Automation secures Kinnerton's packaging, label and date codes


Kinnerton, founded in 1978, was the first confectioner in the UK to offer chocolate treats depicting children’s favourite characters. In 2002, Kinnerton expanded to Australia. They now produce a wide variety of confectionery treats from Easter eggs to Advent calendars for a number of major retailers. Allergens are very important and Kinnerton takes great pride in their ‘nut safe’ promise to manufacture safe and delicious chocolate.

What challenges did Kinnerton face?

For compliance with retailer codes of practice, and to support operational efficiency and productivity, Kinnerton were looking at label verification and date code control systems. A breach of the codes of practice can result in onerous fines and loss of reputation.

After reviewing a number of suppliers, Kinnerton chose OAL Autocoding, Mike Gee, Head of Engineering, explains why:

OAL’s Autocoding system had already been tested and proved very successful so the decision to purchase was easy. OAL’s ability to offer 24/7 support and for the single system to offer paperless quality checks, OEE and traceability at a later date were key drivers in our purchasing decision.
— Mike Gee, Head of Engineering, Kinnerton

Technical solutions

OAL Autocoding was successfully installed across five of Kinnerton’s packaging lines. The system ensures that the correct label and date code is applied to every product. Each line has a touch screen terminal that links and controls Cognex Scanners, printers (ICE and Markem SD5 Thermal transfer labellers), check weighers and a master database of products.

The site has piloted OAL’s OEE Performance module. The system records downtime in real time providing the tools to improve operational efficiency. Interesting installation features and benefits include:

OEE Performance

Utilising the same touch screen panel installed as part of the OAL Autocoding system, downtime can be recorded and feedback given in real-time. If a defect product is detected by the scanners then the line is paused. To resume, a senior operator must investigate and record the reason for the defect on the touchscreen terminal. The data captured is real-time and accurate and thus can quantify lost time and measure the efficiency of equipment to maximise production and operations. This allows Kinnerton to identify problems and address them, taking a proactive approach to downtime.

24/7 Support

A dedicated team of OAL support engineers with extensive knowledge of Autocoding and OEE is available on a 7 day and 24-hour basis. Support services include remote access, help desk advice and hardware together with planned and emergency visits.

Paperless Quality Assurance

The installation of OAL Autocoding has enabled the site to pursue a paperless packing area. The system can be used to schedule line specific quality checks with various triggers. Checks can include images of running product using the handheld barcode scanners, confirmation of metal detector timed checks and confirmation of safety checks.


The introduction of the OAL Connected system ensured Kinnerton complied to the high standards set by retailers. OAL Autocoding ensures the correct label and date code is applied to products and the performance module provides Kinnerton with ability to drive continuous improvement with OEE.

Lauren Moir