Rotech coding solutions boost packing operations at the English Cheesecake Company

An offline RF2 feeding system fitted with an iJet thermal inkjet coding system from Rotech has helped The English Cheesecake Company boost the speed and efficiency of its packing operations, allowing the company to date code a pallet's worth of cheesecakes in less than 2 minutes.

The English Cheesecake Company, based in West London, makes a wide range of luxury cakes for variety of customers, including Ocado and Makro. The products range from individual mini-cheesecakes to giant cheesecakes that serve 60 people. Most of the products are supplied blast frozen, with an outer sleeve and best before date applied before they enter the freezer. Rather than printing best before dates onto the filled cheesecake boxes, the new RF2 system prints them onto the flattened sleeves before they are erected.

"The RF2 system can code thousands of flat pack cartons at once so it's very efficient," says commercial director Josh Laurier. "Many of our products are sold to the wholesale market. These cakes tend to be bigger than retail versions, so it's much more convenient to carry out the printing on the flat sleeves, rather than printing onto the completed packages, which are quite bulky to handle."

The RF2 feeding system takes a stack of flat sleeves and separates and feeds them rapidly through a compact, mess-free i-Jet thermal ink jet coder before re-stacking them on the other side. This enables the system to position the date codes precisely and virtually eliminates smudges and errors to deliver a high-quality result. "With the RF2 system from Rotech, it takes one or two minutes to code the sleeves. That's up to 204 cakes" says Josh. "With our old system, the operator had to position each box manually on a conveyor belt for coding, so it was much slower."

The English Cheesecake Company was founded in the late 1980s but has recently been going through significant changes, moving to new premises and winning BRC Grade A accreditation. This has enabled them to focus increasingly on the retail market and the company has recently won a contract to supply chilled cheesecakes to Waitrose. This called for an in-line coding solution to add dates to the erect boxes containing the chilled cakes on the same day they're produced and dispatched. The company therefore ordered a second date coder from Rotech.

"Unlike the frozen cakes, the chilled products are perishable and need to be printed with their best before dates on the day they're dispatched. We needed an in-line solution," says Josh. The company opted for a second Rotech i-Jet thermal inkjet printer. The two systems use the same print cartridges, simplifying stockholding.

Each packaged cheesecake is manually placed on a conveyor and a slider rig positions the box under the i-Jet printer in precisely the right position to print the code in the allotted white space.

The Cheesecake Company hasn't started using this second system yet – the first deliveries to Waitrose are set to begin in early 2018 – but Josh says that the high level of service from Rotech in the original RF2 installation project was an important factor in choosing another Rotech system: "The timeliness and level of support has always been good. We're already very happy with the performance of the RF2 and looking forward to using Rotech's in-line solution in the New Year."

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