For more than six decades, Texas Instruments has created milestone innovations, including the first commercial silicon transistors, the first integrated circuit, and the first electronic handheld calculator. Founded in the 1930’s as Geophysical Service, which used seismology to find oil, TI has evolved to become the world leader in digital signal processing and analog technologies – the semiconductor engines of the Internet age. They provide solutions for large markets such as wireless and broadband access and for new emerging markets such as digital cameras and digital audio.
TI took a new lead in the semiconductor industry by implementing 2D symbology worldwide for product tracking and genealogy. It didn’t happen over night; it took years of planning before it became fully integrated.
By 1990, just five years after implementing the system, TI knew they needed to investigate a different technology so they could continue to meet their customers’ needs. The search led them to 2D symbologies. The semiconductor, electronics, and automotive industries were working on labeling standards at the same time and TI worked with these groups to ensure their solution would be compatible.
TI’s 2D product labeling specification took its final shape in 1997, soon after the first industry standards were completed. Datamatrix symbology was adopted and then refined to meet rigorous requirements from small integrated circuit and wafer marking to product package labeling. January 1, 2000 was chosen as the date to completely integrate the new system into product packaging worldwide.
But before they could begin rolling out the program, they had to find a printer that could meet the requirements of the system.
The Brady Corporation, TI’s service and solutions provider, conducted a complete product analysis of printers to best meet TI’s 2D labeling needs. After evaluating all the printers on the market, they recommended Intermec EasyCoder® 3440 printers.
“We reviewed the qualification data from Brady and compared the strengths and weakness of the different brands of printers,” said Dan Wikander, Manager Delivery Automation Business Systems (Auto Track, B2B-JIT, Logistics, Packaging) for TI Semiconductor Group. “Not only did the Intermec printers deliver everything we needed, but the cost point was good. They were by far the best value.”
They phased in the new printers on a quarterly basis over the next two years. During the integration period they experienced a couple minor glitches between the symbology and the printer. “We had to install new EPROMS worldwide twice, but the process was very clean,” said Wikander. “Intermec provided the new EPROMS and all we did was replace them using their installation procedure which was very easy.”
By August 1999, the 2D Auto Track system had been linked to TI’s corporate-wide SAP implementation, the printers were fully integrated, and they took the system live – ahead of schedule. TI became the first semiconductor company to implement 2D symbology worldwide. Every workstation at every plant, assembly site, and shipping location uses the same Intermec printer model to print both manufacturing (product package) & shipping (freight carton) labels for TI internal & customer applications. The 3440’s 400 dpi resolution ensures singlescan readability of the symbology and allows TI to put 1D and 2D symbology on the labels as well as human-readable text with no loss of printing speed.
“The savings are over $130,000 annually and that’s just on labeling costs because we’re printing smaller and fewer labels,” said Wikander. “By putting the moisture data on the same label we’re saving $100,000 or more per year.”
The new technology has proved to be a huge success and a win-win for everyone. TI is providing product tracking and genealogy trace systems extending across the supply chain for all of their customers. And the Intermec printers have proven they can accommodate the growing needs of the system.
“Another measure of success, and probably a more important one, is you go back to all the people who use the equipment and ask them if they’d rather go back to where they were a year ago,” said Wikander, “and we can’t find one at TI who would. That’s a great measure of success.”
Texas Instrument’s mention of suppliers, solutions providers, and products are not an endorsement for these products and services.
© 2013 Honeywell International Inc.