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Small-character ink-jet printer tackles co-pack challenge

‘Intuitive’ printer interface alerts to potential problems and sets troubleshooting tools in motion.
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Illinois Growth Enterprises, Inc. (IGE), a co-packer located in Rockford, IL, is a nonprofit organization that provides vocational training to people with disabilities and tailors programs to meet individual worker needs.

In October 2008, IGE received a packaging assignment from Berner Foods, Dakota, IL, a supplier of natural, processed, specialty cheese products, and cheese dips. Berner contracted with IGE to pack prepackaged individual plastic bowls of cheese dip into chipboard sleeve cartons and to replicate freshness dates from the bowls onto the chipboard. The 13-oz microwaveable bowls (specific plastic structure undisclosed) are supplied by Rexam, and the chipboard cartoning material, offset-printed in five colors, is supplied by Grafcor, Inc..

Fast-track assignment

The initial project had to be completed by December 2008. But for IGE to accept the project, the company needed to invest in variable-data coding equipment. Based on its positive experience with equipment from Videojet Technologies, Inc., Berner recommended that IGE consult with Videojet to try to find a solution to the printing challenge. IGE needed a reliable, small-character ink-jet printer that was flexible, produced consistently clear codes, and could keep up with production line speeds of 30 packages/min.

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To meet customer deadlines, IGE had only five days to set up a production line, including installation of the new printer and completion of employee training. Videojet consultants analyzed the problem and suggested their Model 1510 small-character, continuous ink-jet printer would be well-suited to handle Berner’s printing/coding parameters.

IGE vice president Mike Miller says, “Our business relies on meeting customer demands. So we pride ourselves on being flexible in terms of acquiring new equipment and organizing staff to accomplish our customers’ projects. Videojet got us our new printer within four days and trained our staff so that we could begin packaging the cheese dips on the fifth day. Without that quick turnaround, we would not have been able to accept the packaging assignment from Berner.”

Easy operation

Despite having little experience with coding equipment, IGE production staff quickly realized that the Videojet 1510 printer is easy to use with an interface that clearly displays what is being printed and provides fault code warnings for fast troubleshooting. If the printhead requires cleaning, the printer’s self-diagnostic and self-cleaning process takes only three to four minutes, minimizing downtime on the production line.

Miller notes, “Videojet’s technical support team was always available when we had questions. The printer’s screen makes it easy for our production managers to set up projects, and changing the ink and makeup fluids is a quick process. It’s just like changing the ink cartridge in an office printer.”

The Videojet 1510 Smart Cartridge™ fluid containers feature an embedded microchip that identifies whether compatible ink has been installed. This technology eliminates mistakes related to incompatible ink or makeup fluids which can require a service call to fix.

IGE currently is running both single- and double-packs of Berner’s bowled cheese dips simultaneously, using two Videojet 1510 printers. The printers consistently provide clear, accurate codes, eliminating downtime and allowing IGE to meet Berner’s deadlines.

Miller says, “We have a waiting list of people with disabilities who need jobs. With these Videojet printers we were able to grow our business by securing the Berner contract.”

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