Blue Earth achieves label & date code verification with automation


Blue Earth Foods is a major supplier of chilled seafood products to retail supermarkets throughout the United Kingdom and Europe. The company has achieved rapid success in the last 3 years with turnover more than doubling year on year.

Blue Earth's challenges

Like the whole of the food industry, Blue Earth foods were facing increasing pressure from retailers to guarantee that all packaging and date coding was correct.

Correct packaging and data coding prevent product recalls and withdrawals that not only jeopardise their customer relationships but also have high fines associated with them. A robust and expandable system was needed to eliminate these risks whilst minimising any disruption to food production.

The key elements of the data code and labelling challenge at Blue Earth Foods were as follows:

  • Similar packaging because many of the products fell within the same ranges

  • High variance in date codes because of short life on products between production runs

  • Printed top webs with no barcode identification on them could be incorrectly used on another product

  • Packaging format, thermoformed trays, printed top web & base label

From a technical point of view, OAL understood not only our needs but our customers’ needs as well. This was an invaluable asset that facilitates joint decision making. The system is easy to use and gives you peace of mind and reassurance that the correct dates and packaging are on the product.
— Eleanor Agnew, Technical Manager

How automation solved their challenges?

Blue Earth foods chose OAL because they understood the tried and tested Autocoding system being offered meant that they could achieve correct date code and packaging verification with minimal disruption to production.

At Blue Earth Foods convenience, OAL deployed the Autocoding system in a staggered approach. Initially, 2 lines, a central product database and supervisory software were installed. This minimised interruption to production and gave Blue Earth flexibility to roll out the system to remaining lines when required.

For the first phase, 2D barcodes were added to the film & labels. This gave full version control over packaging to product checks, even when a standard 1D barcode was not printed.

Omni-directional scanners were used to check the 2D codes on film and 1D codes on labels which meant that all potential challenges highlighted were solved.

The installation team were easy to get on with and very obliging. They already know the food industry and its standards and as such managed the installation accordingly to eliminate product risk and line downtime
—  Dave Styler, Engineering Manager

Blue Earth Autocoding success

Blue Earth achieved date code and label verification with minimum disruption to their manufacturing operations. Since rolling the system over further lines, there has been 100% data and label verification with no associated product withdrawals or recalls.

Lauren Moir