Pipe with OptiCode Barcode

Simple solutions are often favorable, especially in complex situations. Just ask the busy barista how she feels about making an upside-down caramel macchiato versus serving up a black coffee. Sure, the macchiato may be more fun to drink, but it’s going to slow her down and there are more opportunities for mistakes. The black coffee makes her customer happier quicker, with basically no room for error.


InfoSight’s OptiCode® system uses a simple 1D barcode that is the pipe & tube manufacturer’s black coffee. It is a durable, spacing based barcode that is readable after damage because of its simplicity. The barcode contains a Piece Identification Number (PIN) that links back to a database. All relevant information is contained in the database. Data Matrix barcodes, are more like the macchiato, in that they contain a lot of information within the barcode, but are not as reliable when subjected to damage. To combat this, they often include error correction codes so the message can be read when some cells are damaged, and they are usually printed repeatedly along the OD of a pipe.


It is important to identify tube and pipes with barcodes that withstand damage because of the processes they endure after being formed. With the OptiCode® system, tube and pipe products can be marked immediately after being cut and have that identification carry with them throughout the rest of the process. The barcode can be read after being subjected to conveyors, clamping, and straightening. Pipes and tubes will also bang against each other as they are stacked; they’ll be spun, creating friction wherever the OD is touching something, whether it’s a roller or another pipe. All of this creates opportunities for damage to the barcode. The OptiCode® barcode is still readable after almost any type of damage, provided any part of each bar remains. With a readable barcode, a plant can track pipes and tubes through their process. Check out this video that demonstrates the damage an OptiCode® barcode can sustain and still be readable. 


A North American pipe manufacturer recently updated their process from marking all pipes in a batch with the same batch number to marking each pipe with an individual identification number. Previously at other locations, this customer used 2D style barcodes because they can carry a lot of information. However, these codes were easily damaged and were often unreadable. At InfoSight’s recommendation, they decided to adopt the OptiCode® system at this location, and they are now experiencing over 95% successful read rate. The engineer said he would recommend he OptiCode® system because, “It’s simple. It’s durable. It works.”


InfoSight understands the importance of tracking products within an operation, and the specific traceability challenges faced by pipe and tube manufacturers. As the demand for pipe and tube products increases, manufacturers will be busier than ever. Like the busy barista, they need a simple solution with no room for errors. OptiCode® is simply the best traceability solution for pipe and tube manufacturers.

Embed-a-Tag in precast concrete

Conner Sampson, an InfoSight Sales Specialist, says “They seem to do a great job of keeping attendees engaged and active. The show floor always seems to be crawling with people.” He was speaking about his recent experience at The Precast Show in Kansas City, MO.

InfoSight is known to provide identification and traceability solutions to a wide range of harsh environments and is bringing that expertise to the precast concrete industry. InfoSight first attended The Precast Show in 2019. We learned that we could bring a value-added service to precast concrete producers by providing automated and barcoded identification solutions. Conner’s observation of the atmosphere at the show is one of the reasons InfoSight finds it so valuable – we can connect with many current and potential customers to learn about what they need from us.

As an example, we have found that our Embed-A-Tag™ is a great solution for some precast applications. This tag is embedded during casting, and it becomes a permanent part of the concrete product. Other applications require a more innovative solution to attaching the tag, so we are now developing options for them.

All the InfoSight representatives who attended the show agreed on the value of connecting with customers. Brian Schlatterbeck says his favorite part of the show was being recognized by potential customers. Jeff Good adds, “Our products are gaining traction in the industry,” indicating that the value of automatically creating barcoded tags is recognized by concrete producers. Conner adds to this, “With the current labor shortage, printing a batch of tags at the click of a button has never sounded better.”
Identification has always been important. Traceability is now critical and expected. Customers expect manufacturers to have all critical information about any product at their fingertips. InfoSight demonstrated how our durable tags and LabeLase® Printers bring this capability to the precast concrete industry at the Precast Show. We’re looking forward to participating in The Precast Show 2023 in Columbus, OH.

Person welding metal tag to billet

Much of the information about our tags concerns the durability of the tag regarding the temperatures, weather conditions, and chemical exposures the tag and the message survive. Durable identification must also include keeping the tag attached to the product.

InfoSight recommends various attachment techniques based on the material being marked and the way it will be used, stored, or processed. Some of these techniques are permanent, meaning the tag becomes part of the product. Some applications require that the tag must be removable, but only when intended. Many techniques are manual processes, but InfoSight also designs and builds custom equipment that automatically prints and applies tags to products.

