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Ink-jet printers improve operations

Finding an equitable balance between quantity and quality is vital in the premium wine industry. New, innovative technology is frequently the key to striking this balance. Cellier des Dauphins recently invested in a new ink-jet printing system that enhanced its inventory tracking capabilities and provided superior alphanumeric and graphic print quality. The new printing system allowed Cellier des Dauphins to demonstrate that it is possible to significantly increase the quantity of wine produced without sacrificing a drop of first-class quality.

Cellier des Dauphins sells to a variety of customers, so required an ink-jet printing system powerful enough to store a large amount of variable data.

Cellier des Dauphins is a cooperative of 11 different wine makers and nearly 4,000 vine growers in the prestigious Côtes du Rhône wine-producing region in southern France. Currently, the cooperative sells more than 60 million bottles of its premium wine per year to distributors, importers and direct buyers worldwide.

In 2000, Cellier des Dauphins launched an aggressive expansion plan with the goal of doubling production during the course of 10 years. The plan entailed the construction of a new 194,000-sq-ft storage, winemaking and production facility featuring a modern bottling line. Cellier des Dauphins needed a new ink-jet printing system to facilitate the tracking of this growing inventory throughout the aging and shipping process.

Quality was also a key concern for the company. As the producer of the leading French brand of AOC wines, Cellier des Dauphins needed an ink-jet printer that would produce crisp, sharp alphanumerics, bar codes and graphics that reflected the high quality of its brand. After comparing several available systems, Cellier des Dauphins purchased an ink-jet printer from Tiflex, a manufacturer of industrial high-resolution ink-jet systems with headquarters in Poncin, France. The printer the cooperative selected was a Tiflex HRP 1000, featuring Trident® 768Jet™ printheads.

Details that make a difference
Cellier des Dauphins knows that just as a wine's flavor is largely dictated by the quality of the grapes used, the quality of an ink-jet printing system depends largely on the characteristics of the printheads at the heart of the system. As it compared various ink-jet printing systems, Cellier des Dauphins paid careful attention to the attributes of the printhead in each. Print quality and durability were two key printhead characteristics. "We put great effort into producing distinguished, premium wines," explains Andre Ricard, technical director at Cellier des Dauphins. "It is essential that our packaging reflect our commitment to quality. The Trident 768Jet printhead provides clean, crisp text and graphics that reflect well on the quality of our brand."

The Trident 768Jet printhead is capable of printing graphics up to 10 cm (4 in.) tall, the tallest in the ink-jet direct-to-carton market. "The additional print height has enabled us to increase the size and type of boxes we use," says Ricard. " It has also made it possible for us to include more information on each printed container. The 768Jet printhead is capable of printing alphanumeric text, bar codes and logos, all with high quality."

In order to meet aggressive production goals, Cellier des Dauphins also needed printheads that would run consistently without clogging and slowing down production. The Trident 768Jet printheads feature an Automatic Maintenance Module™ that routinely cleans the printhead at programmable intervals. This self-priming capability was important for the company. "The automatic maintenance module has really enhanced our production process," notes Ricard. "Thanks to the automatic cleansing ability of the 768Jet printhead, our operators no longer need to stop the packaging process to prime and wipe the printheads."

Intelligent design
Superior data storage and inventory tracking capabilities were additional characteristics that Cellier des Dauphins was looking for in an ink-jet printer. The Tiflex HRP 1000 had several features that allowed the cooperative to simplify its packaging process.

New ink-jet printing system facilitates tracking of a large inventory throughout the aging and shipping process.

Because it sells to a variety of different types of customers (distributors and importers) worldwide, Cellier des Dauphins needed an ink-jet printing system powerful enough to store a large amount of variable data. "Countries have different laws and regulations about the type of information that must be printed on each container," explains Ricard. "Each of our customers has different needs in terms of the information it needs printed. The Tiflex HRP 1000 is able to store all of this information so that with a simple click of a button we can accommodate different customer's printing needs."

The inventory tracking capabilities of the HRP 1000 have helped Cellier des Dauphin implement strict quality control standards. "The Tiflex printing system allows us to trace the contents of a single bottle of wine in our aging cellar all the way back through the production and packaging process to the original grower," says Ricard. "This allows us to maintain premium quality standards and continuously improve our wine."

The printhead of the new ink-jet printing system is capable of printing graphics up to 10 cm (4 in.) tall.

Enhanced inventory tracking has also improved the company's production processes. "With our new system, we are able to manage and trace a large quantity of specific product information. This helps us avoid inventory errors, track demand for specific products and better respond to market needs," says Ricard.

Superior service
In its search for a new ink-jet printing system, Cellier des Dauphins was looking for more than superior print quality, durability and enhanced inventory production capabilities. "Tiflex stood out by providing superior customer service," notes Ricard. "The Tiflex HRP 1000 has a very user-friendly interface, but whenever we had a question, the service team at Tiflex was knowledgeable and attentive. They respond very quickly to our needs."

The Tiflex HRP 1000 has allowed Cellier des Dauphins to increase its inventory tracking capabilities tenfold. Before it purchased the new ink-jet system, Cellier des Dauphins was handling and tracking 800,000 bottles of wine in storage. With the new system, it is able to track 8 million bottles.

"The bottom line," says Ricard, "is that the Trident-powered ink-jet printing system helped us meet our goal of increasing production without sacrificing premium quality."

More information is available:

Printer: Tiflex-ITW, 203/740-9333. www.tiflex.com. Circle No. 211.

printheads: Trident: (33) 474373397. www.trident-itw.com. Circle No. 212.

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