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Automated coding solution for Booja-Booja

06 May 2019

A luxury free-from confectionery brand needed an automated solution for date coding its products, due to increasing demand for its products. Its solution has brought the company cost and manpower time savings. 

Booja-Booja has been making luxury truffles and ice cream alternatives from its base near Norwich since 1999.  Today, the company employs over 50 people and supplies its branded products to a range of wholesalers and retail customers, including Sainsbury, Waitrose, Holland & Barrett and Amazon.  The company also exports to Australia and Germany.  

The company has designed its packaging is designed to reflect the quality of its products, but its traditional coding process for truffles involved sticking data labels to the outer sleeves using a label gun. This was a time-consuming task and sometimes resulted in less-than-perfect positioning.  

Tim Morgan, production manager at Booja-Booja explained the company’s dilemma: “For traceability, we need to have best before dates on our truffles but doing it manually was inefficient from both a time and cost perspective. Also, having an old-fashioned sticker on the pack didn’t really chime with our beautiful packaging.” 

With truffle production sometimes reaching over 1,000 cases per day, these labelling issues were becoming more time-consuming as the company continues to expand. “We are growing every year, and are constantly looking for ways to make improvements to our production line. Bringing in the RF Lite system makes our coding operation leaner and there’s also a welcome cost saving,” continued Morgan.  

Transforming operations 
Morgan decided to look at automated coding solutions, and spoke to Rotech, which was able to offer a demonstration. Morgan liked what he saw and, since installation, Rotech’s RF Lite with iJet TIJ (thermal inkjet) printer has transformed coding operations, freeing up substantial man hours and supporting the company’s ongoing expansion.  

“Today, rather than applying labels by hand with a labelling gun, we can now load up the RF Lite with flat sleeves, walk away and get on with something else,” said Morgan. 

The RF Lite takes flat cardboard sleeves from a hopper, feeds them through an inkjet printer so they can be date-coded. It then stacks them again ready for use. The printer can handle a variety of sleeve shapes and sizes and it only takes seconds to swap between sizes without special tools or training. This was an important as the company currently uses five different sleeve sizes. A typical run for its truffle sleeves is currently 700 or 800 at a time taking under one hour.  

Thin, light sleeve materials can be problematic for printing solutions that use a ‘push’ or ‘shuttle feed’ mechanism. The design of the RF Lite overcomes this potential issue as sleeves are stacked vertically in a hopper, where friction wheels separate them and feed them one by one to the inkjet printer. The hopper can also be easily adjusted to different sleeve sizes. 

Print quality is another important consideration - both for legibility to meet legal requirements and to guarantee a high-end appearance. The iJet can print at 600 dpi. It also uses a sealed cartridge, so there’s no need to handle messy inks and solvents.  

It took just one month from approaching Rotech to having the new system up and running. Rotech engineers helped with the hardware installation and Booja-Booja downloaded the software. “We needed a little support from Rotech to figure out how to get it set up to do exactly what we wanted,” said Morgan. “Now it’s running like clockwork and we have no hesitation recommending it to others.” 

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