Integrated solution thaws labeling chill

January 29, 2014

4 Min Read
Integrated solution thaws labeling chill

When it comes to ice-cream novelties, Toledo, OH-based Frostbite has a pretty sweet deal. The company, a wholly owned subsidiary of Dallas-based Dean Foods, is responsible for manufacturing and copacking virtually everything you see in the ice-cream case of your favorite supermarket or convenience store, including ice-cream bars, fruit pops, ice-cream sandwiches, push-ups, flat-top cones and ice-cream slices.

Frostbite is proud of its reputation for providing high-quality products. Since its inception, the company has constantly improved upon its existing manufacturing processes. A recent innovation involved the upgrade of its carton-labeling system. The company's existing ink-jet labeling system involved preprinting paperboard sleeves that were then placed over bundles of product to identify the product name, code name and plant code.

“The old, preprinting process required workers to estimate how many sleeves were needed per line, per day,” says Frostbite plant manager Randy BeVier. “Sometimes we were over-printing, resulting in wasted labor and materials, and sometimes we were under-printing, which left us scrambling at the last minute to make up for the shortage.”

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In addition, the quality of the ink-jet printing, produced in a dot-matrix pattern on the sleeves, often did not meet the company's legibility or quality standards.

Therefore, Frostbite needed to find a system that would allow high-quality labels to be printed on an “as-needed” basis. It also required a system that could quickly and easily print bar-code labels for multiple lines, as one operator might be producing packaging for several lines at a single station.

To meet its requirements, Frostbite turned to Paragon Data Systems, Inc. (www.paragondatasystems.com), which sells, implements and integrates automatic data collection (ADC), or bar-code, solutions. “Paragon was able to offer us something other suppliers couldn't: a complete labeling solution,” says BeVier.

After reviewing Frostbite's labeling criteria, Paragon provided the company with its new pushbutton labeling solution. This custom-built hardware/software solution is designed for a variety of labeling applications and allows multiple lines to be fed to one operator, who can subsequently label a variety of products. It also eliminates the need for preprinted rolls of labels and multiple printers in the same workspace. Paragon was able to quickly install the system and had Frostbite up and running in days.

Paragon's labeling solution requires only printers and an Ethernet I/O interface. Frostbite is currently using 10 Zebra (www.zebra.com) 105SL™ thermal-transfer printers in conjunction with Paragon's Loftware Label Manager software. Loftware design and server software manages which products are running on what lines at any time, giving the operator tight control of the data being printed.

Paragon also programmed and implemented a front end for interfacing to the lines so the operator can determine which labels are printed for each line with a push of a button. Each line has an associated pushbutton that is networked back to the application computer. Once the button is pushed, it sends a signal to the system indicating what label to print and which line the label is being printed for. This capability is especially beneficial to Frostbite because it has more lines in operation than it has printers. “The Paragon system is extremely flexible,” saysBeVier. “It allows us to save money by using fewer printers than other companies would have set us up with.”

The new labeling solution has melded seamlessly with Frostbite's manufacturing operation. The company produces 12- and 24-pack cartons, which are packaged into bundles of a predetermined number. Next, a corrugated sleeve is placed over the cartons, bundling them together for more effective palletizing. The labeling system is used at this bundling station to create labels “on-demand,” with all the requisite information. From here, the bundles are transported to a storage area where they are palletized and warehoused prior to shipping.

Besides being attracted to the system's performance, Frostbite was also impressed by Paragon's ability to produce a turnkey system. “Paragon provided us with everything, from the system design, to the engineering, to the printers, ribbons and labels,” says Frostbite control manager Gary Bogard. “They are one of the few companies capable of providing this 'one-stop' option.”


More information is available:

Paragon Data Systems, Inc., 800/211-0768. www.paragondatasystems.com.

Zebra Technologies Corp., 847/634-6700. www.zebra.com.

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