Green Partners saves by switching to Rotech direct carton printing
One of Europe’s largest supplier of cut flowers and bouquets in Europe, Green Partners, has reduced its annual carton printing costs by £48,000 by switching from hand labelling to using Rotech direct carton printers.
‘The cost savings have been significant for us,’ said operations manager John Berry. ‘A price per print study was recently carried out in Holland where they use the same printers and it worked out at 2.6p per thousand prints.’
From its UK facilities in Spalding, Lincolnshire, Green Partners processes and distributes in excess of 1.6 million boxes of flowers each year to supermarket chains throughout the UK. The company’s flowers are prepared and carefully wrapped by hand before being placed in buckets, which are then boxed, ready for shipping – this allows the retailers to simply lift a bucket full of flowers out of the box and place it directly onto the display stand.
The process of applying outer labels to packed boxes of flowers was also previously done by hand, however, it was inefficient and becoming increasingly costly.
The labels for the boxes were being printed using desktop printers which were expensive to repair, adding to the cost of maintenance, as well as the cost of the labels and printer ribbons.
Two staff members were assigned to labelling boxes – one to print the labels and one to hand apply them; one person had to hand apply an average of 28,000 labels per week, increasing to up to 72,000 labels during peak seasons such as Christmas and Mother’s Day.
Finding a cost effective solution soon became a priority for Green Partners. It had identified the problems and the associated costs – and then needed help with choosing a solution that would easily integrate with its production lines.
UK coding and marking specialist Rotech Machines was contacted by John Berry, who was interested in the large area printers following a previous successful installation in Holland. Rotech service engineer Darren Golder visited the Spalding site to carry out a survey, evaluating the production process and printing requirements.
Flowers in buckets travel along five different low line conveyors – making it easy for operators to insert the flowers. The buckets are then manually placed in boxes which travel past a strapping machine before labels are applied.
The ideal solution was to fit a large area printer onto each line, which prints the information directly onto the box just prior to strapping.
Rotech installed a Rotech Seiko X72 printer onto each of the five lines. The printer uses the latest printhead technology to apply high resolution, large area prints directly onto any porous surface – ideal for surfaces such as cardboard, paper and wood.
The X72 uses Freeflow technology. The printhead draws the ink from the main tank, consistently applying high quality prints to areas of up to 72 mm in height at speeds of up to 45 metres per minute.
One of the many benefits of the large area Seiko printers is that they can slot so easily onto existing conveyor lines. As a manufacturer of coding and marking systems, Rotech was able to produce simple, fully adjustable frames to affix each printer directly onto each line, allowing users to easily adjust the printer height or position as required.
Each printer also comes with its own 20” full colour Windows OS touchscreen controller which fits with the ERP system, allowing the company to schedule line runs and print information so that the entire process is automated.
Green Partners has made significant savings across a number of areas. Since installing the X72 printers just under a year ago, it has saved around £2000 on printheads and maintenance, £1000 which was previously spent on labels, and around £45,000 on labour costs.
John Berry said, ‘The simplicity of the units has been the key point, and the ease of integration made it possible to move and run in everyday production. When we recently moved to our new premises, it was made simpler due to the simple framework that allowed us to quickly continue production.’
Green Partners now has no downtime – it simply sl the ink tanks as required (indicated by the printer controller) whilst the printer is still printing.
Since the initial investment, Green Partners has installed a further two X72 printers, bringing the total to seven.