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LPAs star in Hardys warehousing

Supplier News

SYNCHRONISING coding and removing human error were behind Australia’s largest wine producer choosing Matthews Intelligent Identification for its labelling systems.

The expanding system grows with the company’s needs, while ensuring future warehousing activities can be met.

Properly warehousing its fine product is imperative to the Hardy Wine Company, which trumped this year’s Royal Sydney Wine Show with a cool-climate Cabernet Sauvignon.

Hardys is Australia’s largest wine producer, with vineyards spread across the major wine regions. (Indeed in 2003, Hardys became part of Constellation Wines, creating the world’s largest international wine business.)

During the past five years, Hardys has been progressively increasing its labelling capabilities, improving its product traceability internally, and, therefore its warehousing systems.

Last year it installed another Label Printer Applicator (LPA) from Matthews, which was integrated into the existing system.

Andrew Byles, a packaging plant engineer for Hardy Wine Company, says this most recent addition is used to apply both carton and pallet labelling.

“We use an overhead scanner to read the carton, and from that information the appropriate pallet ticket is printed and then applied to the pick face.

“The bar codes are for traceability within our own system. None of our customers use them, but the codes have to be in a readable state, so other systems recognise they are not relevant to them.

“The main benefit we’ve achieved by having pallet registration is better warehousing control. We use a scanner on the forklift, so when we pick the pallet up off the end of the line, the stock is booked into our MRP system. This effectively back-flushes materials, so we know a shop order is complete to what quantity, and that we should have an expectation of a certain quantity of dry goods to be returned.

“The warehousing function is still in its infancy, but it’s very effective. Our company will have a requirement in the future to expand that to include which pallets were transported on what days, and how many pallets are in each warehouse — without having to manually verify that information.

“Removing any human reading errors was the main issue.”

Hardys uses EAN 128 bar codes on cartons, with another code on pallets. Both labels also have human-readable text. Bar-code print quality is a strong advantage of LPAs. Byles says, “A prerequisite for the labels was that they be readable from five pallets high.”

Back in the preliminary stages, as with many initial users of bar coding, Hardys found planning the system so it would suit current needs — plus those well into the future — involved some crystal ball polishing, Byles says, along with input from Matthews.

He says the LPAs are straightforward for the operators to use and to learn; finding “none of the usual training issues with most items in plant”.

“We use Matthews’ small character printers across the plant. Such a standard allows interchangeability of parts, and certainly the service they have given us is superb. I would recommend anyone who buys Label Printer Applicator equipment to use the supplier to continue to service it.”

Whether it be selecting equipment or producing fine wine, Byles says Hardys has a unique ethos.

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