Early on, the manufacturer considered color as a way to distinguish between locations. However, trials with colored paper failed to solve the problem.
Likewise, experimenting with colored totes for shipments or sealing shipments in colored plastic wrap were expensive options and not acceptable to the customer.
"The customer was not excited about lots of colors coming in because they already use lots of color in their facilities," Thompson said.
Master Machine turned to Peak Technologies, a supply chain automation company that provided the company's thermal printing labels. Peak recommended labels with IQ Color direct thermal ink technology from Zebra Technologies.
Compatible with Master Machine's existing Zebra thermal printers, Zebra's IQ Color offered just the right solution to the company's challenge. Using direct thermal ink technology, patented IQ Color goes right into Master Machine's printers. It's a flexible, efficient and accurate alternative to methods such as using preprinted color thermal media, laser or ink jet printing, separate color labels, or color markers.
During label manufacturing, Zebra applies up to four invisible ink colors to the zones that Master Machine designated. The printer heat-activates the ink to make select colors visible as the applica¬tion requires. It can reveal the color in the form of shapes, text, graphics or reverse images. Now, Master Machine prints cyan on the labels for all shipments that go to its client's main location. The company chose which parts of its existing label configuration to enhance with color, in this case the name of the customer, the destination, and purchase order and part numbers all print in color.
"The color is a very easy visual for shipping staff," Thompson said.
With heat-activated color, if desired, the company can print non-color labels and then switch to color labels from one print run to the next, without removing the labels.