Companies face an ever-increasing demand for fast, clear communications within their facilities. Whether the need is simple warehouse labeling or a complicated lockout/tagout procedure, accurate, location-specific signs and labels can make an enormous difference in productivity, safety and security. Utilizing a sign and label printing system is one way to cost-effectively and quickly address sign and label needs without sacrificing durability, clarity or professionalism.

At point of need

One power industry study found that 54 percent of errors are a result of inadequate or missing labels.1Onsite sign and label printing systems make it faster and easier to put critical safety and warning information at the point of need, even when those needs change quickly.

Arc-flash labels, right-to-know labels, LO/TO instructions and other safety and warning signs provide vital information employees need in order to perform their tasks safely and efficiently. Providing this information in a timely fashion, in turn, reduces the potential for errors, increasing productivity and helping avoid disabling and even tragic accidents as well as huge potential losses for a company.

As an added benefit, clear, up-to-date safety signs and labels can help ensure that your facility is compliant with OSHA and ANSI requirements, as well as meeting the certification needs for 5S, Six Sigma, Kaizan, Kanban and other quality assurance programs.

Available immediately

In the past, companies relied on custom sign shops for signs and labels that could withstand harsh environments and that would meet OSHA and other compliance standards. These signs could take a week or more to arrive, leaving companies with hand-written signs, or no signs, in the interim. Current sign- and label-making systems can stand up to industrial environments and can print on high-quality industrial materials, ensuring signs and labels are professional-looking, long-lasting, easy to read and available immediately.

Addressing sign and label needs as they arise means less time is wasted in placing sign orders. Signs can be changed as situations change, ensuring current and accurate information. For many companies, security is an enormous concern, especially when signs may contain proprietary information. In-house sign and label systems keep vital company information only in the hands of authorized personnel.

Of course, one of the most compelling reasons to purchase an onsite sign and label printing system is cost. Signs printed with an onsite system typically cost much less on a per-sign basis than those produced at custom sign shops. For example, a 6”x4” sign made on a benchtop printing system costs about $14 less per sign than its custom sign shop equivalent, while a 2.25”x14” pipe marker costs about $7 less, and a 4”x5” magnetic sign costs $23 less. Depending on a facility’s needs and printing volume, an onsite system can pay for itself in a remarkably short time.2

Choosing a system

Many sign and label printing systems are available, each offering different advantages in terms of portability, print speed, material capacity, color printing, and sign design options. You may also need to consider the areas of the facility that will most frequently require custom signs and labels. Some applications to consider include:
  • Pipe markers
  • Arc-flash labels
  • Electrical circuit ID
  • Lockout/tagout instructions
  • Machine guard labels
  • Datacomm labeling
  • Warehouse and inventory labels
  • Glow-in-the-dark exit path markings
  • General facility ID and signs
  • OSHA and ANSI warnings.
Portable vs. benchtop printers— Many systems can accommodate a variety of sign sizes and materials, including pipe markers, magnetic signs and photoluminescent (glow-in-the-dark) materials. Some facilities may find that a combination of handheld and benchtop printers will meet their needs for both onsite facility and safety markings, and their staff who may need to complete datacomm, electrical or inventory labels in the field.

Figure 1. 2”x4” generic arc flash label — printed on an onsite industrial label maker; meets all NEC requirements; label materials available in 10-packs or 100-label rolls.

Materials and applications— Labels must be able to withstand their usage environment. This means that the print should not fade, and adhesive should be aggressive enough to avoid peeling. The arc-flash labels shown inFigure 1andFigure 2are printed on a durable polyester base that is over-laminated to protect the text and graphics. The back of the labels also employs an acrylic adhesive, which allows the labels to be securely and permanently affixed to a wide range of surfaces. Look for a printer that will accept a wide range of material sizes and styles. In the case of photoluminescent materials, the glow-in-the-dark materials must meet current local and national standards for the brightness and durability of required exit path markings.

Figure 2. 3.5”x5” arc flash labels with pictogram — identifies when the hazard is present and the potential magnitude of risk.

Easy solutions— Any onsite labeling system should be intuitive and easy to use. Many systems offer sign templates, graphics, and design and editing features that make it fast and easy to create and print signs and labels. Choose a system that offers optional software packages to expand your system’s capabilities and offers access to graphics, pictograms and additional sign and label templates.

Take control

By using an onsite sign and label printing system you can save time and money on every sign while delivering clear, concise information when and where it is needed to improve safety, increase productivity, and meet compliance and quality standards. Industrial-strength materials and printers enable users to meet needs for years to come, taking advantage of sign-making software, templates and other applications that will increase their system’s versatility and deliver new ways to improve facility identification.