Demand for decorative coatings continues to soar, and the Akzo Nobel factories produce tens of thousands of tins of paint and other coatings each day. Each tin needs to be accurately labelled, warehoused and, when ready for dispatch, picked off the shelf. These tins are rolling off four production lines continuously, 14 hours every day, seven days a week.
Responsible for the specification and procurement of data collection solutions for production and logistics at all six of the UK and Ireland sites, Akzo Nobel warehouse manager Tony Callaghan had high demands for the new print and apply systems. "Keeping every element of the production line working through each and every working day is essential. 15,000 tins come off each production line every day, each needing to be accurately labelled, palleted and stored," said Callaghan.
Due to the aggressive industrial environment, the printers are required to print the labels and apply them to the tins needed to be rugged and reliable, yet easy to use.
In addition, Akzo Nobel needed to label cases of tins as they enter the warehouse and the completed pallets as they are dispatched to distributors and customers. Finally, each of these systems needed to link into Akzo Nobel's SAP resource planning system.
"There are three important things to look for when choosing a printer. Whether it is fit for purpose, the average life for the parts and the software it is compatible with," said Callaghan. "We have previously had software that would only run on certain printers. In an ever-changing supply chain that is definitely not practical."
"Finally, we wanted to automate the process, applying labels directly to tins as they come off the production lines. Previously the warehouse team were hand applying ready printed labels to each tin before palleting and storing," continued Callaghan.