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Coder saves dough for bakery

25 September 2016

The Celtic Bakers, a north London producer of hand-crafted breads, cakes and patisserie, was one of the first users of a new entry level offline sleeve and carton coder which is offering it labour and label cost savings when compared to its previously used hand labelling method. 

The Celtic Bakers supplies many top London restaurants, hotels, delicatessens and food halls, as well as producing for premium labels. Its pastries, cakes and sourdoughs are made fresh each day on site. 

Although keen to adhere to its artisan production principles the bakery has embraced technology in its packaging processes, particularly where this enhances product appearance. So when the company heard about Rotech’s new RF-Lite  sleeve and carton coder as a potential replacement for its hand-gun labelling operation, it was keen to trial the offline date marking system to apply production codes and best before dates to cartons. 

A spokesperson for the company explained further: “We were using a hand gun to apply pre-printed labels to the end-flaps of the cartons but this was slow going, and repetitive work for staff. We were on the look-out for a better way of coding these products, so the launch of the RF-Lite was perfectly timed for us.” 

Launched early in 2016 the RF-Lite is designed to offer an affordable coding model for artisan operations and other small food companies looking to cost-effectively automate their offline date marking process.

“In developing the RF-Lite, we were fulfilling a mission to get the right quality code, in the right place at a cost that is right for the customer. We wanted to bring the benefits of automated marking within the reach of smaller food manufacturers,” said Richard Pether, director at Rotech. 

The offline coding machine takes flat cardboard sleeves or cartons from a hopper and feeds them through a printer so they can be coded. It then stacks them again ready for use. The RF-Lite is able to handle pack shapes and sizes ranging from 40 x 70mm to 300 x 200mm and is said to be easily adjustable between sizes. The machine’s linear speed is 60m/sec, which means it can typically handle 200-300 sleeves per minute, depending on sleeve size.

Rotech delivered the system to the bakery at the beginning of March which has allowed The Celtic Bakers to print batches of cartons offline on-demand at much higher speeds than it was able to do manually.

“Using the label gun method, we were doing a box of 300 cartons in five to ten minutes. The Rotech machine is able to run off 300 sleeves every minute. This means we can bake a batch of crispbreads, run off the corresponding number of cartons and get them packed straight away. It makes the coding element of the process quicker and far less painful,” said a company spokesperson. 

The RF-Lite can be integrated with any coding engine, but given that the bakery is producing luxury food items, Rotech recommended it use a high quality thermal inkjet (TIJ) technology.
“With premium goods, producers can’t afford to risk poor quality coding that detracts from the overall appearance and image of the product. High resolution TIJ gives crisp, clear, well defined codes and at a cheaper cost-per-print than, say continuous ink jet,” said Pether. 

“Applying the codes in this way improves the overall pack appearance and it saves money, as it does do away with the labels altogether. We have not had the RF-Lite on-site for long, but it has certainly made its presence felt. This compact little coder has made a huge difference to our packaging operation by dramatically reducing the time taken to code cartons. It has shown us that small changes can yield big improvements without costing the earth,” concludes The Celtic Bakers spokesperson.

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