Labelling systems enable expansion
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Labelling systems enable expansion

  • 07 March 2022
  • By: Janneke Vermeulen

Every day, tens of thousands of exotic fruits leave Trofi Pack, most of them chilled, ripened, packaged and labelled. The enormous growth and the changing wishes of customers require flexibility and a super-fast turnover. 

Marcel Broekhart doesn't know exactly how many avocados are packed every day. "But every minute we can process about 80 per line. If four lines are running simultaneously, that's already thousands per hour." Trofi Pack has been cooling, ripening, packing and labelling tropical fruit for five years. "Over two years ago, we moved from De Lier to Den Hoorn, a village further down the road. The production space in De Lier had become too small and the office, the refrigeration and ripening cells and the packaging lines had to be housed under one roof," says Broekhart, who is responsible for production at the company.

The gigantic new production hall is clearly built for even more growth. On one side, dozens of cooling and ripening cells are connected - currently 23 cooling cells and 25 ripening cells are in use. Apart from avocados, these also hold mangos, grapes, passion fruit, limes, sweet potato, turmeric and ginger. The largest volume is for mangos and avocados; together they take up about 80 per cent. 

23 languages 

On the other side of the hall, the packaging machines with various labelling systems are running. At the end of the line, avocados packed in pairs roll out of the machine in flow packs, with a neatly printed label on top. Broekhart takes one out and says: "Look, these are all going to a German retailer, our biggest customer. A demanding customer - for example, some products require the information to be printed on the label in no less than 23 languages." 

The requirements of retailers with regard to packaging and labelling are constantly changing'.

Such special requirements, the wide range of products processed as well as exceptional situations demand great flexibility. Broekhart: "We are still experiencing the consequences of the blockade of the Suez Canal by the ship last year. The supply fluctuates enormously as a result, but the delivery to our customer must be stable. That sometimes requires a lot of puzzling. And it also requires machinery that can handle that flexibility. Automator, the company that has been providing Trofi Pack with the labelling systems from the very beginning, is proving to be a very reliable party, says Broekhart: "The requirements of retailers with regard to packaging and labelling are constantly changing. Instead of flow packs, a topseal is required, or the retailer wants less plastic but larger labels, or labelling at the bottom and the top is requested. We have to be able to switch quickly. Automator delivers that flexibility. Their systems are reliable, their service is really fast and their communication is clear - and we really value that here too."  

Automatic monitoring

In addition to the changing requirements, Broekhart also sees another major development in the industry: "The turnover rate of production is much higher than before. A few years ago, about 60 packages rolled out of the machine; now there are sometimes 140 to 150." Sales engineer at Automator Remco Krosenbrink adds: "Our systems can absolutely handle that speed. The label is printed and applied directly to the packaging. Next, a test is carried out to determine whether the barcode on the label is legible. This inspection is automated. In addition, in the production lines where a label is placed on both the top and the bottom of the packaging, an automated test has been built in to ensure that the bottom label matches the top label. That also saves an enormous amount of time."


The assessment of the ripeness of the products is still largely human work. Broekhart explains: "Our ripening master peels an avocado from a certain batch. That peel goes into a small machine that indicates the drying agent. Based on this, the ripener determines the time and temperature at which the batch must remain in the ripening cell. This is usually a few days. The ripeness of mangoes is measured with a pen that indicates the pressure. Sometimes they only need to be cooled. All the other products are only cooled, packed and labelled here."  

Hammer and letter stamps

In addition to the labelling systems used at Trofi Pack, Automator also supplies coding, marking and inspection solutions. The company was founded in 1958, at a time when coding was still being done with hammers and letter stamps. Automator now has major packaging companies from across the Benelux among its customers. Krosenbrink: "The expansion of Trofi Pack is therefore no problem for us. We have our own workshop and engineering department, where new systems for Trofi Pack are already in the making.

Photos: © Fotobureau Roel Dijkstra

Source: Vakblad Voedingsindustrie 2022