Inkjet printer cracks egg coding challenge for Spanish producer


A Spanish egg producer is using a coding solution from Markem-Imaje to mark 180,000 eggs an hour, while cutting operational costs by at least 20%.

The continuous inkjet solution allows the company to change consumables without stopping the printers and reduces the number of printhead cleaning operations, while still meeting its traceability obligations with a high-quality code on each egg.

Based in Valencia, Spain, Huevos Guillén Group produces over 150 million dozen chicken and quail eggs a year. Under the European Egg Production Model, the European Union requires all eggs to be traceable to their source. Each egg must be coded, indicating the farming system of the laying hens, the country of origin and the identification of the packing center. This improves safety for consumers during recalls, particularly when eggs have been removed from their cartons. It also enables more targeted recalls for producers – saving them money and helping protect their reputations.
The product’s fragility, its curved shape and the high production levels of many commercial egg producers pose challenges for any printer. The varying size and shape of eggs can lead to distorted images, while each code must be clearly legible against the brown or white surface of the eggshell. It must also withstand boiling.
To meet these challenges, Huevos Guillén chose a specially configured version of Markem-Imaje’s 9450 continuous inkjet (CIJ) coder. Capable of coding up to 250,000 eggs an hour, it uses a constant flow of ink, sprayed from nozzles directly onto the egg surface, at whatever angle is required. Intelli’Jet technology controls, measures and adjusts the speed of the jet, in light of environmental conditions, to ensure perfect drop placement, quality and code consistency.
Up to 4 lines of code, as well as logos, can be printed.
The Inks are designed and approved for direct food contact and are available in pink or blue to suit white or brown eggs.
The high printhead resolution and the contrast of the FC311 ink developed by Markem-Imaje enables more characters to be printed in less space, meaning all required information fits easily, and is of a durable, high quality.
Mistakes are avoided through the coder’s Intelli’Ink system, which uses a built-in sensor to prevent the insertion of incorrect ink cartridges. Costly downtime is prevented and running costs are better managed, since the embedded software allows producers to monitor the use of consumables, and change them when needed, without stopping the line.
The coder has been certified for use on egg sorting machines from Moba, one of the leading brands in the egg sorting market. It can easily be installed on Moba egg production lines on a ‘plug and play’ basis. Unlike other brands which are similarly certified, the 9450 does not require an external PC to run it.
It also offers a range of additional features not available with other printers commonly used to code eggs. It can operate from a standard 7-inch color touch screen and its online guiding system means operators gain time when starting or stopping print runs, changing cartridges and checking printer status.
Mario Carbonell, Technical Manager, Huevos Guillén, says: “With the 9450, we can reduce our operating costs by at least 20%. It allows us to change consumables without stopping the printers and reduces the number of printhead cleaning operations. In addition, the smart ink cartridges help reduce human error and optimize everyday tasks. With the new equipment, we can be sure that all the eggs marketed will be perfectly coded.”
The coders are provided and serviced via Markem-Imaje’s leasing program which helps companies avoid upfront capital outlays, turning such costs into a periodic, fixed fee.
“The program enables us to control our coding and maintenance service costs and thereby avoid production downtime, with the guarantee of being able to change our equipment after a few years,” observes Carbonell.

To enable safe consumption and traceability, Huevos Guillén prints 3 lines of text onto its eggs.

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