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Soup maker 'soups up' printing/coding efficiencies

Kettle Cuisine standardizes on one coding supplier for foodservice pouches, retail cup labels, and corrugated shipping cases.
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Kettle Cuisine Inc., Chelsea, MA, has chosen to use a single coding/printing equipment supplier exclusively for three areas of operation—pouch coding, cup label coding, and shipping case coding. This standardization helps simplify operations and reinforce the consistency and uniformity of line efficiencies.

As Kettle Cuisine’s vp of operations Dennis Wilson points out, “We standardized on coding equipment from Markem-Imaje (www.markem-imaje.com) that networks to the coding operations for all three lines because of the company’s reliability and excellent customer support. Our pouches and cases have been coded using Markem equipment for more than six years. And in the Fall 2007, we installed a new high-speed cup labeling line that also incorporates a Markem-Imaje coding system.”

Foodservice, retail packages

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For more than 20 years, Kettle Cuisine has supplied the foodservice industry with high-quality soups and chowders packaged in 4- and 8-lb film pouches. Wilson notes, “In the last five years, we have seen an increasing demand in the retail sector for the same products packaged in single- and multiserve cups. To respond to this new opportunity, we now have three packaging lines that run cup sizes ranging from 10 to 32 ounces.”

The foodservice pouches are made of 5-mil clear film supplied by Cryovac, a division of Sealed Air Corp. (www.sealedair.com) and are filled and sealed by Cryovac equipment. Markem-Imaje Smart Date equipment is used to print batch codes, product descriptions, and best-used-before dates on the pouches.

The cupped products are filled and sealed using equipment from Oystar Packaging Technologies-Holmatic (www.oystar.packt.com) and Simplex Filler Co. (www.simplexfiller.com). The 10-, 12-, 16-, and 32-oz polypropylene cups and linear low-density polyethylene lids are molded by Plastic Packaging Corp. (www.plasticpkg.com).

Seal membrane material for the cups is a peelable lidding film supplied by Curwood (www.curwood.com), a Bemis company. The 7-color-printed roll-fed paper labels are supplied by Action Packaging Systems (www.actionpkg.com). The Markem-Imaje Smart Date printer applies date and batch codes to the labels just before they are applied to the cups by a labeling machine from P.E. USA (www.pe-us.com). Coding speeds are approximately 150 cups/min.

Corrugated RSC shipping cases, supplied by International Paper Co. (www.internationalpaper.com), are printed by Markem-Imaje 5200 series printers prior to being erected and loaded. The printers use hot-melt Touch Dry® ink-jet technology that delivers product descriptions, production codes, and 100% scannable bar codes to the case flats.

Cool coding

Both the pouched and cupped products are hot-filled at approximately 190° F, and then chilled to 38° F. These refrigerated soups contain no preservatives and have an average shelf life of 27 to 45 days, depending on the recipe.

Wilson notes, “We do all our finished product coding under refrigeration, and Markem-Imaje assisted in the start-up to allow for the chilled operating environment. Markem-Imaje technicians always are available, should we need assistance on a particular start-up. Generally, these start-ups are trouble-free. And we have a service agreement that simplifies transactions and ensures continual support from its technicians who are very familiar with our operation.”

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