“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.  

InfoSight has a lot of experience building automated equipment that marks on tubes and pipes.  There are quite a few things to consider when marking on tubes and pipes, but durability of the mark and the readability of the mark are two of the most important.  

Tubes and pipes take a beating from the moment they are formed throughout their entire life.  One of the first things that happens is straightening, which will distort any mark that is already applied.  Stacking these products creates opportunities for bumping and banging the pipes together to further damage a mark.  Depending on the type of tube or pipe and its end use, InfoSight has several marking technologies that address these issues.  

Spray marking systems, whether our own I-Dent® system for hot products or an OEM Drop on Demand (DOD) system for cold products are good options to apply InfoSight's OptiCode® Barcode to the outside of tubes and pipes.  OptiCode® is a robust barcode designed to operate as a Piece Identification Number (PIN) that then accesses a database for more complete information.  The simplicity and design of the barcode and the accompanying OptiCode® Readers allow for the barcode to remain readable after some distortion from straightening and after damage from blunt force.  

OptiCode® barcode with Serial Number

 

InfoDent® 8400 stamp marking systems are also ideal for marking tubes and pipes.  These systems can stamp on the outside diameter of the products and on the ends of tubes and pipes.  The InfoDent®8400 software allows the system to mark in an arc pattern to follow the curve of the pipe.  This means every pipe in a stack can be identified from the end of the stack.  

InfoDent® 8400 True Arc Stamp

 

Inside Diameter Laser Marking Systems (IDLMS) mark the inside of pipes, which also allow all pipes in a stack to be identified from the end of the stack.  This process includes applying a white patch inside the end of the pipe and marking it with a LabeLase® Laser Marker.  Often, a protective clear coat is applied, to provide further protection to the mark.  

Pipe with IDLMS Mark

 

When it comes to marking tubes and pipes, InfoSight's experience and expertise is a valuable asset to our customers.  We know how important identification and traceability are in manufacturing, industrial, and infrastructure applications, which is why "We barcode difficult stuff." 

 

 

InfoSight has a lot of experience building automated equipment that marks on tubes and pipes.  There are quite a few things to consider when marking on tubes and pipes, but durability of the mark and the readability of the mark are two of the most important.  

Tubes and pipes take a beating from the moment they are formed throughout their entire life.  One of the first things that happens is straightening, which will distort any mark that is already applied.  Stacking these products creates opportunities for bumping and banging the pipes together to further damage a mark.  Depending on the type of tube or pipe and its end use, InfoSight has several marking technologies that address these issues.  

Spray marking systems, whether our own I-Dent® system for hot products or an OEM Drop on Demand (DOD) system for cold products are good options to apply InfoSight's OptiCode® Barcode to the outside of tubes and pipes.  OptiCode® is a robust barcode designed to operate as a Piece Identification Number (PIN) that then accesses a database for more complete information.  The simplicity and design of the barcode and the accompanying OptiCode® Readers allow for the barcode to remain readable after some distortion from straightening and after damage from blunt force.  

InfoDent® 8400 stamp marking systems are also ideal for marking tubes and pipes.  These systems can stamp on the outside diameter of the products and on the ends of tubes and pipes.  The InfoDent®8400 software allows the system to mark in an arc pattern to follow the curve of the pipe.  This means every pipe in a stack can be identified from the end of the stack.  

Inside Diameter Laser Marking Systems mark the inside of pipes, which also allow all pipes in a stack to be identified from the end of the stack.  This process includes applying a white patch inside the end of the pipe and marking it with a LabeLase® Laser Marker.  Often, a protective clear coat is applied, to provide further protection to the mark.  

When it comes to marking tubes and pipes, InfoSight's experience and expertise is a valuable asset to our customers.  We know how important identification and traceability are in manufacturing, industrial, and infrastructure applications, which is why "We barcode difficult stuff." 

 

 

Summary


When Raytheon was building a new steel coil mill for ACME Steel at their Riverdale, IL facilities in the 1990’s, they installed an InfoSight X-Y Stencil Marker to identify each new hot-rolled coil.  Twenty-six years later, after excellent maintenance by the mill personnel and one partial rebuild, the Cleveland Cliffs facility is still operating the X-Y Stencil Marker and it is in great operating condition.  Now Cleveland Cliffs has decided it’s time to upgrade the electronics.      

 

Case Study


There has been steel making at Riverdale, IL since 1910.  What began as ACME Steel briefly became ISG, ArcelorMittal, and it is now owned by Cleveland-Cliffs, Inc.  ACME Steel tapped Raytheon Engineering to build a new steel coil mill at this location in the 1990s.  This location produces hot-rolled coil products, including high carbon and alloy grades. 

InfoSight is a manufacturer of industrial marking machines, metal tags, metal tag printers, barcode readers, and custom machinery for manual and automatic identification and traceability applications worldwide.  InfoSight employs nearly 70 people, most of whom are located in the Chillicothe, OH headquarters and manufacturing facility.  

Identification of products is important in any industry, but it is particularly difficult for steel products, specifically hot steel products.  InfoSight was a brand-new company when Raytheon choose them to build a marking machine to identify coils at the new mill.  InfoSight delivered an “X-Y Stencil Marker”.  The X-Y Continuous Character Marking system is designed to automatically print (ink stencil) durable, high quality alphanumeric characters on cast shapes and coils at high temperatures.  It is fully programmable, with the capability of automatically incrementing the number printed on each consecutive coil.  Characters from 1 inch (25mm) to 6 inches (152mm) tall are printed with a specially formulated water-based ink, resulting in a mark that is extremely resistant to high temperatures, harsh weather, and rough handling.  