InfoSight’s Automation & Engineering group has designed and built automated tagging equipment for over 25 years. The machines include the tag preparation and tag application. Tags are supplied in 300 ft (90 m) rolls. The tag preparation operations are printing and shearing the individual tag from the roll. Pneumatic cylinders and vacuum platens move the tag from the tag prep area to where it is applied to a product. Tag application is usually via nailing or welding.

Typical Attachment Techniques by Industry:

  • Steel & Wire Mills: welding, nailing, wire, hog rings.
  • Fabricators & Galvanizers: welding, wire, hog rings, banding, nut & bolts, magnets
  • Aluminum Mills: embedding
  • Manufacturing: banding, rivets, metal tacks, push pins, embedding, pipe clips, adhesives, magnets
  • Power Generation & Industrial Maintenance: wire, chain
  • Concrete: embedding, press posts, barbed screws, adhesives
  • Life Science: adhesives, wire

InfoSight has worked with customers to modify existing application methods and create entirely new methods when necessary. Your InfoSight representative can help you choose the tag attachment technique that is right for your process.

ViaLabel Laser Marked Cassettes

InfoSight is known for our identification and traceability expertise. This includes our ViaLabel line of products in our Life Sciences Division, headed up by John Redfearn. I sat down to talk to John to learn more about these products and why they are so important.  

 

Our Life Sciences Division got its start when our founder, John Robertson, struck up a conversation with a healthcare supply company executive. He talked about an identification and traceability problem in hospital laboratories. Biopsy and tissue samples were being identified by handwriting, resulting in mix ups and lost samples. Additionally, some of the tissue sample containers were especially difficult to permanently mark, yet their identification is critical to the health care industry and its patients. InfoSight’s solution became our Life Sciences division and ViaLabel products. 

 

The largest segment of ViaLabel is made up of specialty coated cassettes and cassette laser markers. The cassettes are plastic cases used to contain human tissue or biopsy samples as they are prepared for analysis. Other products include items such as glass vials, plastic vials, and test tube inserts that are preprinted with sequential serial numbers and/or barcodes to improve identification and traceability in hospital, research, and storage facility settings.

  

Examples of ViaLabel Products

 

The plastic cassettes are inherently difficult to mark. By nature, the plastic material resists adherence to many types of coating and inks. Furthermore, the cassettes are exposed to a variety of harsh chemicals while the samples are prepared for analysis. Identification must adhere to the plastic, not wipe off or wear off, and survive immersion in chemicals such as formalin, xylene, alcohol, and acids at varying temperatures and concentrations.  Your normal household permanent marker is NOT permanent in this case.  Oddly, a No. 2 pencil is the simplest solution, but handwritten identification is notoriously unreliable. 

   

Barcodes, on the other hand, are a very reliable form of identification, as they are immune from human error. Machines print them and machines read them. The trick was to get the barcode to “stick” to the cassette. InfoSight developed a propriety means to prepare the cassettes so that they can be marked by a laser printer. InfoSight also manufactures laser markers specifically designed to mark these cassettes. Together, they form a reliable identification and traceability system for human tissue samples.

 

InfoSight worked with and partnered with the aforementioned healthcare supply company to bring these cassettes and markers to market.  The exponential growth of this business is directly related to the reliability of the identification. Quality assurance in hospital laboratories was greatly improved, resulting in better care for patients. InfoSight is already looking to the future of this market. Laboratory practices and testing methods evolve and improve; plastics and lasers evolve and improve. Redfearn said, “ We are looking at all of these as growth opportunities as the market changes.”  

 ViaLabel Cassette Laser Marker

The Association of Women in the Metal Industries was formed in 1981 with the mission to promote networking, growth, education, and mentorship of women in the male metals industries. The annual conference was recently held in Orlando, FL, and InfoSight’s Becky Dolan was in attendance. 

Becky has been an active member of AWMI for 21 years. She has held several Columbus Chapter board positions, including a tenure as the chapter President, regional positions, and is currently the International Membership Chair. When asked about why she values her AWMI membership, she says it has been influential in her professional development and is an excellent support network. The education and experiences at AWMI have increased her business aptitude and public speaking abilities. She mentioned how helpful it has been to learn from her counterparts who have successfully navigated difficult situations, which are inevitable in the workplace. Becky encouraged InfoSight to become a corporate member in 2008, and InfoSight continues to reap the benefits of that membership. 

Speaking specifically about the conference, Becky became animated, saying “It was just awesome. We were very busy from morning to night, but it was well worth it. The speakers were amazing and the material they covered was relevant and immediately helpful.”  As International Membership Chair, she was particularly excited about the large number of first time and new member attendees and about awarding milestone achievements to corporate members. 

