On 27 March 2006, Imaje signed a Preferred Supplier Agreement with Nestrade, Nestl World Trade Corporation.
Through this agreement, Imaje have undertaken to provide consistently high quality services and equipment to the Nestl Group worldwide, whilst reducing Nestls coding costs and increasing their coding efficiency and product traceability.
Nestl-Schller, a giant in the ice cream field, have recently had to adapt their processes to comply with the new traceability regulations in food packaging. Not surprisingly, when Nestl-Schller needed a coding solution to suit their demanding environment, Imaje were able to supply the equipment that met their requirements.
In high season, the Nestl-Schller site in Prenszlau produces millions of ice cream sticks in a variety of flavours. Once shaped, these ice cream products are individually wrapped in sealed OPP film and then packed in cardboard boxes. Before European regulation CE 178/2002 came into effect, only the cardboard boxes were marked. To improve product traceability and to meet the new regulation, Nestl-Schller decided to identify each individually wrapped ice cream stick with the name of the manufacturing plant, the production date, the shift code and a use-by date. The chosen marking system had to guarantee high quality, long-lasting marking. Equipment had to be reliable, capable of high product throughput rates and withstand the wet and cold production environment. Above all, the marking solution had to fit onto manufacturing lines that had little space to spare.
After six weeks of successful trials, pleased with the start-up and the reliability of the equipment, Nestl-Schller opted for S8 inkjet printers. In all, four S8 twin-head printers and one S8 single head printer equip each of the three production lines at the site. To save space, the control panels are located on a platform above the lines, using 8 metre long umbilical cables.
To mark the OPP film prior to folding and filling, the print heads (nine per line) have been installed next to each other in an offset arrangement. At the end of the manufacturing line, one S8 printer codes the grouping boxes. All the printers are connected to a central computer equipped with Imaje Control Centre software that programmes messages and monitors printer status at all times.
In this cold and wet environment, drying time for the ink was a tricky problem to solve. Jana Rasche, Imaje sales engineer in Germany, points out, Since the heads are offset, drying time is not the same from the first head to the last. We decided to install tiny air nozzles on the last print heads to accelerate ink drying, thus guaranteeing excellent marking quality under harsh conditions.
With almost 1500 printers already installed in Nestl plants across the world, the Preferred Supplier Agreement serves not only to consolidate and strengthen the good working relationship already enjoyed by many Imaje subsidiaries and Nestl plants, but also to extend this to other Nestl organisations worldwide.