New concept for weighing, labelling and sorting
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New concept for weighing, labelling and sorting

  • 16 November 2020
  • By: Xandra Veltman

Fish processing company Profish can easily meet the growing demand for different labels within one order with less manpower. Thanks to two new weighing and labelling lines from Espera, plus a unique adaptation of the ERP Reflex 3000 solution from ReflexSystems. 

Profish Food B.V. in Twello processes salmon and whitefish and delivers these freshly pre-packaged to retailers. "We see the demand for different labelling per order increasing", says Jan Hartgers, Technical Manager Profish. "Each label needs a lot of information. Our customers also want to present their growing diversity of products well. Consumers want recognisable labelling and they want to immediately see the difference between, for example, organic or bbq products, natural, spicy or action packs."

New concept

Because Profish is constantly growing, there are now four Espera lines with a maximum of two top labels each. Hartgers: " This allowed us to pick all orders at retail level. This year we decided to make drastic investments, further optimise the process, shorten the processing time and become even more flexible. This took us to Espera Netherlands, of which we have been a satisfied customer for a long time. We asked them for a new concept for weighing, labelling and sorting. We wanted fewer lines with a higher capacity, plus high-level automation. Everything had to fit within the existing premises. Moreover, we wanted to continue working during the renovation."

Two complete lines

These questions were the starting point for discussions between Jan Hartgers and Mischa Schmitz, Sales Manager & European Key Account Coordinator of Espera. Mischa: "The result was that we delivered two complete lines of communication. Each line consists of an automatic crate de-stacker and an automatic weighing and labelling system with four upper printer-applicators and one lower printer-applicator. The system also has three unique multi-roll printers per line, each with five cassettes with label roll and one printer-applicator. The cassettes can be taken out and refilled without stopping the line. Together they can apply fifteen different top labels plus a bottom label. We have also supplied an automatic sorting station with ten sorting positions."


Because the connection had to be exactly right, Reflex Systems was also involved in the project. Director Soufian Ouald L' Hadj: "Last year we made an automation leap at Profish. Now it came down to connectivity and they asked us to update the ERP package Reflex 3000 to a more extensive seamless link on the Espera-EST driver. This provides the Espera line with the right route and product information. As a partner, we have to respond to this trend and the growing demand for digitisation. This requires a pragmatic and innovative approach. That has worked out well here."

Mischa Schmitz and Jan Hartgers

The result is impressive, according to Profish. The company can now pick orders from ten shops at once, run them over the Espera and then sort them out again per branch. Faster and with fewer FTEs. Even from a health and safety point of view, this is a big step forward now that employees no longer have to lift crates themselves. 


It was an intensive process, evaluates Hartgers. "Espera thinks in a solution-oriented way. We were able to work 'around the building'. The most important factor was that we could constantly supply our customers. Espera and ReflexSystems ensured that all the data was in order. Thanks to the multi-roll printers, we can quickly print small batches with many different labels. We have made a great deal of progress with this. Staff has to learn to work well with the new equipment, Espera is further optimising the line. In that respect, we continue to improve."

Profish's order to Espera was placed on 13 March 2020 and the first packaging of the new lines rolled out before 1 July. Well on time, despite the fact that it was in the middle of the corona crisis, which, according to Hartgers, sometimes slowed down the project. "Then a good business relationship helps. Mischa Schmitz agrees. "In the end, this complex project was completed quickly thanks to the good cooperation between Profish, Espera and Reflex.

How it works

Profish is able to process orders from ten retail branches per line at the same time. Orders are placed centrally in the ERP system, after which labelled top seal packaging is prepared in order sequence in crates on a dolly. The crates are unstacked automatically, and an operator enters the packaging manually. The Flex 3000 from ReflexSystems indicates the order sequence. A unique buffer system digitally prepares the orders in the Espera terminal. The individual packaging is weighed and one or more top labels are printed and applied from the four top printers. These contain the current information from the Reflex 3000 system. The same applies to the lower label. A bounce signal is then sent to one of the ten sorting stations, where an operator picks up the labelled packaging in a crate. A supermarket that places its order in the morning receives the correct quantity of pre-packed fish in the desired (many) varieties that same day.

Photos: © Fotopersbureau Hissink

Source: Vakblad Voedingsindustrie 2020