 

Amanda Zielkowski, Universal Studios Engineering Manager

Two of her favorite events were the behind-the-scenes tour at Universal Studios, along with the follow-up keynote address by the engineers from Universal, and Chad Sheehan who spoke about his S.A.V.E. Yourself Program. During the behind-the-scenes tour at Universal Studios Islands of Adventures, members were treated to up close looks at the operation and maintenance of roller coasters and other rides at the park. The engineers covered the physics calculations necessary to provide the magnetic propulsion for The Incredible Hulk Coaster®. They also explained how they drain all the water from Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls® every night for inspection and maintenance. The following day, Show Producer Shelby Honea and Engineering Manager Amanda Zielkowski addressed the conference and further explained how much engineering and planning goes into providing a safe yet thrilling experience for park guests. 

During an educational workshop, Chad Sheehan spoke to the members about situational awareness and living in a dangerous world. A lifelong law enforcement officer, Sheehan developed the S.A.V.E. Yourself program to train civilians in surviving violent events. Sheehan offered many tips on how to read a situation and react accordingly. Advice ranged from the basic such as pay attention and know where the exits are to more counterintuitive ideas such as not following “the rules” when situations get out of control.

AWMI Steel Panel (left to right): Anna Tomkins, AWMI International Marketing Chair; Robin Rose, SSAB; Beatriz Landa, Novelis; Carmen Pino, Outokumpu. 

Other valuable programming at the conference included a moderated panel discussing the steel industry, leadership training, and an economics panel. Becky returned from the conference invigorated to excel in her role as General Manager, Sales Administration & Market Advancement at InfoSight. As she discussed the conference, it became clear how AWMI mindfully promotes its four pillars – networking, growth, education, and mentorship – for the benefit of all its members. 

Find Becky Dolan on LinkedIn.  

The Incredible Hulk Coaster and Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls are registered trademarks of Universal Studios.

“Everything we do as a company started with a customer that had unique problem that no one else could solve,” says InfoSight President Dave Hudelson.   There isn’t a better way to express InfoSight’s dedication to innovation and to our customers.  This dedication and the way we operate are what set us apart from our competitors

InfoSight is a 100% employee-owned company that provides identification and engineering solutions to industrial and other commercial customers.  Our standard products including an ever-growing line of durable laser printers for laser markable metal tags and histology consumables that provide identification and tracking solutions for extreme conditions. We also have a custom engineering and automation group that designs and builds automated marking machines and provide other custom engineering services.  

Being 100% employee-owned is very important to us at InfoSight.  Every employee is invested in making the right decision for our customers.   The goals we set are important to InfoSight and to our customers.  There is no investment firm or big conglomerate influencing any decisions or policies.  We are always able to put our customers first.  

Innovation is in our DNA.  Most new developments are the result of a customer asking us to solve a problem that no one else was able to solve.  Some of these innovations are wide reaching and can help a lot of customers – like tags that survive temperatures greater than 1800oF (1000oC), or tags that survive the galvanizing process with the message intact.  Others have a much smaller markets like identifying tubular goods that go through reheat furnaces and must have a barcode that is readable from 100 ft (30m) away.  The point is, if a customer has a need, InfoSight has the capability and eagerness to provide a solution.  

Our customers can be confident in choosing InfoSight because we own the solution from start to finish.  We are a vertically integrated company, meaning  we control virtually every step of the process inside our own four walls.  We have a Research and Development group that finds initial solutions.  Our engineering team includes mechanical and electrical engineers who design and are closely involved in the entire build process for each machine.  Fabricators, electricians, and technicians make, assemble, and test our products and machines.  Our Field Technical Service provides long lasting support for both custom and standard products.  When a customer turns to InfoSight, they know there is one point of accountability. 

We take that responsibility seriously, and it doesn’t end when the product or machine leaves our door.  For example, InfoSight introduced automatic barcode identification to steel mills in the 1990's.  One of our first machines is still going strong nearly 30 years later, but with the rapid pace of technological change, certain electrical control components have become obsolete. Mechanically, the marking machine still performs exceptionally well, so when the customer approached us for help in further extending its useful life, our engineers went to work.  The result is a drop-in modern electronics package that will seamlessly integrate with this machine to allow it to run decades to come.  

InfoSight grew from an innovative startup to a reliable and stable company over the last 30 years.  Buzz words like differentiate, vertical integration, and innovation can ring hollow unless there is authenticity behind them.  Time after time, InfoSight has proven to be reliable problem-solvers that support our products for our customers.  These are not empty words at InfoSight.  They are values that are key to our success.  

 

My goal with this blog is to help you learn about InfoSight, and now it’s time to start introducing our employees (I mean owners – we are 100% employee owned!) Today, I’m starting with Joe Morelli, our Director of Laser Printers and Tag Products, and eventually, I’ll help you get to know the people behind our products and services that help you identify and track your assets and products.  

