will also help you issue tickets, process specimens, log evidence, or get food made and shelved faster than ever before – which I know is all you really want.
If you want to talk more about the role a label printer is currently playing in your business and how you could improve its performance with an upgrade to the right printer, you can reach me via email. Or contact your local Zebra representative to find out what small changes you can make to drive big improvements in label-driven processes.
* BLE is provided for using with Zebra printer setup mobile app only