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U.K. egg packer sees the sunny side with new carton coders

Scribing lasers on five lines at The Free Range Egg Company eliminate the need for operator intervention, speed throughput, and increase coding accuracy for egg cartons.

The scribing lasers are said to give precise, accurate coding results every time.
The scribing lasers are said to give precise, accurate coding results every time.

The Lakes Free Range Egg Company, based near Ullswater in Cumbria, U.K., is a supplier of free range and organic eggs to a number of leading retail and foodservice customers. In 2011, the company unveiled a new state-of-the-art production facility, which included new egg carton coding capabilities, made possible through the installation of two Domino D320i laser printers.

According to the company, the D320i scribing lasers have had a significant positive impact on production levels, slashing the time taken to check accurate coding and eliminating the need for human intervention on the now fully automated lines. Integrated into five packing lanes, the D320i lasers are used to code egg prepacks that are destined for some of the leading U.K. food retailers, such as Morrisons, McDonald’s, and Booths.

Says The Lakes managing director Mark Gaskin, “With the recent upgrade of our facilities, we felt it was time to upgrade our capabilities too and wanted something new to work on five packing lanes out of a total fourteen, which were previously all covered by thermal label applicators from another product manufacturer.”

After reviewing several options, The Lakes chose the energy-efficient, compact, and user-friendly D320i. The scribing laser, one of three in the D-Series range, permanently applies codes to a variety of materials at low to high production speeds, and is capable of producing unlimited lines of text in any orientation, and in many fonts and sizes.

“Maria Harris, our factory manager, felt that by introducing a solution that diminished the need for human intervention, whereby someone would need to be checking the packs and labels for accuracy, we could gain considerable time and cost savings that would allow us to increase our production capacity,” says Gaskin.

“We decided to move away from thermal labels in the hope we would no longer need to check consistency of the codes on the boxes,” he adds. “When Domino approached us with the D320i laser, the high-quality results produced by the laser looked like the perfect solution to our needs.”

Lines are now operator-free
Since the installation of the lasers, Gaskin, Harris, and the rest of the Lakes team say they have reaped the rewards and are now so confident in the fully integrated lasers and the quality they produce, there is no longer a need for an operator to supervise the five packing lines, which are now fully automated.

Says Harris, “The D320i lasers were seamlessly installed and integrated with the robot packers that are fed via a conveyor system from five lanes on the egg grader. The main issue that we have with thermal labels is achieving consistently accurate label positioning; this requires ongoing monitoring and adjustment. The lasers therefore save on labor as well as on labels.

“The D320i’s are fully integrated, so the lines stop automatically if there is a problem, which we are delighted to say has so far been very seldom. In addition to being extremely reliable and efficient, the quality of the codes is excellent, and the laser can be used on plastic, polystyrene, or pulp fiber packs, giving us clear and precise results every time. Our team has found them easy to use, and one major advantage is that we don’t need to contend with replacing consumables, as is the case with labelers, resulting in reduced downtime and further cost savings.”

Concludes Gaskin, “Overall, we are delighted with the D320i’s and feel we have been innovative in our choice to introduce them. The lasers have certainly upgraded our lines, and the time and cost savings, quality, and speed are a fantastic improvement that has been seen by all. As any business does, we are looking forward to expanding ours further, and really feel that now we certainly have the right tools for the job.”

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