‘Proof is in the pudding’ as OAL installs Greencore Grocery autocoding system

By Jenny Eagle

- Last updated on GMT

OAL installs Greencore Grocery autocoding system
OAL joined forces with Cognex, vision systems and software recently, to present a seminar on the latest vision and ID technologies for the food industry.

As part of the event, Harry Norman, managing director, OAL, talked about how OAL installed an autocoding system for Greencore Grocery to run quality assurance controls on its frozen Yorkshire Puddings at its factory in Leeds, UK.  

Up to 200 different variations of Yorkshire Puddings 24/7

The autocoding machine prevents product recalls related to labelling and date code errors. It has expanded functionality to include quality controls.

The OAL Autocoding system verifies the correct packaging, label and date code is applied to the packs of Yorkshire pudding by scanning the a 2D barcode that is applied on every pack using on line printers. If there is an error the line stops and a supervisor must investigate​,” said Norman. 

Without the system Greencore risked product recalls due to incorrect label and date coding, that can occur for various reasons including human error.

During Christmas time, demand for Yorkshire puddings increases, increasing production and the associated risk of errors. By utilising automation systems like OAL Autocoding we can eliminate the risk.​”

The site has also begun to roll out another OAL Connected module, Factory performance that monitors and reports OEE. This improves the ROI by cutting downtime and improving efficiency.

The Greencore factory produces up to 200 different variations of Yorkshire Puddings 24/7 in various packaging and sizing formats.

Costly product recalls

Caroline Smales, technical manager, Greencore Leeds, said keeping track of production was challenging and the company decided to install the OAL Autocoding system as a result of a costly product recall following a packing error.

Consequently additional checks were implemented to ensure greater accuracy​,” she added.

The team at Greencore realised to ensure product recalls were avoided in the future the Autocoding system was essential to reduce human error from the process.

As well as peace of mind the system removed all the paperwork from the factory floor and became a show piece for the site. What the system has given us is peace of mind and allowed us to regain customer confidence​.”

As part of the quality controls module on Autocoding, the hand scanner installed can be used to take pictures of products. Greencore is using this facility to ensure its Yorkshire puddings have risen to the correct height.

It has built a platform whereby the products are placed on a steel base and the hand scanner secured in a holder.

The back of the platform is reminiscent of a police line-up background with lines to judge the height of the Yorkshire puddings. A picture is then taken showing the rise of the Yorkshire puddings and automatically recorded on the system for use by the Quality Assurance team at a later date.

Heinz baby milk powder

OAL and Cognex have worked together in the past to achieve 100% read rates on high speed canned production lines at Heinz baby milk powder factory in Cumbria, UK.

Prior to installation, Heinz was using a label verification system where one element could only read ladder barcodes and although a separate system was created to read the picket fence barcodes; the readers could not cope with the 97 cans per minute high speed production.

Heinz wanted to upgrade to a more reliable system which could achieve 100% read rates, eliminating any risk of packaging errors.

OAL installed its Autocoding system using six Cognex DataMan 302X readers, enabling at least two of the readers to read the code on the can as it rotated through 360 degrees.

The system was able to handle the convex structure and reflective surface of the large cans.

If incorrect barcodes or ‘no reads’ are detected, alarm beacons and display screens alert the operators who will stop the line and clear the defective product to ensure no incorrect can continues to the packaging area.

Heinz chose the OAL Group Autocoding system because they were the only suppliers we reviewed to offer 100% read rates on products​,” said Robin Sandman, engineering manager, Heinz.

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