Panel Builder System Integrator

Phoenix Contact

February 5, 2018

Clear and consistent marking is becoming increasingly important across all industries – and more and more businesses are opted to implement this. Because manufacturing is becoming increasing decentralized, marking systems must be able to move with it. Phoenix Contact’s new portable, hand-held marking devices optimize labeling on-site.

Marking all terminal blocks, leads, devices, and systems is especially useful in ensuring quick and efficient installation of control cabinets, machines, and other equipment. Professional labeling is also important in terms of maintenance and repairs in that it helps to significantly reduce machine and system downtimes when faults occur. Furthermore, inadequate or lack of labeling makes it difficult to localize faults, which raises production costs as a result of longer downtimes.

That is why consistent marking should be a core component of the maintenance and quality management concept when planning machines, systems, and buildings, seamless – not only because of the economic advantages this brings, but, increasingly, because it is necessary for legal compliance.

Marking must become more portable

Once the marking plan has been prepared for a given application, the user has several options. Many businesses print most of the labels they need centrally on desktop printing systems – often in special marking rooms. The marking plan shows what labeling will be needed on-site. However, this approach can lead to errors, since the centrally created labels do not match the needs of the application in every case. In many instances, labels must be not only checked and verified on site, but sometimes re-printed as well, which takes time and costs money.

As manufacturing becomes more and more decentralized, considerations such as flexibility and mobility are becoming increasingly important for industrial labeling as well. In a decentralized marking solution, production stations are outfitted with printing systems and corresponding labeling material. This allows staff to use the printing system directly to generate the required labels. The main advantages of an on-site solution are the short distances and time saved.

The disadvantages of such a marking solution are cost-related – each local printer requires a PC with labeling software. Such a decentralized printing system also needs to be fast and user-friendly.

This flexibility is an advantage not only in manufacturing, but also in industrial maintenance and repair. More and more users are looking to carry out increasingly complex projects directly in the field in order to save time and money. This cannot be easily done with traditional hand-held printing systems, however, and entering data is only possible to a limited extent. Unless marking software is fully integrated, the user has to compromise in terms of flexibility over ease of use or vice versa. The classic hand-held device also works only with roll materials. This limitation means that it is often not possible to label many components in the control cabinet once they have been installed.

New solution for portable, on-site marking

To meet the needs described above, Phoenix Contact is now launching the Thermomark Prime thermotransfer printing system. It is a portable card printer that can be employed in stationary or mobile applications. The Clip Project marking software can be used to control the printer as you would any standard desktop printer. It fulfills all the requirements of a stationary printing system – and can also be used on the go.

In the field, labels can be printed on any available marking material without the need for an additional PC. Integrated marking software supports the process, and data is entered directly on the anti-reflective seven-inch touch display.

An integrated mouse and keyboard port has been provided in order to make it easier to print large numbers of labels. This allows complex projects to be completed with ease. Users who have already created projects using the Clip Project software can transfer data over one of the five interfaces – an SD card, for instance – to the Thermomark Prime and print labels in the field.

In mobile use, the printer is powered by a high-performance battery that allows up to six hours of data entry and up to seven hours of operation in stand-by mode. As many as 500 UCT (Universal Card Thermotransfer) cards can be printed on a single charge. Phoenix Contact’s UCT cards are made of polycarbonate – labels for conductors, terminals, and systems are printed on them using thermotransfer ink ribbons.

Can be used anywhere

Because the Thermomark Prime’s ink ribbon is integrated into a cartridge, changing ribbons takes only ten seconds. To ensure that the right ink ribbon is used for each material, the ink ribbon cartridges have a bar code on them. Its compact design also means that the printer weighs only six kilograms, making it the smallest portable card printer on the market. While it may be small, it can still work with more than 600 different marking materials, including a wide range of self-adhesive and US (Universal Sheet) format labels.

In addition, Phoenix Contact also offers the hand-held Thermofox portable printer, which is even more compact than the Thermomark Prime. While the Thermomark Prime is primarily designed to print cards, the Thermofox can also print shrink tubing, adhesive labels, and non-adhesive labels on rolls that are then applied as needed. Its compact shape and size mean it is easy to carry.

For more complex marking projects, the Thermofox can also be connected via the USB port to a PC and thus to the Clip Project software. Data is entered on the computer for added convenience.

Work well together

The USB interface also allows the Thermofox to communicate directly with its big brother, the Thermomark Prime. This enables the two printers to function as a closed, battery-driven roll-fed/card printing system in the field. The two printers make it possible for Phoenix Contact to offer new solutions for portable marking on site – also in combination with a stationary printing system – that are easier to use and more flexible.

More information

www.phoenixcontact.ca/rtmprinters

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