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Variable image printing with world class capabilities

Hard Yakka clothing label

Variable image printing with world class capabilities

From our core delivery in labels to consistent branding along all labelling, packaging and promotional solutions, our clients’ needs vary greatly. Our dedication is to delivering the services our cients’ need in a way that fits with their production process and leverages off our global positioning to provide seamless integration.

Within our range is a service offering we are most proud of – our Variable Image printing facilities.

What is VI printing?

Wild country label

The answer to this comes from one of our  skilled personell, Dean Prosser, Image Label Systems’ New Zealand based business manager. With over 15 years’ experience, Dean is the perfect person to handle the tough questions and get you to realise what it is that we already know – our variable printing capabilities are world class.

In its simplest explanation, VI printing is where variable data like barcodes, pricing, SKU numbers or descriptions are printed direct to labels, tags along with a string of other substrates.

What products are involved with VI Printing?

The answer to that depends on what your needs are. We can print to almost anything:  care and instruction labels, self-adhesive labels, swing tags and specialist products such as synthetic outdoor labels and tags.

Portland sandals

Given our ability to print to many materials, VI printing  is also ideal for specialist product applications, for example, synthetic labels for tracking outdoor hire equipment with a sequential number range  – the labels are durable and robust, capable of withstanding the ravages of nature.

The point here is that VI printing has many applications and applies to more than just apparel.

Shipping labels are prime candidates for VI printing with data that allows for traceability no matter where in the world the item may be headed. If items need to be clearly marked with labelling for each box to comply with (for example) supermarket regulations then VI printing fits the bill.

With FMCG items that are delivered to supermarkets, chances are those items will be shipped to a distribution centre that deals with numerous items on a daily basis. Ensuring these items are clearly and uniquely labelled is not only necessary but required – as often dictated by supermarkets strict regulations.

Who might use VI printing?

–  The apparel sector for product identification, traceability and communication of core information to the end consumer, whether it be care instructions, pricing, sizing or barcodes for retail POS

– Any organisation requiring general traceability where a barcode system or variable data stream is required (document storage, libraries, warehouse traceability, product pricing and identification)

–  Operations requiring specialist solutions for outdoor product traceability applications (for example, garden centres, hire equipment providers)

–  Those involved in the freight sector requiring courier tickets, printed shipping labels or shelf labelling as examples

The scope of who might require labels or tags needing variable information printed on them is broad, the sectors broached above are only a few examples to illustrate the nature VI printing can take on.

What do customers need to do to start the process?

The key or initial point here is concept. For example, who is the target market, do you need to meet organisation mandates, do you have a set design, set size etc?


To get this information we go through a briefing process to understand what our customer’s needs are. We guide them through the elements they may need and then get the necessary data from them. We establish the medium to be used:  sticker, swing tag, care label or even a woven label. We look at the design which becomes a collaboration process whereby we can quickly draft a simple label for them with our in-house capabilities, complex designs can also be accommodated in less than 48 hours.

We can arrange pre-printed media which can be overprinted with your variable data on an ‘as required’ basis, giving you the best of both worlds – branding and easy product identification.

Longhorn shearing

General VI print is best done in black print on a light (preferably white) background:  this is particularly beneficial for barcodes where stark contrast between the barcode itself and the background media is quite important. However, other colours can be printed and we have the capability to print on many substrates on both sides of the media.

What standards are adhered too?

GS1 barcoding is a global standards compliance often required for supermarkets and others at retail level; essentially it is a global barcode administrative authority.

It is present on just about every food item we purchase through normal retail channels (e.g. supermarkets and mainstream retail outlets) and GS1 sets barcode formats globally.

The team at Image Label Systems have been  trained on the GS1 system to create compliant tags and barcodes which are hugely important for large format retail or global fashion retail amongst many others. GS1 provides structure and continuity in what could otherwise be a chaotic system.

We have complete flexibility to create a useable unique template, or we can work to strict specifications that might be in place for the labelling of your products and these standards could be mandated by your customers (a supermarket, or national retail chain for example).

How easy is the process?

The process from the client end is very easy, and the key to successful VI printing is the data, usually requested and supplied in an excel spreadsheet. Simple.

Why Image Labels?

Image Label Systems has an enviable and world class global network, we can produce VI products in many locations around the world and this has been a core offering in our range for many years.

Some companies may choose to produce their own VI product; our question becomes ‘is that the best use of your time, resources and attention?’ The economic costs of this decision include capital costs of equipment, stock holding of raw material, labour costs, problems with barcode compliance and freight – we can assist and streamline the process for you by eliminating most if not all of these factors.

For clients who don’t have knowledge of bar-coding we stay on top of what’s going on, we are here to guide you through the process. Our global network allows us to meet the printing needs of our clients with a global perspective – we can deal with a customer locally and then produce in Hong Kong and ship to other areas of China, Asia and the rest of the world. We have a ‘Variable Print Bureau’ in all branches of the company and the speed this central specific process allows us, means that we are able to keep our global network connected and functioning well.

For proof of how well VI printing works, it is best seen in our  preferred supplier status for Farmers for their label requirements.

Farmers label

As an approved Farmers barcode label and tag supplier, Image Label Systems operate on the guidelines given by Farmers for their organisation specific needs and Farmers branded items, from logo, pricing to other descriptive data.

If you require labelling that must meet global standards or you are looking to enter the FMCG market and are unsure of the labelling regulations give our team a call.

Capable of VI printing throughout the globe, Image Label Systems will be able to deliver on your labelling needs and get your label compliant in no time.