Rolling out automation
The food retail industry has high expectations from food producers; quality ingredients, traceability, strong branding and clear consumer messaging are among many stringent requirements. Producers also need to be confident that they can fulfil orders, so in-house production methods need to be fast and reliable to ensure that profits can be maximised.
As demand for Rollagranola’s products grew, so did the need to automate the packing process. Initially, produce was packed into cereal boxes by hand, so to speed up output and improve efficiency, the company invested in a Freemantle carton erector which completely automated the packing process.
Simplifying date and batch coding
While the packing process was transformational, date codes and batch codes were still being applied by hand using labels, each being applied with a sticker gun at the end of the line. A direct coding application was needed.
Rotech’s Sales Manager, Steve Ryan, had already been in regular contact with Robin since he visited their stand at a packaging event. Steve had previously informed Robin about a new thermal inkjet printing solutionThermal Inkjet Printing that had proven to be invaluable for many other artisan food producers due to its low cost and flexibility.
When Robin got in touch and outlined their need to apply date and batch codes online, I knew the lntegra thermal inkjet printer would be perfect as it can be simply integrated with any carton feeder” said Steve. “The beauty of these little printers is that they not only slot into small spaces, but they also print clean, crisp codes of multiple types of data, with no mess and no maintenance.
Rollagranola produces around 34 boxes of different varieties per minute. The small cereal boxes are all of a consistent size of 250 x 80 x 150 mm, and the print area for date and batch coding is 30 x 20 mm. The standard print area meant that only one printer was required to date and batch code all cartons.
Using a simple up and over bracket assembly, an lntegra printer was positioned on to the carton feeder, giving easy access to the printer cartridge and controls. The lntegra printer also comes with useful iDesign format creation software which allows the user to create and edit dates and batch code sequencing, along with information about job status, quality and ink levels.
Fast, clean, ‘click and go’ carton printing
Traditionally, batch and date code printing on food packaging has been applied using continuous inkjet or thermal transfer printing which requires more frequent and often messy ink changes.
Thermal inkjet technology offers significant improvements in terms of quality, flexibility and costs. Each printer cartridge can produce up to 400,000 prints and the cartridge can be changed by simply clicking the used cartridge out and clicking the new one in.
Rollagranola founder Robin Longden is delighted with the solution saying,
We looked at various options but chose Rotech’s lntegra printer because of its simplicity and reliability. Moving to this new thermal printing technology has reduced our labour costs and eliminated mis-labelling, which has improved overall efficiency.