Becoming the big cheese of a global industry doesn’t just happen without a lot of hard work, leading-edge product innovation and a good use of modern automation technologies.
All those things that have enabled French processed cheese producer Bel cultivate a huge and loyal customer base around the world, with its global cheese brands such as Laughing Cow, Kiri, Babybel, Boursin and Leerdammer becoming perennial favorites at dinner tables and wine-and-cheese parties in than 120 countries—with an estimated 10 million of its La vache qui rit cheese portions alone consumed worldwide daily.
Operating 26 manufacturing plants around the world—including six facilities across France to supply the domestic market—maintaining an efficient supply chain across its operations is vital to the Bel’s bottom-line results.
According to Bel, achieving this goal on a daily basis has become a lot more easier in the last couple of years since the installation innovative, leading-edge product identification (product ID) systems—manufactured by the U.K.-based product coding/marking equipment group Domino Printing Sciences plc.—at all six of its French factories.
The multi-plant installation of Domino C-Series plus outer case coders has enabled Bel has been able to ensure complete reliability of its outer case coding and marking requirements right across its French production sites, according to the company.
At Bel’s production plant in Lons-le-Saunier, one of its largest, Domino C-Series plus coders are employed to print high-quality, 300-dpi (dots per inch) alphanumeric codes and graphics directly onto secondary packaging across several packaging lines running Bel’s bestselling Laughing Cow, Apéricube and Pic & Croc products.
Each of these lines is equipped with a Domino C6000+ outer case coder to apply essential date, batch, hour, minute, and line number information, while a recently-installed Domino M-Series print-and-apply labeler takes care of Bel’s pallet labeling requirements, as well as apply ad hoc end-of-line stickers for various marketing promotions.
According to Bel’s purchasing manager Philippe Richy, using Domino C-Series plus enables the company to use innovative direct scan-to-print technology to achieve 100-percent error-free product coding of real-time variable data for total traceability compliance.
“Each of our Domino C6000+ coders is linked directly via an Ethernet cable to a handheld scanner, which reads barcode information from a hard-copy production order,” Richy explains.
“This eliminates the need for an operator to manually type in the required data, which inevitably led to the occasional error in the past,” he adds.
“The operator simply needs to enter the pallet number and scan the barcode, and the C6000+ does the rest,” says Richy, adding that the coders’ direct scan-to-print configuration has enhanced the efficiency of the Lons facility’s workflow.
“Basically, we avoid the need for a PC and controller linked to the production line, and instead utilize a faster system that is both extremely user-friendly and trustworthy,” he states.
“At the same time, we no longer have to worry about downtime due to coding issues, thanks to the high dependability of the C6000+ coders.”
According to Richy, the Domino the C- and M-Series systems have worked out so well that Bel has recently commenced trial runs of Domino’s A300+ continuous inkjet printers for small-character printing of primary packaging, as well as the high-performance S-Series plus laser coders.