transfer 'garontees' Cajun food pouch printing
A prominent Food & Seasonings company uses thermal-transfer
printers in-line with vertical form/fill/seal pouch machines
to comprehensively label its Cajun food and seasoning products
with ingredient lists, sequential numbering and other information,
in a range of foreign characters.
Cajun flavor from its headquarters to destinations across the globe, the company has spiced up its pouch-printing capabilities
to accommodate the detailed and varied information
requirements of its foodservice customers. The company
operates four production facilities; that between them, produce in excess of
2 million lb per week of frozen Cajun foods and dry-flowable
Cajun spices, seasonings and breadings.
Until several years ago, the company was able to meet
its customers' on-pack information requirements through
the use of a hot stamp coder that applied made-by and
use-by dates directly onto film pouchstock. But, with
changing labeling laws and with its customers distributing
more product overseas, the company needed a more flexible
system capable of printing a greater amount of information
cleanly and clearly onto the film.
The company specializes in custom
formulations for the multiunit foodservice segment. "We
have a very unique organization that understands the
challenges of both large and mid-size multiunit chains," says
the company's president and COO.
The company's primary products include various beans,
sauces and gravies, dried seasonings, biscuit mix and
breadings, all of which are individually formulated
to meet customers' unique taste preferences.
Each of the company's four plants specializes in certain
product areas. At one location, spices are packaged in
5-lb pouches on flour-packaging machines from General
Packaging Equipment Co. (www.generalpackaging.com ),
while in the location's small batch cook operation,
a Sealed Air ( www.cryovac.com )Cryovac vertical form/fill/seal
machine fills 2- to 5-lb pouches with Creole stew,
crawfish etouffee, barbequed black beans and jambalaya.
Another location is responsible for processing
and packaging the company's 5-lb bags of boil-in-bag
red beans, gravies and sauces, packed on two new Cryovac® Onpack
Model 2070 vertical pouch packaging systems.
Dry-flowable products, including more than 170 stockkeeping
units of flour, salt and spices, are packaged in another location, on Mira-Pak machines from J&J Mfg. Co., Inc.
(www.jjmanufacturing.com ) in pouch sizes ranging from
3.5-oz to 5-lb bags. Still, another location produces salt-based
gravies and marinades.
According to the company's director
of maintenance and engineering, the advent of new labeling
laws spurred the company's change in bag-printing systems. "We
could not put product labeling on the packages, which
is a requirement with the new rules about allergens," he
says. "Product labeling has really gotten a lot
stricter and has increased the amount of information
that has to be printed on packaging."
While the company considered other
printing systems, a company spokesperson stated that one of the reasons
it chose the EasyPrint system was due to its ability
to apply ink at a high-resolution (300 dpi) that could
withstand boil-in-bag product preparation. "We
can boil this bag and not lose the printing on it," he
explains. "The high-resin ribbon allows the print
to stay put."
Another selling point was the EasyPrint's
ability to print the
largest area of text, along with bar codes, logos
and real-time information. The EasyPrint i 5-in.
model has a print area of 534 in., which allows the company
to add individualized ingredient lists to each run
of products, along with an expiration date, and lot
and batch numbers that aid in tracing product and processes
when there is a problem.
"If foreign material is detected in our product,
sequential numbering helps us to determine where in
the batch we detected it, and it gives us the ability
to focus in on the source very quickly," says
a company spokesperson.
Also very important to the company was the EasyPrint's
flexibility. In the company's four plants, the system
prints on both polyethylene and polypropylene/PE film,
and on a range of bag sizes. In one plant, the
units are also required to print in multiple languages,
as product from that plant is distributed to countries
that include Korea, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia and
The system also provides a very flexible tool for
creating and changing label information. New labels
are laid out by the company's QA department using Bell-Mark's VersaStyle® thermal-transfer
design software. After design, the label information
is stored on an OmniDrive (tm) card that is used at
the facility where the product is packaged. Changes
are made by simply selecting the label from the card
and changing the information via a keyboard that comes
with the card reader. Programming the printer to print
the correct information is even easier: The operator
just selects the preprogrammed label file from the
"The biggest advantage we have," claims
a company spokesperson, "is how quickly and easily we can change
the label. And, going from Korean lettering to Arabic
lettering to a numeric label all in one day is really
The printers are mounted on brackets that cross the
vertical pouch packaging machines at the point where
the film is transferred from the infeed rollers to
the forming collar. Maintenance primarily involves
wiping down the printheads to keep them clean.
The biggest maintenance expense, the spokesperson says, results
from the boil-in-bag application. "Because we
have to run the boil-in-bag system very hot and very
clean, we run through about three printheads per year
on each machine," he says. While the expense is
more than they had anticipated, the cost is
still on par with the expense of the company's previous
Productivity is right on track, too, as the EasyPrint
allows the vf/f/s machines to operate at their top-rated
speed of 36 pouches/min.