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Moba egg graders are packed with technology. Some designs are worth further investigation as they represent crucial customer value. In this series of articles, we will be zooming in on these "hidden gems." This time, more on the Omnia's ability to control printers and labeling machines for various tasks.
There are two basic ways to program an egg grading machine;
- One is using the grade and the packing lane as the basis of programming. Certain characteristics, such as quality levels (sensitivity of detection equipment), are assigned to a weight category or "grade", while other characteristics, such as used consumer packs, are assigned to a packing lane. This is the traditional way of programming a grader and still works for situations where product changes are limited.
- The other method is to create a product as a "library item" that combines all the characteristics of the deliverable as sold to retail. This product can be assigned to a packing lane. This is much more suitable for situations where operators have limited knowledge of the products being sold to retail and also for avoiding mistakes in case of a large range of products.
The product-oriented way was introduced in the third Omnia generation and has become the standard way of working. The advantage is that once the product is defined, no more mistakes can be made because all critical settings are stored within that definition. You only have to think of all the product details once, while in the normal production process, the only simple part is assigning products to certain packing lanes.
Printing on eggs
In Omnia, eggs can be printed on the top (part of the egg where the air cell is located) or on the side, called "pole to pole." For this purpose, inkjets of the "Continuous Inkjet" type are almost always used, often abbreviated to "CIJ." The standard inkjet provision provides mounting of inkjet heads for both functionalities as well as an interface to communicate with CIJ systems.
Since the Omnia is in direct contact with the CIJ systems, all kind of variables can be printed fully automatically. They can relate to the product, such as a product code for traceability or retail-specific printing such as an egg type. At the same time, the origins of the eggs can also be printed, such as a laying date or best before date.
The good thing is that the setup of the text takes place in the Omnia and is stored within the product. The next time the same product is programmed on the machine, the correct printing is applied to the eggs automatically.
The choice of whether to print on the top or pole to pole is not merely a cosmetic choice. If eggs are only printed in the grader, printing at the top is preferred, because of better visibility in the consumer pack. However, if eggs are printed at the farm directly, the pole to pole option is better to add additional data such as a best before date. This is because many farmpackers on the market can only handle printing on the top of the eggs. If the top has already been used by the farm, for additional data in the packing station, pole to pole is the only option left… Moba's universal inkjet provision allows both ways of printing.
Printing on the top of the eggs; less space but attractive when the pack is opened.
Printing "pole to pole".
Printing on consumer packs
The Omnia can not only control the printing on the eggs, but also on the packs. The parameters for this purpose are linked to the product-oriented way of programming so that with one mouse click all necessary printing, on not only the eggs but also the packs are good to go. This minimizes the risk of mistakes. The system even allows for printing the total egg weight of all eggs within a consumer pack, since the Omnia knows exactly which eggs were packed together in one consumer pack.
From a technical perspective, there is no difference in communicating with a pack printing system or with a pack labeling system. The big difference is that many labeling systems have a loop with a few labels under way between the point of printing and the point of applying the label on the pack.
When printing a code on a label directly related to a pack, it is important to put whatever you print directly on that same pack. For this purpose, some suppliers have developed the direct-apply label units.
Free usable information fields
In communication with, for instance ERP systems via Omnialink, variable fields are available where all kinds of information can be kept for both supplies of incoming eggs as well for product-related information. All these fields can be made accessible for printing as well. This creates the opportunity to integrate printing into the complete chain. For example, this means that sales order references can be printed on a consumer pack or alternatively a trace code that originates all the way from an ERP production order. The possibilities are endless.
Fit for the future
With increasing food safety and traceability demands, printing on eggs and consumer packs will only grow in the future. For Omnia egg graders in Western Europe printing has been the standard for many years. Even if eggs need to be printed on the farm, offline packing stations add best before data and trace codes to the printing done on the farm.
We are also increasingly seeing printing systems used in other parts of the world. Your Omnia is fit for the future!! Check with your local representative for all the possible options.