By Melissa Donovan
Part 1 of 2
Inkjet marking and coding devices are integral to busy production facilities. When implemented correctly, they streamline the manufacturing process—no matter where they are placed in the production line.
Industry verticals from every background benefit from marking and coding systems, whether it be a light bulb manufacturer or food and beverage. Adding inline marking capabilities offers faster turnaround to customers and minimizes costly errors and waste.
Growing with a New Solution
In business since 1924, Calavo Growers, Inc. of CA is a major player in the state’s avocado industry. It also procures and markets other fresh produce in addition to manufacturing and distributing of prepared avocado products and salsas.
The produce giant ships 12 million boxes of avocados annually to produce wholesalers, retailers, and restaurants worldwide. Its 53,000 square foot manufacturing facility in Santa Paula, CA that contains over 23 production lines.
To mark its packaging, the company was using a standard Product Traceability Initiative (PTI) labeling solution. “Our previous marking solution was very expensive and completely lacking in after-sales support. Data integration issues were not uncommon and unfortunately when they cropped up there was no one we could call to help us sort out technical problems,” explains Joseph Malagone, operations manager, Calavo.
Lacking vendor support, Calavo relied on third-party providers, which increased operating costs. Knowing it couldn’t continue down to this path, it looked for a new solution. Top of mind was using an advanced technology that streamlined the marking process by direct printing to its packaging as well as being backed by a reliable and responsive support team.
It turned to Matthews Marking Systems and ultimately decided on an automated and centralized MPERIA marking and coding solution running on thermal inkjet (TIJ) technology.
Matthews Marking Systems came out to the Santa Paula site and conducted an analysis of the facility, which led to the recommendation of the MPERIA. A successful demonstration of the device finalized Calavo’s decision.
The MPERIA was installed in four days, without any custom adjustments, into Calavo’s existing roller conveyor. “We didn’t even have to adjust our box design. Everything came together seamlessly to deliver a GTIN barcode readable rate of 100 percent. We were really impressed,” admits Malagone.
Able to work with any hardware or software, MPERIA allows for the centralization of the marking process, which simplifies initial setup and allows for scalability. The system enables consolidated control over all marking and coding—whether from the factory floor or the production manager’s office—across primary, secondary, and tertiary lines.
In the Santa Paula plant, Calavo’s final configuration includes 22 L50 printheads with TIJ technology and one MPERIA Standard Controller. An individual printhead is placed on each drop line, which eliminated 100 percent of the data integration errors from its previous PTI solution, as each drop line manages its own coding information.
Not only was one of the initial goals—streamlining the marking process by printing directly to packaging—achieved, but the second requirement—a trusted partner—was as well. “We chose Matthews Marking Systems because it is an extremely reputable and reliable coding solution company with a long, trackable history. Being almost 100 years old ourselves, we value history and reliability,” notes Malagone.
Results Are In
By implementing TIJ technology into its production line, Calavo increased efficiencies, reduced costs, bolstered security, and relies on quality after-sales support.
MPERIA offers full automation and combined with eliminating labels, line workers no longer need to manually apply PTI codes. These line workers were reallocated to more profitable and productive tasks. Efficiency is also increased since the operations team manages changes and updates in the centralized system in much less time.
Costs are reduced because label materials are no longer necessary. Calavo minimized costs to about one-fifth of what it was once paying before printing direct to packaging. The cartridge-based system also plays a hand in cost reduction, as maintenance issues are hardly an issue, Calavo eliminates its once regular maintenance costs.
With tier user access, the MPERIA system boosts security. Different levels of user access guard against accidental setting changes, which could create errors and/or jeopardize productivity.
Malagone and the rest of the team appreciate the high level of support its received from Matthews Marking Systems since the MPERIA was installed. “From the very beginning of the proposal process to the demonstration and installation to the training and after-sales support, the entire experience exceeded our expectations,” he adds.
Taking all of these benefits into account, Calavo already estimated that it will take less than a year for the TIJ-based MPERIA system to pay for itself. Return on investment in under a year—that’s not something every new piece of hardware can offer.
The success of the Santa Paula plant implementation meant looking into integrating the MPERIA into the company’s other production facilities. There are currently plans to install a system at Calavo’s Uruapan, Mexico location within the year.
Implementing a marking and coding system into its production line allows Calavo to focus on its real job—ensuring fresh avocados and other produce reach its customers. Cutting out labels by printing directly to its packaging using the Matthews Marking Systems MPERIA with TIJ technology enhanced its production process while offering its team peace of mind.
The next article in this two-part series spotlights another manufacturer that utilizes a marking and coding system in its facility.
Jun2020, Industrial Print Magazine