Packing cherries

Unimark Identification Service
Thursday, 29 March, 2007

Since October 2006, the Unimark 5200 wax coder has been used for every one of the 200,000 cartons (approx) that are packed at the Cherry King specialist cherry packing plant in the Western Riverina city of Griffith (570 km west of Sydney).

Each year, Cherry King packs approximately 1000 t of cherries mainly sourced from growers throughout southern NSW and central Victoria. All of the packing is carried out in a three-month period from mid October. Partly because the season is so short and partly because Cherry King is located at least 6 h from technical help, its coding system has to be reliable.

The company needed a new coding system and put its requirement out to tender. Owner and plant manager, Oscar Roche briefed the potential suppliers. "I was impressed that Unimark went away and thought outside the square," explains Oscar. "Unimark put forward a simple solution with multiple benefits that just keeps performing.

"I particularly liked the fact that throughout the tender process Unimark replied when it said it would, it delivered what I actually asked for and it followed up with all its commitments on time," says Oscar.

An important requirement for Cherry King is that with any new system, the software has to link in with the company's existing database called Packmanager, which is provided by Goulburn Valley Custom Software in Shepparton. Unimark listened to this and made sure everything was compatible.

Cherry King selected the Unimark 5200 series coder and its Touch Dry Ink to provide a safe, clean and reliable online case coding system. This series of coders use wax resin, which is melted to liquid inside the unit reservoir. Messages are printed with liquid wax, which dries on contact with substrate to create clear and crisp high definition images, codes and text prints.

The project/integration engineer at Unimark, Scott Smith, says that up to 15 different products can be uniquely marked and channelled to a single Markem 5200 wax jet coder.

"A Colour Vision scanner is used to identify the product and transmit the information to the coder via Unimark custom software located on a networked PC," explains Scott.

"With changes by the minute to incoming orders at Cherry King and the requirement to channel particular grades of cherries to any particular conveyor, the system has to be able to accommodate 'on-the-fly' changes to the product identification."

Scott points out that the Unimark software allows the operator to input new information directly at the production line, and this new input then directly accesses the relevant live data in the production database. The Unimark custom software also logs printed data for use in inventory and order management reporting.

Oscar Roche sums up: "Since the Unimark 5200 wax jet coder has been installed, I can walk away from the plant and not worry about that area of the operation - which I was not able to do previously."

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