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Introduction

Recent years have seen a dramatic increase in the need for companies to code their products with variable information, be it through legislative measures or for quality control purposes. Ink jet printing has as a result become increasingly more popular for coding variable information onto these items.

Domino UK Ltd is the world leading manufacturer of ink jet printing systems and inks used across a wide variety of industries. Since the Company was formed in 1978, it has grown to a multinational operation with subsidiaries and distributors providing coding systems in every industrial area in the world. Such has been the Company's success that regional support offices have been established in Singapore and Dubai to provide back up to the ever growing distributor network.

Company achievements

Following on from the Company's exceptional growth in recent years, Domino has been recognised for its achievements and has received three Queen's Awards, the most recent of which was won in 1992 for export achievement. Domino was the first company in the industry to gain BS5750 part 1 and has been selected as a reference site under the DTI enterprise initiative scheme.

Research and development is an important part of the Company's operation. Over 5% of turnover is ploughed back into R & D, to work on products which will meet new industry requirements as legislation and new working practices come into force. This commitment to keeping pace with industry requirements has resulted in Domino being the first ink jet company to launch an IP65 rated printer for extremely wet or very dusty environments, a hot ethanol printer which provides low odour, fast drying properties and some new data entry systems including a data wand which enters codes simply by swiping series of bar codes.

Inks

Domino have an extensive range of inks designed to meet the requirements of a wide range of applications. All of Domino's inks pass through a rigorous qualification process, thus ensuring the highest quality of performance once a Domino printing system is installed on site. Inks available include those with different solvents, ensuring that there are inks on offer which are suitable for all environments. These include auto thermal inks which are ethanol based thus providing an odour free printing facility, particularly suitable for the food industry. Different coloured inks can be required so that the ink colour may be coordinated with packaging. This option is particularly appropriate for the cosmetics industry where presentation of product is an important issue.

Special inks have also been developed to satisfy industry requirements. These comprise UV readable inks, invisible to the naked eye but readable under UV lamps, which have found interest among companies requiring security coding. Also UV curing links which are used extensively in the electronics field.

In response to recent legislation regarding the coding of eggs Domino have launched their latest food grade ink, RD4503, which has been specifically designed to meet Commission Regulation 91/1274/EEC of 15 May 1991.

RD4503 also has self disinfecting properties, capable of killing any microbacterial or fungal environment contamination of the ink. The ink is boil resistant on most egg-shells for 3-10 minutes.

Product range

The product range is under constant review to ensure that customers' needs are being met. The most recent addition to the range of printers is the stylish Codebox 3, which gives dramatically increased reliability and performance unrivalled in the industrial ink jet printing industry. This important advancement in Domino's product range was launched at Interpack and marks a new era in printer reliability and performance.

The Codebox 3 is suitable for dry, light industrial environments and offers several exciting new features. The revolutionary new printhead design, combines proven technology with new developments, to give the most advanced drop generation system yet. The stability of print and reliability of operation allow new standards in low maintenance to be achieved.

An improvement to the auto start/stop function has also been incorporated, allowing start up and shut down at the touch of a single button. After the printer has been switched on, the automatic drop adjustment ensures perfect print quality, first time, every time.

The integral control panel offers simple data entry, and provides full status reporting and easy to understand user prompts. The menu driven data entry system is password protected to ensure security of codes.

This excellent new printer confirms Domino's position at the leading edge of ink jet technology, and provides the ultimate in reliable, easy to operate, coding systems.

The Auto Thermal is used by leading confectionery manufacturers Thorntons, for printing variable information onto a variety of their products including the "best before end" date, the line number, real time and lot number.

The printers contain BK3901, an alcohol based ink with a drying time of approximately three seconds. This ink has a very low odour and is therefore ideal for use within the confectionery industry. All of the constituents of the ink have been selected to meet the USDA regulations for incidental contact with food.

The machine comes complete with a new low-maintenance printhead, which only needs to be cleaned once a week, ensuring simpler operation. Start up and shut down procedures are achieved by the simple pressing of control buttons. The Solo Auto Thermal is housed in a rugged stainless steel cabinet tough enough for industrial conditions.

