EU LEGISLATION HAS INTRODUCED STRICTER CRITERIA FOR THE CLEAR DATE MARKING OF FOOD PACKAGING
by Tom Hawkins, sales director, UK and Ireland, Videojet Technologies
The Directive 2000/13/EC of the European Parliament and the Council demands date mark clarity and compliance of clear labelling requirements. It states that they should be conspicuous, legible, and indelible.
This is why manufacturers are increasingly seeking ways to effectively, accurately, and cost-consciously incorporate these requirements into their day-to-day production.
A broad range of coding and marking solutions, based on a number of different technologies, are offered by my company.
These include large- and small-character inkjet printers, laser coding systems, thermal transfer printers, and labelling equipment that applies variable data such as best-by dates, as well as linear and 2D bar codes, on to virtually every possible product packaging, shipping container, or pallet.
Britvic Soft Drinks is one operation that’s invested in Videojet’s coding technology. It handles names like Robinsons, J20, 7UP, and Tango, and tackles metal cans at around 90,000 codes per hour, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Two lines of text feature: a best-before date, Julian date, lot number, line number, and site number. However, it’s vital that the company achieves the highest standards of traceability codes as poor quality could lead to financial penalties.
BIG SUPERMARKETS SUPPLIED
Another user is Bokomo Foods UK, owned by Pioneer Foods. Predominately a private-label and contract manufacturer, it makes and packs cereals for all Britain’s largest retail chains – including Sainsbury’s Asda, Tesco, Marks & Spencer, Morrisons, and Lidl – and produces breakfast cereals for well-known companies under their brands. Bokomo has also diversified into selling its own range of cereals under the Grain, Breakfast Saver, and Sunny-Bisk brands.
Production is spread over two sites at Peterborough and Wellingborough. The former makes 70 tons of finished product per day, and the latter 20 tons. Even though the packs may be different, the codes are the same: two lines of traceability and consumer information.
For traceability, Bokomo prints a Julian date, a manufacturing time, and – for products made on multiple lines – a line number. For the consumer and retailer, Bokomo prints a sell-by date.
Both aforementioned customers have adopted Videojet solutions to meet their needs. Britvic’s requirement for high-speed application of quality-printed, traceable codes chose our 1620 UHS solution to lift production-line rates by 30m/min. This also delivers excellent print quality, larger characters, and a more reliable, easy-to-clean machine.
Paul Ash, maintenance technician at Britvic Rugby, explains that one system benefit is less downtime – with far fewer line stops due to poor print quality, and an increased period between cleaning.
“We now choose to clean the printhead once a week at a convenient time when there’s no pressure from the line being down. There’s no mess. No problems.”
Forty per cent faster than its predecessor technology, Videojet 1620 UHS enabled Britvic to raise the line speed by 25 per cent, to 150m/min, and increase the print character size. Other benefits have been a reduction in daily maintenance, and a rise in the period between cleaning intervals.
Bokomo had been a Videojet customer for over 10 years at its Wellingborough site. However, the Peterborough plant was using older-generation CIJ printers from one of Videojet’s competitors, and Bokomo decided it was time to upgrade.
In particular, they liked the benefits of the Videojet 1000 Line for a cartoner packaging cereal, and our ability to get a printer up and running on the line immediately. After a three-month trial, Bokomo bought that unit and another three to replace all of the competitor’s printers. The company has since ordered an additional four Videojet 1000 Line printers for its Wellingborough site.
The operation makes products for so many different customers, and each has specific requirements regarding how they want their codes to look. As a result, it’s required to make a significant number of code changes per day – sometimes more than five on a single line.
Besides an increase in productivity, Bokomo has benefited from the simple and easy-to-use interface – something of which Lukasz Maziarz, line leader at Peterborough, approves: “The Videojet 1000 Line has a very clear interface. It is easy to figure out what to do. I can quickly find the settings to make my codes bigger, or adjust them for new customers.”
Other Videojet case-coding solutions include our 2300 Series family of three high-resolution, large-character inkjet printers, and the 2120 easy-to-use printer for applying single- or twin-line alphanumeric codes.
For reliable, fast, one-line marking, there’s the compact, easy-to-use, Unicorn, which offers a very good cost/benefit ratio.