Ekro needed a faster and more flexible printing and identification labelling system to address increasingly stringent industry regulations, manufacturing expansion and increasing customer demand. Avery Dennison provided a complete solution for Ekro, including AP 5.4 printers, compatible consumables and customized software.
In addition to enabling Ekro to accelerate its printing processes, the intelligent Avery Dennison solution optimises traceability a major requirement for Ekro's customers. The new and improved printing and labelling solution also ensures that Ekro is able to fully comply with both European and wider international meat industry regulations.
Ekro, which was originally established in 1952, has been part of the VanDrie Group since 1994 and is a highly respected, forward looking company that processes more than 400,000 animals per year from whole carcasses to ready-to-eat or ready-to-cook consumer products. In order to successfully manage the increase in demand for its products, Ekro expanded its operations space to allow for extra production, staff and machinery.
Ekro's production process consists of three phases: de-boning, packaging and dispatching. Ekro processes 240 calves per hour, which generates approximately 100kg of meat in a wide variety of different meat cuts. To ensure total traceability, a label must be applied to every piece of meat during each phase of the process. These manufacturing requirements severely test Ekro's printing and labelling systems at peak production times.
The previous printing and labelling system lacked the print capacity and software to meet the company's speed and flexibility requirements. These inefficiencies had a serious impact on both Ekro's processes and its overall operational efficiency. In addition, the previous labelling system was unable to produce non-Latin characters and was limited to printing a very small amount of information on each label. This was an increasingly critical issue for Ekro, as both client expectations and international legislation require printed labels to display many diverse characters and symbols.
Following a thorough evaluation of the existing system, Avery Dennison suggested a complete identification and labelling solution, which included a printing system using the fast and reliable Avery Dennison AP 5.4 printers combined with customised labelling software. This new solution meets Ekro's requirements for a larger printing capacity, optimal traceability, greater detail and more flexible information on each label. Scanning the barcode on the package provides the user with all the required product identification information, such as weight, number of pieces and the type of cut. The ID code is now printed onto the label, which enables staff members to track each cut of meat back to the animal, ensuring complete visibility.
Jos Rouwendaal said: "It is a perfect solution - our requests and demands were so large and diverse, and the software, printing systems and consumables had to be fully compatible. It was also essential that we work with a reliable partner who specialises in this area - Avery Dennison ticked all the right boxes."
Jos Rouwendaal added: "Every country has its own very specific preferences when it comes to veal products. We need to know exactly which meat is exported to which country, even when it is already packed into boxes."
The speed that produce is sent to market is vital in the fresh meat sector. Avery Dennison's printing solutions are able to handle a peak load of 10 print tasks per second. This high performance eliminates any downtime in the production process, and increases operational efficiency.
The software provided by Avery Dennison also played an essential role in Ekro's product presentation and data management by allowing a label to be completely customized to suit each client's requirements.
"The solution allows us to provide a better service for our clients, with labels containing all the necessary information. Among other details, this includes the client's log and internal product numbers and barcodes. We have improved our operational efficiency since we can now print labels in any language - a major step forward for us, as we have many international clients," said Jos Rouwendaal.
Following the introduction of the complete Avery Dennison printing and labelling solution, Ekro has noted improvements in a number of key performance areas including speed, reliability and visibility which have all contributed to reaching the goal of total traceability and efficiency throughout the supply chain.
The new system has made an immediate positive impact, as Jos Rouwendaal explained:
"A client needed 28,000 packages of meat to be delivered, each with a label in the client's native language containing the company's logo and barcode, while remaining compliant with sector regulations. Thanks to the Avery Dennison solution, all of this was achieved well within the two-day deadline set by the client. Overall, with the customised Avery Dennison software, AP 5.4 printers, labels, ribbon and excellent after-sales service, we are able to meet all of our clients' needs. To us, this means the new identification and labelling solution is almost as important as the product itself."