Monthly Archives: May 2010

Thermal Transfer Barcode Labels?

We do a lot of employee training to develop our employees with the right skills to answer any customer call. Below is a caption of a new employee experience with our training and roll play customer preparing them for the job. The following is the employees experience:

One word or phrase can turn a days worth of work into a very valuable learning experience.  In the label industry, as I am sure in any other industry the use of numbers or alpha letters in part numbers can lead to a very crucial mistake.

This is my experience from today.  It started with my roll play customer calling saying that the product inside the case was wrong, but the part number on the outside of the case was correct.  Well something like this can end badly with losing a customer that has been with us since 2005.  Although in today’s world losing one customer can mean the difference to everyone’s bottom line. 

This customer called saying that he received the wrong product in the case, The customer claimed they could not print on the labels at all. This led me to asking a list of questions. One of the questions; “What did the label do when it was exposed to an open flame that touched its surface?” Direct Thermal will turn black where the flame touches the label. Unlike “Thermal Transfer labels” which will not react to heat.  This is because direct thermal is a heat sensitive label and the printer head will burn the image onto the label.  Whereas thermal transfer uses ribbons and the ribbons can come in a variety of colors.  So back to the story, I had asked the gentleman what he needed and he said thermal transfer which has the part number 4060DD1T10. What does the product do when a flame is touched to the label?  He told me that it turns black. This indicates it is a direct thermal label clarifying the customer did receive the wrong item, and that part number is 4060DD1D10.  So naturally I call my warehouse and make a big stink and tell them that they mis-marked a case of labels and that I want all of our inventory checked.  So now there are a bunch of questions the warehouse is asking me.  You see if you have a thermal transfer printer you can use a direct thermal label.  Well I didn’t know that.  The warehouse person recommended the customer keep the case and the labels should work fine with or without a ribbon.  So finally we had to call the virtual customer back.  After further research and a couple more questions this customer ordered the thermal transfer, but, needed to get the direct thermal.  After another important questions “Like does your printer use ribbon or not?” and how about researching their past orders.  Which, at that point after reviewing the past numbers I would have noticed that one little letter can change everything. 

There were a number of lessons learned in this customer roll play experience. Do you research on the customers past orders, always ask for the exact model of the printer, ask if ribbon is used in the printer, and at last resort, if the label type is not know, use the lighter test. After this experience, our roll play customer had a great educational experience, and our new employee learned a lot about troubleshooting label issues.