A high-speed offline coding system from Rotech has enabled contract packer Speedpac to meet all its coding requirements using a single printer, as well as eliminating the need to apply separate coded labels to its gift packs.
Wellingborough-based Speedpac provides tailored end-to-end solutions for storage, distribution, contract packing and returns for a range of clients, including blue chip companies. As part of the service, Speedpac packs high volumes of gift products such as toiletries, which require batch code information on the assembled carton.
“The gift sets once assembled are a retail carton containing various skincare products that require the batch code information to be printed on the back of the carton,” explains Speedpac’s operations manager, Steve Brocklehurst. “This code relates to the various products in the pack and allows traceability to ensure that all the products can be traced from the filling of the creams and gels during its manufacture right through to the assembly of the finished gift pack should any quality related issues arise.”
The gifting business is very seasonal, so at certain times of year such as the run-up to Christmas, Speepac can be running up to eight packing lines. Installing a separate printer on each line would be prohibitively expensive, so the company was forced to print some of the necessary batch codes separately on labels before applying them by hand to the assembled gift boxes. Speedpac realised that it would be more efficient to do away with labelling and apply the codes directly to packs at a central coding station before they’re assembled. “All of the packs arrive to us as flat cartons or sleeves so offline coding is an option and it eliminates the need to add expensive coders to every line,” says Steve.
After testing a number of solutions, Speedpac found the Rotech RF2 to be the most reliable and cost-effective solution for this application. The RF2 Friction Feeder is a standalone carton and sleeve feeder that’s designed specifically for non-contact printing such as inkjet and laser technologies. This was ideal for Speedpac, since the new feed system could be tailored to fit around its existing inkjet printer to form a complete solution.
Key features of the RF2 include simple controls, complete with quick-set separation and hopper guides to minimise downtime when changing pack sizes. The RF2 can handle packs from 65mm x 70mm up to 350mm x 350mm. The friction-based system reliably controls each carton’s passage, ensuring that they are separated effectively as they come off the stack and are positioned correctly for the printing process.
“We had the system on a trial basis and the feeder was very straightforward to use,” says Steve. “It had some benefits over another machine I had on trial as the design of the feed mechanism suited our packs and ran with next to no issues. Other feeders that were trialled had constant feeding issues.”
“Once set up for a particular size product the machine and code quality are very good and consistent. The speed set suited our application but the feeder has the ability to run much faster.”
The system now maintains the quality and accuracy of the batch coding across all eight production lines, running slightly ahead of the scheduled daily production in order to have the cartons ready in time. It has freed up workers, who no longer have to apply coded labels by hand.
“The Rotech machine allows very accurate coding at high speeds,” says Steve. Moreover, he adds that Rotech handled the overall installation smoothly and made sure that Speedpac’s operators were up to speed with the new system: “From the initial enquiry and a briefing over the telephone, a site visit was arranged within a matter of days and that visit included a demonstration of the type of feeder required. Within a few weeks we had a machine delivered and coupled up to our coder. Full training was supplied and we were up and running. Rotech delivered a first class service all round.”