David Williams Cheese are a family business based in Cheshire with a rich heritage stretching back to 1875. Capitalising on their knowledge and production experience, the company decided to expand their range and began producing specialist cheeses.

The decision was a good one as it lead to exponential growth in the sales of their specialist cheeses. But that also created a problem. With rapidly increasing production volumes, the company needed to overhaul their methods for barcoding and labelling.

Managing Director, David Williams recognised that investment in industrial automation coupled with print and apply labelling expertise would be required to continue the company’s growth.

“Before engaging Cobalt Systems, we were hand-applying labels, but as volume increased, there was a lack of consistency and issues would arise with incorrect labelling affecting the presentation of the products. It was clear we needed to address these issues to meet increasing customer demand.”

There were other problems alongside aesthetics and errors. Hand labelling took a long time which meant the cheeses were out of refrigerated storage for too long allowing condensate to form. This had the potential to damage the quality of the cheese and the packaging.

The brief was to specify a solution that could print and apply two labels per product, was able to fit into a confined space, increased throughput speed, offered ease of use and simple media replenishment for operators.

With an increasing client base, both locally and globally, an understanding of the future strategy of David Williams Cheese played a key part in Cobalt’s project delivery.

Of the labels being printed, one contained variable data (batch information, dates and ingredients) and needed to be printed in real-time. The second was a decorative pre-printed label for retail environments.

Our solution was designed around the existing production environment where space was at a premium. Our engineers specified and installed a NEXUS 20 Combi, a machine which combines real-time print and apply with an secondary applicator only function.

Two stipulations for this project were that it would be both simple to control and simple to replenish media. The solution met both requirements thanks to an integrated control screen providing consistent user interface and allowing both machines to be controlled separately.

The second requirement was met thanks to the standard feature set of Cobalt print and apply machines. We provide clearly numbered and easy to follow directional threading patterns for a highly visual and simplistic operation. The lower applicator element of the machine can also be pulled away from the line to allow for simple media replenishment.

Moving from stepped production flow to a continuous process greatly increased throughput providing 25% more output on the production line. The system also significantly reduced reliance on human resource, saving money and greatly improving efficiency ultimately delivering an estimated 18-month ROI.

David Williams was delighted with the outcomes of the project commenting:

“The NEXUS Combi makes sure that every label applied is straight, without creases and that the right information is printed every time. The technology is excellent and has greatly reduced our operational footprint providing space for future expansion.”