ICE PRINTERS HAND PICKED FOR RELIABILITY
13th October, 2015
Family-owned fresh produce business S&A Group is using Zodiac thermal transfer overprinters from Interactive Coding Equipment (ICE) to help reduce packaging costs and increase coding efficiency across its two production sites in Herefordshire and Kent.
The 18 Zodiac printers, integrated with Proseal GT2 Twin traysealers, are being used to print variable information directly onto film on heat seal trays. They have replaced inkjet coders printing onto pre-printed labelled lids, a process which S&A found was not able to cope with the increases in the volume of produce they were experiencing.
“As a growing business, we needed a faster and more efficient operation that could cope with increased throughput at busy periods,” explains S&A Packhouse Manager Fred Williams. “It’s also much more cost-effective to print onto film and it reduces the waste on pre-printed materials.”
S&A reports that the Zodiacs are easy to operate with switching between product lines a simple process using the touchscreen interface.
In addition, S&A has benefited from fewer coding errors thanks to the CLARiTY touchscreen operating system, used in all ICE coders, which controls the way operators can edit the variable print fields available. The sell-by date, best before date, fruit variety and grower code can be inputted using pre-defined fields which the operator selects on the screen. Dates may only be adjusted as allowed by a concessions system, while the other fields are chosen from a pre-defined list. The features help to simplify the operator’s task and drastically reduce the risk of coding errors.
S&A has also installed barcode verification scanners to check the information is correct before produce is transported. “We consistently achieve high-quality prints – proof that the ICE coders are doing a good job,” says Fred Williams.
S&A Group is the largest independent berry and asparagus grower in the UK, last year supplying over 40 million punnets of fruit to its customers. As well as growing its own produce, the company also sources it globally in order to provide the highest quality produce all year round. As capacity has grown and with the majority of packaging moving to printed film over time, the company is keen to maintain the strong relationship it has with ICE for its coding needs.
“We quickly realised the benefit of switching our coding system after the first two Zodiacs were installed,” concludes Fred Williams. “We’ll always go for ICE coders as they are good machines. We have less downtime and errors and the print quality has always been consistent. With our service contract, we also benefit from regular maintenance visits from their engineers to keep the kit in excellent working order.”