16th March 2021
Lancashire based Florna Plants Ltd, is a large-scale producer of garden plants that are grown specifically for the wholesale market. They supply garden centres, supermarkets and high street retail buyers all over the UK.
Set in over 25 acres of lush surroundings, the company grows an extensive range of quality pack and pot bedding plants, as well as an array of premium value plants for containers and hanging baskets.
The ‘green-fingered’ among us will know that every single pot plant or tray of plants carries a plastic flower tag. As well as providing end customers with plant and growing information, each tag is also overprinted with important data; commonly, a Julian Date and Batch Number.
Coding flower tags on a large scale
Florna Plants produce around 40 million plants each year. Producing plants on such a scale requires close to 100 staff members at peak times and a great deal of organisation. They had traditionally overprinted codes onto flower tags by hand, however, in an effort to improve overall efficiency and speed up the process, they began looking for an automated solution that would free up labour, save time and improve the printing quality.
Easy, high-speed overprinting
Florna Plants use a number of different size flower tags – from 54mm x 40mm up to 60mm x 150mm. The tags need to be printed with a durable ink which is clear and weatherproof. Because the plastic is no thicker than most standard outer packaging, the flower tags can be fed through an automated feeding system.
Having used Rotech’s RF Lite feeding system at another large-scale horticulture business, their purchasing manager asked Rotech to come in and demonstrate the technology to the team.
Designed specifically for businesses looking to apply codes to packaging for the first time, the RF Lite is the smallest and fastest sleeve and carton feeder on the market; the compact and portable system is only 800 x 495 x 520mm, making it ideal for packing areas where space is limited.
The adjustable feeder is robust and user-friendly, allowing staff to simply stack their flower tags in the hopper, and then set the required data via the easy-to-use iDesign software.
Having set their required Julian Dates and Batch Numbers, the integrated Integra One thermal inkjet printer rapidly breezed through the sample batch, producing high-quality, durable prints in seconds.
Long-life, low-cost printer cartridges
As well as being maintenance-free, the integrated Integra thermal inkjet printer produces high-quality prints in a variety of different formats. The printer cartridges are long-lasting too – one cartridge can produce up to 400,000 high quality prints before it needs replacing, which takes just seconds.
The impact since installing the RF Lite at Florna Plants, has been significant. They can now print up to 400 tags a minute, and when they want to switch tag sizes, they simply adjust the hopper and away they go. Labour costs are reduced, output has increased, and quality and durability are much improved. We think we can safely say that the RF Lite has been a budding success, again!
“At peak times we are over printing between 40,000 and 50,000 tags per week. With the RF Lite we free up 2 or 3 members of staff and save labour, time and money”.