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Premium car care company, Autoglym, has installed new thermal inkjet technology (TIJ) on its bottling line, which has resulted in cost savings of around 33% on the batch coding process.

Supplied and installed by Rotech Machines, a leading UK manufacturer of coding and marking solutions, the TIJ technology has increased output, reduced labour costs and gives Autoglym greater coding flexibility. “Since installing the new printer, we’ve increased output by a third and no longer need any additional labour to label bottles” said Autoglym Project Manager, Damien McKenzie. “The printer is so simple and effective – it sits neatly on the conveyor and requires little intervention, other than changing the settings on the software. This single printer has solved all of our previous issues and delivered some significant cost savings”.

Established in 1965, Autoglym’s award-winning products are distributed and sold worldwide, and they’ve earned two Royal Warrants along the way.

Operating from its factory in Letchworth, Hertfordshire, the in-house process of batch coding products is fundamental for global distribution and traceability. However, when the company looked more closely at this process, it was proving costly and inefficient.

Polishing up the coding process

Autoglym products come in a range of types and sizes including cans, jars and most notably, plastic bottles. Their products are shipped all over the world and, by nature of the product, they are used in ‘wet’ or harsh environments, so product labels need to be robust.

The primary product brand label is consistent for each product type, therefore requiring little intervention on the production line. However, on the bottles, the batch number and ‘best before’ codes are applied using a separate label because the information is constantly changing.

Traditionally, the batch and date code labels were printed and applied to the bottle by hand using a ticket gun, requiring additional labour and slowing down production. There was also a concern that this small, additional label may not always endure harsh environments – they needed to find a more reliable and cost-effective way of coding each bottle.

Rotech Sales Manager, Steve Ryan said “Autoglym were manually applying codes to 2.5 litre and 5 litre plastic bottles, printing black text in both standard English as well as Chinese characters for their Asian market. They needed to find an automated solution that was quicker, more reliable and more cost-efficient – one that would not interrupt the conveyor line. Importantly, the solution needed to be durable, to avoid any potential issues with the labels becoming damaged by moisture, and to prevent them from being removed”.

Coding that will stand the test of grime

The Integra TIJ printer was chosen because it is small, compact and ideal for integrating into small spaces or onto conveyor lines and produces high quality prints on just about all surfaces, leaving a highly durable print that will endure even wet environments.

TIJ is clean and reliable and requires no maintenance. The ‘click-in, click-out’ ink cartridge can print up to 400,000 clear, high-quality prints (up to 600dpi) – no mess and low consumable costs. Autoglym can now switch from black to red ink on specific products by simply swapping cartridges.

The required data is set through the iDesign format creation software, allowing Autoglym to create and edit their batch numbers, dates and times and line numbers, and switch to Chinese characters as required. For more information please visit www.rotechmachines.com.

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