Hotel Chocolat and Markem-Imaje work together for tastier results

Working with Markem-Imaje, Hotel Chocolat has installed eight new coding machines as part of a project to improve print quality and efficiency

Hotel Chocolat, which owns more than 70 stores in the UK and is engaged in an expansion program in the US and Middle East, is a leading premium chocolatier and the only UK company to grow cocoa on its own plantation.

Working with Markem-Imaje, Hotel Chocolat has recently installed eight new coding machines at its factory in Huntingdon as part of a project to further improve print quality on the production line and overall operational efficiency, as well as improving environmental performance and reducing waste.

Working with Markem-Imaje

In the last four years, Markem-Imaje has worked closely with Hotel Chocolat to implement a new coding and marking system, installing six SmartDate 5/128 thermal transfer coders on three production lines, coding paper and polypropylene films.

In addition, two large character inkjet printers from the 5800 series were installed to print on the individual outer corrugated carton. A Nova 4 desktop printer was installed to print to paper labels and CoLOS software provided the single application on which images could be designed and downloaded.

Established as the market leading thermal transfer printers, Markem-Imaje SmartDate coders have provided Hotel Chocolat with an easy to use, intuitive coding system that delivers the highest quality printing at the fastest line speeds. The environmentally friendly 5800 series inkjet printers represent the next generation of Touch Dry® Hot Melt technology using solvent free inks, delivering high-quality GS1 compliant codes and images that do not bleed or fade.

Driving efficiency

Installing the SmartDate 5/128 series, capable of coding on a print area up to 128mm by 150mm, helped Hotel Chocolat to increase line speeds by 77% with no loss in print quality. An additional advantage has been the ability to scan jobs using a bar code – meaning that coding equipment does not have to be purged of previous job detail and eliminates operator error, increasing overall efficiency.

The 5800 inkjet printers, which use a wax based ink, print at a higher resolution and have proved to be cleaner in the production environment than the old solvent based equipment. Images are clearer which in turn means that fewer packs are rejected due to poor print quality. The Markem-Imaje 5800 series also requires less day-to-day maintenance, cutting unnecessary downtime.

This combination of increased line speeds, reduced downtime due to maintenance, and more reliable equipment that uses consumables such as ribbon and ink more efficiently, has helped Hotel Chocolat to improve line efficiency by 10%.

One stop shop

One of the principle challenges that resulted from the change in packaging format was how to communicate the new information design to the printers. Finding a supplier who could provide the coding equipment with the necessary capabilities but who could also provide compatible software to design and manage the coding data was critical. The CoLOS software installed by Markem-Imaje has proved extremely effective in helping Hotel Chocolat to streamline its production process as well as providing reassurance that codes are consistent and compliant with all relevant regulation.

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