Earlier this week, I had a short conversation with Joe.  My overall impression after talking with him is that he loves his job, but more so, he loves the people he works with, both InfoSight employees and our customers. He repeatedly used the phrase “building relationships”, and the excitement in his voice conveyed the authenticity of the sentiment.  

Joe started by telling me about the company he worked for before coming to InfoSight in 2002.  He was in a position there to form a working relationship with InfoSight’s founder, Dr. John Robertson.  When the company that Joe worked for was sold, it was a natural transition for him to come work at InfoSight as a sales representative.  Joe’s career at InfoSight got off to a quick start, with some big sales right away.  He attributes that to understanding the value InfoSight’s printers and tags would bring to mini mills. 

It’s actually quite fun to listen to Joe talk about his customers and his sales team.  Speaking about his customers, he says, “I’m really proud that customers trust us.  We have built great relationships over the years.”  The key to building that trust, he says, is to really listen to what they need.  There have been times during his career that InfoSight didn’t have exactly the right tag at first, but InfoSight was able to develop new products to meet those needs.  With that customer focus in mind, he stresses that InfoSight is an innovative company, always looking for innovative solutions, not just for traceability, but for whatever our customers need.

Joe leads the team of sales representatives in the United States and Canada and is a liaison for our international sales partners.  He is rather proud of his sales team, telling me, “We have a really sharp group right now.  They really know how to get out there and how important it is to understand the customer’s needs, to really listen to the customer.”  Joe then went on to talk about the internal employees at InfoSight, saying, “Our people are second to none.”  He believes that everyone, from those that take the orders, to those that build the printers, to those that ship our products, brings their A-game every day. 

It’s not surprising that someone who likes people as much as Joe Morelli does is a salesperson.  From my perspective, it is nice to work with someone who values everyone’s contribution, every step of the way.  You can find Joe on LinkedIn.  

This past weekend, we commemorated the 20th anniversary of the terror attacks of September 11.  The weeks that followed were surreal.  Most of us continued to go to work or to school, but it was in a haze.  We were stunned, saddened, angered, and united as Americans.  Every year on the anniversary, I see many of my friends wishing for that unity again.  

This weekend, I spent a lot of time counting the blessings in my life.  There was a day when I never would have counted living in Chillicothe, Ohio as a great blessing, but that day is in the past.  Now, I cherish this community in which I live and work, where I’ve raised a family and made very good friends.  

InfoSight was a fairly young company in 2001.  It would be seven years before I joined the ranks here.  When I first came to InfoSight, I was struck by the teamwork.  It truly felt like a family atmosphere.  We still have a Christmas party every year, with only a few notable exceptions.  Each year, as we celebrate our successes, John Robertson, our founder and CEO, and Dave Hudelson, our President, make a special point to thank our families for their support.  

InfoSight has been through the same ups and downs as every other American manufacturing company in the last 20 years.  It is because we are dedicated to helping our customers that we have been able to survive and thrive in the modern era of manufacturing.  

I don’t think it’s just on the anniversary of September 11 that Americans long for unity, but it is good that we have that reminder every year.  As reflect on my good fortune this week, I will count my family, my community in Chillicothe, living in America, and working at InfoSight among my many blessings.   

 

When I first started working at InfoSight and learned that we manufacture a tag that survives galvanizing, I thought there was some special magic at work. Logically, I knew that the magic is a result of thorough research and development by our scientists. It still blew my mind that we had a tag that you could print, apply to a steel product, dip that product into molten zinc, and still have a scannable barcode.  

InfoSight offers a full line of tags specifically for fabricators and galvanizers. The challenge InfoSight took on is to create an identification tag that resists the measures fabricators and galvanizers take to protect their steel. Preparing the steel for coating, and then painting, powder coating, or galvanizing that steel has the potential to either destroy or cover the identification. Our identification systems, including ShotTag™, PaintTag™, and KettleTag®PLUS, have proven records of surviving these processes. This means fabricators and galvanizers can track pieces from one process to the next without retagging.  

Recently, we learned that our magic wasn’t working as well as it should in a powder coating situation. This sounds like bad news, but it isn’t. This is the motivation that gets a lot of InfoSight people excited to show up to work every day – we had a problem to solve. And we did - after a few months of product development working with this customer, we introduced PowderCoat™ Tag. This tag is specifically designed for the cleaning, preparation, and curing that are part of the powder coating operation. 

Come see all our “magic” tags at FabTech in Chicago, September 13-16, 2021.  We’ll be at Booth #A5144.