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A food and drink packer has overcome the problem of poor quality product coding by installing inkjet printers from Markem-Imaje across its four packaging lines.

Gower View Foods in Carmarthenshire offers a contract packing service specialising in liquid stick packs, 95mm pots and 250g packs of butter, supplying around 800,000 products per week to a number of blue chip customers.

When the company was first established in 2006 it experienced problems with its inkjet coders.

The quality of the codes were poor with constant misprints and illegible data and there were continual faults with the coders, as well as ink leakages.

Jon Lewis, managing director of Gower View Foods, said: ‘Our customers rely on us to produce a quality product on time and that requires reliable coding so it’s vital that our coding processes operate efficiently.

‘However, because the coding quality was often substandard, we would regularly have to re-code products.

‘This meant that the products had to be reworked or repacked and as a small business we couldn’t afford to carry this cost,’ he added.

Lewis had previously worked with coding equipment from both Markem and Imaje and knew their products to be reliable.

In 2008, when he was installing three new packaging lines, he decided to replace all existing coding equipment with products from the recently merged Markem-Imaje.

He installed three 9020 small character continuous inkjet (CIJ) units to code primary products, and three Crayon-Plus drop-on-demand inkjet units to code outer casings.

Since the equipment has been installed, Lewis said that coding processes in the factory have improved.

The Markem-Imaje coders at Gower View Foods are being used to print best-before dates, use-by dates, Julian codes, line numbers and real-time data.

The 9020 prints directly onto substrates such as foil, pots and parchment paper at speeds of up to 7,200 packs per hour, while the Crayon-Plus prints onto foil or corrugated cardboard at a rate of up to 360 packs per hour.

Lewis said: ‘Both styles of coder are user-friendly and take up a lot less space on the shop floor than our previous units.

‘The 9020 sits on a small stand next to the line, and the Crayon-Plus units are fitted to the top and bottom case sealers so they both integrate very well into the line.

‘The 9020 also gives us greater flexibility than our old inkjet coders because it’s so simple to alter the data and the ink cartridges are also very easy to replace.

‘Since the machines have been in place, not a drop of ink has been spilt on the shop floor,’ he added.

There is the added benefit of cost savings, as compared with its old ink cartridges, the company has also found that it can print far more characters with the Markem-Imaje cartridges and their price per unit is lower.

Gower View Foods has also purchased a number of Nova desktop label printers from Markem-Imaje, which enables the company to label its traded units with traceability information.

These Nova units print labels on demand containing application identifiers such as best-before dates, GS1-128 bar codes, batch numbers, quantities, weights and many other attributes needed by the retail supply chain.

Gower View Foods also noted the technical support it received from Markem-Imaje’s customer help desk and its local account management team, and has recommended the company’s services to other local businesses.

Part of the 9000 series, Markem-Imaje said that the 9020 offers stable marking quality, easy operation and a simple user interface.

The coder features an automatic flushing system, which ensures hassle-free start-ups, and the operator can replenish consumables without having to interrupt printing operations.

The design of the Crayon-Plus and its inkjet drop-on-demand technology is claimed to allow for high-quality coding and seamless integration into all manufacturing lines.

Characterised by its ultra-compact size, the Crayon-Plus is suitable for one-side case coding in typical packaging environments.

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