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The vast range of confectionery ingredients that are handled by the OV Group are now labelled on equipment and software supplied by Cobalt. And the solution was found following a visit to the PPMA Show.
The OV Group is a confectionery ingredients and decoration specialist with multiple locations across Britain, mainland Europe and Australia. The company’s Leominster site is tasked with, amongst other things, packaging and logistics for a range of retail clients. This involves processing bulk finished products and repacking them into retail pack units, which are either shipped to retailers or warehoused on behalf of customers to cope with seasonal demand.
With a large number of retail customers to supply, from national supermarket chains to local independents, and a huge array of finished products, batch code labelling requirements are extensive and production line output changes frequently.
Prior to embarking on an automation project, the company relied on hand labelling to cope with the variety of labels applied but recognised that labelling automation was the only long-term answer. This was partly driven by a need to improve efficiency, but equally to free up human resources to focus on other tasks.
Seeking a solution, assistant operations manager Chris McHugh visited the PPMA Show a couple of years ago to identify a print and apply labelling system and a partner that could deliver what the business required.
“It was at PPMA that I became aware of Cobalt,” says McHugh. “I was specifically looking for an industrial print and apply partner and having visited the stands of all the suppliers present, I was particularly impressed with the Cobalt machines.
“They appeared very well built and also had a small footprint which met my criteria.”
With the introductions made, a site visit was organised to better understand the exact requirements of the project so that an appropriate solution could be recommended.
“In this case, that was for a pair of Nexus 20 dual action print and apply machines which are perfectly suited to the needs of this project for a number of reasons,” explains Chris Hunt, UK sales director at Cobalt. “The machines are able to print on a single face or can apply two labels to the front and side in a single process and in a variety of positions.
“This adaptability and flexibility is incredibly useful in this application due to the varying label needs of different retail environments.”
Cobalt’s approach, which is delivered via the Nexus 20 dual action machine, works by independently printing and applying two labels for extra flexibility.
To handle the high volume of different labels, Microsoft Dynamics 365 ERP integrates with NiceLabel software to dynamically specify the label content which in turn allows the print and apply machine to determine if one or two labels are required and in which locations.
The system uses Cobalt Sentinel Onboard validation, which validates that the label has been successfully applied and the barcode reads to an acceptable level. For Chris McHugh, the result is just what he was looking for.
“We’ve been able to improve our efficiency, become more adaptable and flexible and we’ve been able to free up staff to work on other things, which is very important when it’s harder than ever to recruit good team members,” he says.
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