Toshiba TEC delivers the goods for Halo

January 24, 2019

Located at the DP World London Gateway in Essex, Halo is an innovative supply chain concept that is focused on delivering fresh, high quality food items, whilst at the same time reducing logistics expense and carbon emissions. As part of this exciting new initiative and to ensure that the entire process is as efficient as possible, the company uses printing technology from Toshiba TEC.

Within the food service supply chain, the freshness of goods is paramount in order to maximise edible life and this particularly the case with the handling of fruit and vegetables. Quite simply, the less time between picking and eating the better, which is why SH Pratt Group, one of the world’s leading fruit importers and distributors, decided to configure a bespoke temperature controlled distribution facility at the UK’s fastest growing port and create Halo.

Port of call

Within the 108,555ft2, state-of-the-art, multi-chambered warehouse at DP World London Gateway, Halo handles products before distributing them to the UK consumer market.

Wayne Milne, operations director at Halo, explains, ‘The facility employs an advanced IT system that utilises enterprise resource planning software (ERP), so that customers can track the progress of their goods. By having this facility at DP World London Gateway we can reduce the distance, journey time, waste and cost for customers of moving products – ensuring a more sustainable supply chain. We are then able to pass on tangible savings to customers and also reduce demurrage by offering a rapid turnaround.’

Process and procedure

Once a ship arrives at DP World London Gateway, containers are unloaded and processed through a semi-automated terminal. Once the containers arrive at Halo, operatives process, package and in some cases store the goods before the next onward journey. This needs to be done as efficiently as possible and a key part of the process is the generation of labels and other documentation.

Recognising the importance of investing in the right printing equipment to enable these workflows to be completed as smoothly as possible, Wayne Milne contacted Tonbridge based Progressive ID for some advice. Progressive ID’s technical manager, Dan Briggs, comments, ‘Since forming in 1999, Progressive ID (now part of the Reflex Labels Group) has become one of the UK’s foremost providers of labelling, packaging and auto ID solutions. We are a longstanding approved Toshiba TEC reseller and have specified its equipment across hundreds of businesses throughout the country. Therefore, when Wayne contacted us, I was under no doubt that we could meet his requirements.’

Serious business

Correctly documenting product information on labels and packaging is critical. Traceability is now enforced not only at the customer level, but also through legal directives that must be adhered to. Put simply, costs are regularly incurred by the simple absence, inaccuracy, or illegibility of product data.

In 2014, The GS1 Label Quality Report, based on a field study conducted in 14 countries, discovered that almost 30 per cent of all pallets reviewed had some form of labelling problem such as poor print quality, wrong serial shipping container codes, the application of multiple labels, and incorrect product information. Dan Briggs adds, ‘There may also be costs for sending back and re-palletising and, in the case of food, the entire shipment might have to be thrown away. Also, with the adoption of globally regulated standards like GS1 and ISO, customers can impose fines in the region of tens of thousands of pounds in the event of an emergency product withdrawal.’

Clear thinking

Progressive ID configured a solution around Toshiba’s TEC’s B-EX6 industrial printers, which combine state-of-the-art technology with usability, reliability and the lowest possible total cost of ownership.

Designed for use in the most demanding applications, the heavy duty B-EX6 has a rugged and durable design that ensures maximum uptime and protection against the knocks that are commonplace in these types of environments. With a level of operator usability that sets new standards for industrial printing, a specially designed bi-cover reduces its overall footprint, allowing it to be sited in the most convenient location.

Becky Viccars, marketing manager at Toshiba TEC, states, ‘Toshiba TEC designs in features that offer the lowest total cost of ownership and the B-EX6 is no exception. These include an extended long-life print head, a unique ribbon save mode and an 800m ribbon, which all contribute to improve efficiencies and ultimately reduce costs over the lifetime of the printer. To enable flexible connectivity, USB and Ethernet come as standard, and Bluetooth functionality allows for parameter settings to be controlled from a smartphone or tablet.’

Soft touch

The advanced functionality enabled with the B-EX6 is unrivalled elsewhere in the market. This is exemplified in the way that Progressive ID has integrated its own DataGuard 3 software within the devices.

‘In recent years formatting dates on labels has become increasingly complex, with some supermarket chains using an irregular format where the month changes between three and four characters,’ says Dan Briggs. ‘Many retailers also like to print not only ‘display until’ and ‘best before’ dates, but also ‘pack’ dates and ‘harvest’ dates. With such complexity it is little wonder that printing the correct date and the correct date format often leads to mistakes. However, with built-in date formatting language, DataGuard 3 can produce any possible date format, no matter how complex, while packing personnel simply select what needs to be printed and all dates are calculated in a single click. This means that new staff can be trained in minutes.’

Onwards and upwards

Halo’s Wayne Milne continues to be impressed with the role that Toshiba TEC’s technology plays in the overall operation and concludes, ‘Our B-EX6 devices are helping us to work faster and smarter. They have also proven to be highly reliable, robust and durable in what is a pretty physical environment. To cap it all, when it's needed we know that we have excellent support and back-up from Toshiba TEC and Progressive ID.’