Solo 5 and Macrojet printers are being used to code products at Colmans of Norwich. Solo 5 printers have been installed on the Robinsons ready drinks production lines, where the best before date and batch code are printed onto the top of the carton. The batch code allows Colmans to keep quality controls on their products. The drinks are packed into trays being shrinkwrapped. Domino machines have also been installed to code jars and tubes of ready made mustard and tins of mustard powder.

Vogan & Co. Ltd, based in Fulbourn, Cambridgeshire, has installed a twin headed Macrojet to code onto sacks of pulses and rice. The large character ink jet printer is installed on a production line which packages 20 tonnes of product per hour.

Before installing Macrojet to code their product, Vogan used paper labels, stitched onto the sack as it was sealed, but these tended to get ripped off. It was also a labour intensive process, which necessitated individual printing of the labels beforehand and a special label applicator on the production line. The Macrojet has allowed this whole process to be eliminated and has provided a fast and reliable system which can be reprogrammed at the touch of a button as the product being packaged is changed.

Vogan have programmed their Macrojet to print the "best before end" date, a production code (consisting of the lot number, the Julian day code and a V to show that the product has come from Vogan), and a sequential bag number. The second printhead is programmed to print messages specific to the customers requirements. The printer is linked into a shaft encoder so that if the line stops for any reason, the Macrojet automatically stops coding.

Another company which favours Domino coding equipment is Daloon Foods UK Ltd, the Newark based producer of specialised frozen foods for the retail and catering sectors. They have purchased a Domino PackTrack for printing bar codes and "best before" end dates onto outers of their brand-leading crispy pancake rolls and samosas. The mimeographic in-plant system is used to print variable data such as the bar code, product description, quantity and weight of contents.

With the advent of new food labelling legislation, Daloon's customers were demanding more 'on case' information, including product description bar codes and "best before" end dates in bar code format. With seven varieties and 28 different pack sizes of pancake rolls and three varieties and 15 pack sizes of samosas, Daloon used to carry very large stocks of labels to provide the necessary information. There clearly had to be a more efficient method of providing this information. Although they had recognised the need for on case printing Daloon had been unable to find a system that suited their requirements.

Daloon Foods had for many years been using a Codebox 2 for printing "best before" end dates onto primary packaging. A good working relationship existed between the two companies and so Daloon were pleased when the PackTrack printer became available.

Since installation, Daloon no longer require the huge stocks of labels previously stored in their warehouse. Savings have also been made with the removal of label applicating machines from the production lines. In addition to this, there have been other benefits such as a reduction in administration costs and shorter lead times on special offer promotions.

Daloon Foods have been very satisfied with the PackTrack system. The cartons can be printed 'on demand' or prepared ahead of time as desired. The Domino software has the capability of drawing high quality artwork and, most importantly for new legislation, can produce a 100 per cent bar code. Mr Coleridge Marchment, Daloon's works director, responsible for production at the EEC-approved plant at Newark, said "We have been delighted with the machine and the presentation is tremendous. Administration costs have been reduced, warehouse space saved and reaction times are quicker. There has also been the added bonus of costs savings per outer carton."

The PackTrack printer is a completely self contained in-plant system for printing onto cases, trays and outer packaging including bar codes, trade marks, symbols, logos and text in any language. The system comprises of a stencil origination unit and a printing station which can function in either an in-line or off-line mode.

Conclusion

Domino's success in the electronic overprinting industry is set to continue. This dynamic company continually monitors its customers requirements and supplies quality printers and inks to enable manufacturers to code their products in an efficient and trouble free manner.

The Company continues to grow and as a response to this a new research and development building has been acquired next to the present Company headquarters in Bar Hill, Cambridge. This new facility will provide a state-of-the-art development environment in which Domino's reputation for quality products will continue.
COPYRIGHT 1993 Food Trade Press Ltd.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Domino Computers Proprietary Ltd.
Publication:Food Trade Review
Date:Aug 1, 1993
Words:1681
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