In the early 1990s, ACME Steel operated a smaller hot strip mill at this location.  In order to be viable in a more competitive market and increase sustainability, they enlisted Raytheon Engineering to build a compact strip processing mill in this location.  As a result, raw materials and liquid metal are converted into a customer ready product in about 90 minutes.  With the need for any reheating steps eliminated, energy and money are saved.  As part of this project, Raytheon chose InfoSight to provide the X-Y Stencil Marker to identify the hot-rolled steel coils.  

The marker was designed and built at InfoSight’s Chillicothe facility, then installed and commissioned in the new Riverdale mill in 1996. While the startup went well, a few changes were made, and a few lessons were learned during the commissioning process.  The original ink type was changed because the initial choice settled more than expected.  The ink reservoirs were changed from two (2) Liter bottles to larger 2.5-gallon pressure pots, and eventually to 5-gallon pressure pots.  But the most important thing that happened during commissioning was training.  

InfoSight stresses that a clean system is a reliable system.  In industrial applications, this often falls on deaf ears.  The Riverdale marker encountered a few problems early on with ink drying and clogging so InfoSight Field Service Engineers made an extra trip to provide training to additional employees.  These lessons were taken very seriously, and Riverdale employees implemented a disciplined maintenance program.  Their tenacity has resulted in a marker that has been very reliable for many years.  

The foundation of the maintenance program is cleanliness.  At least once per shift, more if needed, operators clean the ink nozzles and entire marker.  They clean off any excess paint on the nozzles and around the marking head.  They scrape off any hardened paint and remove any buildup from the marker.  By cleaning frequently, the marker stays free of buildup that would have a negative impact on the mark quality.  It also ensures the marker is inspected regularly, so the overall condition of the marker is never a surprise.  The operators also regularly apply lubrication to the tracks in which the marker moves, resulting in a maker that freely moves on the X and Y axes as necessary to create a quality mark.  Additionally, a well-trained staff of mechanics and electricians provide the more advanced maintenance that the system may require.  

InfoSight has been surprisingly uninvolved since addressing the initial issues during commissioning.  However, Riverdale Electrical Manager Terry Murphy indicated there remains a strong working relationship with InfoSight.  One key to their maintenance program is the reliable supply of spare parts for the marker.  Riverdale recently tapped InfoSight for a project to upgrade the electronics of the system.  The 2021 project will replace the aging electronics in the system with modern technology that will allow this X-Y Marker to operate for decades to come.  

 

Innovation is something a lot of businesses like to talk about.  It brings to mind fascinating, new technology that will change the world.  When I looked up the definition, there are two entries.  The second is to introduce something new, especially a product.  But the first entry defines “innovate” as to make changes in something established, especially by introducing new methods, ideas, or products.  So, while innovate may bring revolution to mind, evolution may be a better way to think about it.  

At InfoSight, we have history of both the revolutionary kind of innovation and the evolutionary kind.  Our first tag, the High Temperature InfoTag® was certainly revolutionary – a tag that could be put on hot – over 1000oF – steel and survive with the message intact.  After that, the evolutionary innovation took hold, and we adapted the tag to develop new tags for new harsh environments.  Now, we have over 20 different tags available for every imaginable application.  

InfoSight’s engineering and automation group also displays an innovative work ethic.  There are several basic marking technologies that are integrated into automated equipment, depending on the desired mark – stamped, stenciled, laser marked, etc.  The automated equipment is ever evolving – each machine is custom designed and built to meet a customer’s specific needs.  The customer’s requirements may drive a design change – restricted space, required cycle time, etc.  Each machine presents new opportunities to learn.  Overcoming an operational issue at one location often leads to permanent design changes in future equipment.  

As the saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention.  We put every effort into helping our customers identify and track their assets and products, no matter the environment.  InfoSight’s customer focus is the foundation for our innovation.  

 

Powder coating is a fascinating method to protect products while giving them a beautiful look.  Even if you don’t understand how powder coating works, you can tell something is “not painted”.  The color seems to be part of the product, not a layer on top.  Therein lies the challenge to identify products before they are powder coated, hoping to be able to read that identity afterwards.  

InfoSight leads the way devising innovative solutions to tough identification problems.  We’ve done it again with PowderCoat™Tag.  PowderCoat™Tag is a tag designed to be applied to a product before it is powder coated.  Just like all InfoSight tags, you can put whatever information you want on it.  Your company name, product name, serial number, barcodes?  Yes, they can all go on the tag.  A logo too? Sure! LabeLase® Producer™ is our super easy tag designing software that limits you only by the size of the tag and your imagination.  

Back to PowderCoat™Tag - so you have an identification tag applied to your product.  Then you have to prepare it for powder coating.  Chemical or abrasive cleaning might wipe out the information on some tags, but not ours.  Then you powder coat it and cure it.   Afterward – you read the tag – go ahead, scan it with a barcode reader – all of your information is still available.  

InfoSight sales representative Brian Schlatterbeck says, “We are pleased to add PowderCoat™Tag to our line of fabricator tags.  We have customers who are excited to be able to identify their products before being powder coated and have that identity intact after curing."

If it sounds too good to be true, contact your InfoSight representative or visit us at the Powder Coating Institute’s technical conference in Orlando, July 13-16 2021.  You may have to see it to believe it, but we are happy to show you.  

 

Note: This article has been edited.