Nottingham Post Business Awards
Ever wondered about the digital inkjet codes on packets of food such as crisps and sandwiches and what they mean?
There is a fair chance that the ingenuity behind the technology comes from Nottingham.
Interactive Coding Equipment, based at Sherwood Business Park in Annesley, is the country’s leader in high quality digital printing systems for the packaging industry, operating in sectors such as food and beverage, pharmaceutical, printing and DIY.
The equipment is highly sophisticated and the coding relays a range of information. The company has entered the small business of the year category of the Nottingham Post Business Awards.
“At the point at which the crisps are placed in the bag, there is a requirement to place information on the packaging that tells the consumer when the product was mad, the date by which it should be consumed and other information such as the factory and production line.
“This has to be applied at the point at which the product and packaging are combined. The process of printing on the packaging is done digitally demanding a different technology.”
There are usually two elements of the information. The first is the need for traceability if the product is returned because of a problem. The second tells the consumer a date by which a product should be consumed safely.
ICE works closely with the manufacturers of production lines adding its own expertise drawing on the latest sophisticated thermal transfer and inkjet digital printing heads supplied by state-of-the art manufacturers such as Videojet Technologies on the Nottingham Science Park.
Products made by ICE essentially draw on increasingly sophisticated digital printers developed by Videojet.
Chris says: “That business has a strong development schedule and we build them into our systems. We add value through systems by integrating them.
“The component arrives in a box and we build a complete system which meets the customers’ requirements for a digital packaging printing system. The integration process often includes the addition of mechanical and electrical hardware as well as software.”
The ICE journey began in 2001, when its three directors Chris Simpson, Chris Gent and Dave Bradbury had a vision to combine over 40 years of engineering expertise and create a company that could deliver unrivalled coding, print and labelling solutions for the packaging industry. The directors are each part owners.
Today, the business employs about 70 staff turning over £14 million. Last year, it made pre-tax profits of £2.4 million.
“We have a very healthy market share in the UK, possibly around 40 per cent with certain technologies,” adds Chris. “We are hoping to continue to grow at a rate of 15 to 20 per cent for the next three to five years. Best in class products and excellent customer service will be critical to this growth plan.”