What are the Hidden Costs of Date Coding?

Posted by Cecilia Barcenas on Oct 12, 2020 10:48:36 AM
Cecilia Barcenas
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What are the hidden costs of date coding?

Are you considering all the costs associated with date coding? There are costs beyond just the initial capital investment and installation. We wrote this guide to make sure you don’t let the hidden costs of date coding sneak up on you. Instead, educate and prepare yourself to make an informed decision on your inkjet date coder that takes all the costs into consideration.


Choosing the right piece of production equipment is not easy. While there are tangible expenses that you know about from the beginning, such as the purchase price and installation charge, there are also long-term (and sometimes hidden) costs of ownership that might sneak up on you. As such, it is crucial you remain proactive, by evaluating your date coding equipment options with these areas in mind. What are some of the hidden costs of date coding, you may ask? Continue reading below for more information regarding this topic.


When looking at the overall cost of date coding and the logistics behind it, it is extremely clear that if there is downtime due to scheduled maintenance or unforeseen repairs, money will be lost. From the surface, downtime occurs when an issue or problem happens to the production line date coder and production must be halted while the date coder is being fixed before resuming. However, to see the hidden cost, you must look beyond the basics of just the labor and parts cost on a service call. You must consider the size and scope of your manufacturing and production output and how much money you are losing every minute that the line is not in production.

You would think that this hidden cost is only applicable when an issue occurs, which is true; however, you need to consider how much that issue is costing the company when that does happen. This hidden cost is not cheap! Evaluate the date coding technologies with this in mind - is this a technology that is prone to breakdowns or requires regular maintenance?

Service Contracts

Some date coding equipment technologies require more scheduled maintenance and repairs than others, these printers typically come with a recommended service contract for the equipment by the manufacturer or distributor. The benefit to a service contract is knowing you have a lifeline in the event you need assistance with a complex piece of date coding equipment. Having a service contract allows for an agreement to be made so that maintenance and service for the equipment are covered over a general period.

This is a necessary aspect of this business; however, it is another cost that must be considered when evaluating your date coding technology options. While prices differ due to the brand and the type of technology involved, date coding service contracts are by no means cheap. This price can range anywhere from $200 to $300 per month, per printer. For example, this would equal $24,000 per year if a facility had a total of 10 active printers on the low end.

Print Head Replacements/Exchanges

The print head is also a necessary part of all the printers. Printing cannot be completed if this part is not working properly. With this being the case, it is completely necessary to replace or exchange the print head if it is not correctly operating. Some technologies are more prone to print head specific issues. So much so that the various printer OEMs offer exchange programs or replacement plans; however, even with this being an option, it is still a large cost.

Depending on the specific date coding technology, for a replacement, you are looking at a total between $2,000 to $4,000 to replace the print head. To exchange it, depending on what the OEM offers and what specifically the technology is you are looking for, this would cost between $1,000 and $2,000. While this is something you cannot see coming, some OEMs recommend that businesses who could possibly have this problem keep a spare print head on the shelf if they need to ever replace it. This could cost as much as $5,000.

Spare Parts Inventory

Preparation is key! As stated above, it is recommended for businesses to purchase spare parts ahead of time. By making sure that there are backups, you are eliminating having to purchase them at the time of the issue. Many printer OEMs have a recommended spare parts inventory for customers to keep on hand depending on the date coding technology they are using. It is another cost that is not always considered when making the initial equipment evaluation prior to purchase - be sure to consider this cost in your evaluation.

Break Fixes

Unfortunately, some traditional date coding technologies are prone to common issues and problems with being used continuously for production. When these issues occur, they may require a service call to be fixed or dealt with. Depending on what the issue is and what needs to be done to resolve the issue and repair the printer to return to production, it is not unheard of that a routine service call can cost close to $1,000 or more.

This is one more hidden cost of ownership because nobody can anticipate what issues are going to occur, when they will, or how often. It is also an issue because there are other expenses that go hand-in-hand with having to shut down the production line. As addressed above, the cost to shut down the product line is not ideal or cheap. Again, assess the reliability of the various date coding technologies you are considering and what potential service or repair costs could cost in the worst-case scenario. It’s better to be prepared and understand these costs before purchasing your date coding equipment.

Ink Costs

The printer, technology, and equipment that you have will determine how much ink will cost. There are costs that come with ink that most do not think off the top of their heads. Specifically, how many prints can be achieved, storage for the hazardous materials, chemicals that go hand-in-hand with the ink, and more.

It is a good idea to look at all the different elements and factors that go along with ink to get the best round-about cost. Make sure you are paying attention to those hidden costs that you might not see right away!

Annual Preventative Maintenance

Some date coding technologies require annual preventative maintenance to ensure that the equipment continues working properly and to try and eliminate as many breaks and problems as possible. Not only do many date coding systems need flushing and cleaning, but filters need to be replaced as well as some other components on the equipment. Do not forget about this cost—it is most definitely needed! This is yet another hidden cost of ownership because it is not the first thing that you think of when making your date coding equipment purchase. Yet, you’ll want to know what if any preventative maintenance is required for your date coding equipment!

When looking over date coding and all that goes into it, you can see that there are so many elements and aspects that you do not think of off the top of your head. When individuals look further into the question of what the hidden costs of date coding are, the answers above outline this perfectly.

Many—if not all—hidden costs cannot be ignored. To ensure that you have a well-rounded idea, as well as a strong support system, reach out to Sneed Coding. We not only can help you find the best marking and coding equipment for your business, but we can also help you prepare for all that comes with owning these pieces of technology. Call us today!

What are the hidden costs of date coding?


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