DOWNTIME WORRIES MELT AWAY WITH COOL ICE CODERS
Zodiac thermal transfer overprinters help to improve production efficiency and support European growth plans for a range of ice products at The Ice Co.
ABOUT THE ICE CO.
In 1860 Joseph Marr started the company to keep their catch cold while at sea for his fishing fleet. The business has now grown to be Europe’s largest manufacturer of ice, thanks to the hard work of five generations of the Marr family.
The business is still family owned to this day and is proud to make quality ice products including crushed, cubed, flaked, blocks, premium, party ice, ice sculptures and more recently, ice packaged with slices of lime or lemon, delivered to the retail, wholesale and food manufacturing markets.
The company is part of the J.Marr Group which has been experiencing financial and geographical expansion.
The group encompasses The Ice Co, The Ice Co Storage & Logistics, Blue Keld Springs Bottled Water and also a property business to support the rapidly expanding group.
Having won The Grocer Gold Awards for 2014 for exporter of the year, The Ice Co has grown its exports from 7% to 36% in the space of three years, an exceptional growth in such a short time.
The Ice Co first identified a need to update their ageing coding machinery to integrate with their bagging equipment in 2012 when the cost of maintaining their existing machines escalated and the reliability decreased.
Philip Marr, Director at The Ice Co explains: “Our previous early generation thermal transfer printers were outdated and difficult to operate, so we decided it was time to look at updating our technology.”
Key criteria when researching a replacement printer was ease of use and reliability. It was also important to choose a coding provider that could be responsive and provide excellent after care support to ensure any queries could be handled effectively.
The Ice Co had a recommendation from an existing ICE customer and a demonstration followed.
Philip Marr explains “it is vital that we ensure that the equipment we use meets the high quality standards that we set ourselves and which our customers demand.
After meeting the team at ICE and seeing the Zodiac in action, we were impressed with the complete service they could provide.”
The ICE Zodiacs are used to print a Julian date for the traceability of the production date on bags of ice ready for distribution. The printers are integrated onto Vertical Form Fill & Seal (VFFS) bag makers.
Like all ICE coders, the Zodiac has the CLARiTY operating interface as standard which makes the Zodiac user friendly and intuitive. One of the clever features of the CLARiTY interface is the ribbon usage indicator to tell the operator how much ribbon is remaining and when it is predicted to run out.
This functionality has been invaluable for The Ice Co,
“the Zodiac is very efficient and the ribbon usage indicator is a great feature for us and allows us to plan ribbon changeover. It also leaves little ribbon waste, making it efficient and cost effective”.
Ultimately a repeat purchase is the best indication of the suitability of any equipment for a job. The first Zodiac demonstrated its worth and has resulted in another six being installed across their four production sites.
“The printers are reliable and print high quality codes,” says Philip. “Combined with low maintenance, they have helped to improve our overall production efficiency.”
Equally important, the operators were very quickly won over by the user friendly touchscreen and the pre-defined fields that could be set up to make selecting the right job easy and error free.
With the launch of ‘Super Cubes’, a fantastic new super-sized ice cube which melts slower, it’s clear that The Ice Co are continually innovating and are on target for further growth.
Philip concludes, “The printers are easy to operate, efficient and the after care from ICE has been great, leaving me in no doubt that our relationship with ICE will continue to complement and support our growing business.”