9 March 2005
Raising The Bar(HKTDC Fashion - Fabrics & Accessories, Vol 02,2005)
Cyber Link Holdings Ltd
In 1999, when barcode label printing manufacturer Cyber Link Holdings Ltd commenced business, the firm's focus was simply on providing customers with barcode labels. However, sales manager Gary Tang says that just a year later the focus shifted to include more comprehensive services.
When Tang and supervisor Joe Lee, with their combined experience of 10 years in the barcode label arena, joined forces to found Cyber Link, their first desire was to create something other than a traditional factory. "We really wanted to create a design house," Tang says.
As a result, Cyber Link today offers extra barcode solutions that it claims differentiates it from its competitors. "Our competitive edge is all about technique and added value," Tang explains. "For example, the simple printing of barcodes may take only about two hours per job, whereas added services such as direct, on-time delivery and making sure the right barcode tags or labels are sent are far more time-consuming."
He says that although the extra processes add time and labour to the job, clients benefit from the extra efficiency while Cyber Link benefits from the added value. "The cost of printing alone is very low," he observes.
Cyber Link prints and produces labels that encompass UPC, EAN, Code 128 or UCC/EAN 128 barcodes for use in Hong Kong and worldwide. "We distribute these on the Chinese mainland, in India and elsewhere in East Asia according to customers' instructions," Tang says.
Thermal printing comprises the bulk of Cyber Link's printing techniques as it allows for data processing onto the barcode or label. "We are one of just a handful who can do this," claims Tang. "Most other firms just do the straight forward printing and cannot add any data."
Cyber Link has more than five million blank labels in over 100 different sizes in stock, ready for thermal printing. "Mostly, we prepare labels for garments, handbags and shoes in addition to some barcode labels for electronic goods," says Tang.
The firm also plans to expand its abilities to include design services. "That means taking a sketch from a customer and developing it into a finished label for them," says Tang.
Cyber Link plans to introduce its design services around mid-year, and the initial plan is for custom labels to account for 5-10% of total production. "We already have one in-house designer and we will outsource to other design houses as necessary," says Tang.
Quoting a typical example, Tang says, "Barcode printing is a skilled job these days. Simple labels such as you see on products in supermarkets are very easy to do, but those carrying lots of information and data - especially when size is a consideration - require specialists such as us." He adds that Cyber Link has managed to create a reasonably sized barcode label that can also be scanned.
Asserting that lowest cost is not Cyber Link's prime aim, Tang says the focus is on added value and efficiency. "To that end, we have added a new eight-colour Mark Andy Flexo press that allows us to produce and print barcodes and labels for garments, something not many companies in Hong Kong are currently able to do."
The Flexo press upgrades the firm's quality to US standards. "With this new printer we can produce roll form tags as well as special finishing tags used primarily for high-end designs. The special finishing labels will be adhesive types so that the price can be removed from the item," Tang explains.
Also new to Cyber Link's barcode label family are woven fabric labels. Using a thermal transfer printer, these labels can be sewn into garments and can withstand washing.
"Woven barcode labels are the trend now for high-end garments," says Tang, adding that Cyber Link has a low minimum order requirement for them and a very flexible order size as there is no need to especially set up the printer.
"Using a thermal printer makes printing of woven labels very easy, and is the approach used by firms in the US and Europe," Tang says.
While woven barcode labels have not yet become popular with Hong Kong garment manufacturers, Tang says they soon will. "At present, woven barcodes comprise about 5% of our total production, but this could grow at the rate of 5-10% a year," he forecasts.
As part of its QC service, Cyber Link scans its barcodes for accuracy using the HPP Quick Check 810 Verifier. "If a barcode fails it is usually a design and printing problem," says Tang, adding that the barcode size is an important factor.
"Being a member of the Hong Kong Article Numbering Association and a vendor of barcode and tag printing services, we provide professional advice to our customers about barcode scanning requirements," Tang says.
Cyber Link uses primarily art paper, although PP, PET UL and YUPO are also used. The firm's main market is the US and delivery time is 1-7 days from the time price and barcode information is received by email. Minimum order is 20,000 labels, although Cyber Link also accepts smaller quantities depending on requirements.
"When it comes to barcode labels and tags, we are the specialists," Tang enthuses. Certainly, Cyber Link is a good example of a firm involved in precise data processing typical of forward-looking Hong Kong companies.
WRITTEN BY TAMARA CHEUNG
Cyber Link Holdings Ltd