Glanbia, one of Ireland’s largest food manufacturers, has implemented a print and apply solution from Zetes. The solution developed enables Glanbia, whose famous butter brands include Kerrygold and Avonmore, to comply with a new customer requirement for full product traceability and the highest possible quality standards

Currently all butter manufacturers in Ireland are required to assign every pallet of butter produced with a unique label combining information including the manufacturer, weight, lot number, pallet number and best before date.

Zetes is a specialist in the field of print and apply and was a natural choice of supplier. The company currently works with manufacturers from all sectors of industry to provide effective printing and labelling solutions, including advanced serialised labelling solutions for the pharmaceutical sector to combat counterfeiting. It was as a result of this expertise that Glanbia decided Zetes had the right skills to implement a unique labelling solution for its butter division.

We were concerned that this new customer requirement would have an impact on our production costs and so looked for a solution that required minimal levels of human intervention. Our IT department initially recommended we work with Zetes as local specialists in automated identification and data capture,” says Gerry Warren, Butter Store manager at Glanbia.

Glanbia’s application has been installed at the end of each butter production line and works in conjunction with their existing pallet wrapping system. Pre-loaded pallets of butter are placed onto a wrapping turntable ready for shrink-wrapping and a traceability label is affixed after this stage once the correct pallet is automatically identified. The print and apply solution developed by Zetes uses wireless technology and MCLNet as its communication and dispatching programme. This directs the Motorola wireless handheld scanner, Datamax A Class printer hardware and a Zetes dedicated print and apply applicator unit. 

Using the MCL programming language, Zetes has effectively turned an ordinary industrial printer into an intelligent device able to capture information from a variety of different databases and combine the results to create a unique number for each pallet, without the need for additional PCs. The unique pallet number is produced by combining both the lot and best before date information.

After loading, the pallet’s existing barcode label is scanned and a new label combining any additional production and traceability information required is generated automatically. To complete this stage, the printer effectively recognises individual pallets before they are shrink-wrapped on the production line and is able to generate the correct label for application after wrapping. By integrating the label printer with Glanbia’s product database, details relating to lot number and expiry date can be captured and combined with manufacturer information in a single label. The label is then transferred to the applicator pad ready to be affixed to the pallet following shrink-wrapping.

Glanbia estimated that without the print and apply solution from Zetes, they would require extra staff to manually produce labels and apply them to the finished pallets

“The solution is completely automated and our only involvement is to replace label rolls when they run out,” says Warren. “It has eliminated the need for additional staff to manually produce labels and there has been no impact to the volumes of finished goods we can dispatch each day. We are delighted with Zetes’ solution, it does exactly what we require and always runs smoothly.”

Robert van Vliet, managing director of Zetes Ireland says: “This is a mission critical solution for Glanbia. The advantage of Zetes’ approach using MCL to create intelligent print and apply devices, is that the solution is as robust and reliable as possible to deal with Glanbia’s busy and demanding customer requirements.


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