Date Code Printing for Premium Products
Ugo Foods produces branded and private label fresh pasta, noodles, breads, pesto and desserts at its Hertfordshire factory. It supplies its premium Dell’Ugo and Ugo Thrive allergy-free ranges to supermarket retailers and wholesalers.
The company operates 24 hours a day, with five production lines producing filled pastas, unfilled pastas, noodles for food service, street foods, gluten-free fresh pasta and pesto. Dell’Ugo, the longest established fresh pasta brand in the UK, is available in supermarkets and wholesale companies.
During the first few months of the Covid-19 pandemic, Ugo Foods was part of the effort to keep supermarket shelves stocked with pasta, consolidating its lines to core products and increasing production by around 250%.
The company uses three alphaJET continuous inkjets from PrintSafe. Two of these are mounted on conveyors, and one of them on a udaFORMAXX standalone sleeve and carton coding machine, also supplied by PrintSafe. The inkjets are used to print expiry dates and batch numbers on packs that can’t be coded with thermal transfer as part of the flow-wrap process.
Coding on Sleeves
For years, Ugo Foods had used a UDA-150 sleeve and carton feeder from PrintSafe for printing codes on multi-pack and other product sleeves. Engineering Manager, Steve West, recently replaced this with the newer model udaFORMAXX-C. He explains: “We had an old sleeving machine that was here when I joined the company four years ago. We’ve been doing sleeves of various types for the whole time I’ve been here. We can’t overpackage things so our sleeves generally go around two or three-pack products. With the new machine, it’s much easier to feed and code these larger sleeves.”
The udaFORMAXX takes sleeves from a stack in the infeed hopper and moves them underneath the integrated alphaJET continuous inkjet printer. The packs are held firmly in place on the conveyor-style belt for accurate print positioning. Operators can easily adjust the position of the infeed guides for different sleeve sizes – for example when changing between large multi-pack sleeves and the smaller sleeves for pots of pesto.
Continuous Inkjet Coding on Filled Packs
While the udaFORMAXX handles Ugo Foods’ sleeve coding, two further alphaJET continuous inkjets (one black ink, one white ink) code other products, including speciality breads. Steve West says, “We’re increasingly finding that we need to produce ahead of time and freeze products, rather than doing lots of short runs. This gives us the ability to respond very quickly to changing customer requirements. We use the inkjets to date-code products once they have been brought back to ambient ready for supply.”
Reliable Date and Batch Code Printing
An experienced Engineering Manager, Steve West has worked with a number of different continuous inkjet suppliers. He is complimentary about the alphaJETs. He says, “I’ve dealt with lots of different inkjet companies over the years. As an engineer, I want to get under the lid and know more about the inkjet machines and I would say that the alphaJETs are probably some of the best that I have worked with.”