A steel manufacturer wanted to automatically apply a unique bar code label to large steel coils in order to trace material lots and to track inventory. Oil and dust on the surface of the steel prevented application of a label directly onto the coil and necessitated the placement of the label onto a 1/2-inch steel band that secured the coil. Because the steel coils varied in diameter from 40 to 70 inches the securing band was never in the same location on the coil. The labeling system had to be able to operate around-the-clock in a steel mill environment where heat and dust easily damage electronics and machinery. Additionally the system had to be integrated into an existing Allen Bradley network for data interchange and Input/Output signals.
The FOX IV solution was to provide a complete turnkey system. First the system required a custom applicator arm mounted on a standard FOX IV label printer applicator to address the label placement issue. FOX IV designed a custom label that could withstand the rigors of a steel-manufacturing environment and, despite the size necessary to fit on a 1/2-inch band, be printed with the bar code data. In order to solve the problem of the coil size differences, two automatic sensing systems were installed; one sensor determined the width of the coil and one located the 1/2-inch steel strap. The compatibility issue was handled with a software interface package. Also provided was a Windows-based computer. Finally two FOX IV stainless steel environmental enclosures were installed to protect the hardware from the rigors of the harsh environment.