On the face of it, eggs do not provide the perfect surface for print. They’re curved, fragile and have porous shells – in all they are a bit of a nightmare!
So why would you want to print on eggs? There are many reasons why this is now a necessity.
From a regulatory point of view, since 2011, all grade A eggs sold in retail outlets and public markets within the EU, must have a code printed on the shell, to enable the eggs to be traced.
Every egg should have a code which details the country of origin, the method of production eg free-range and the actual egg producer site code; this allows complete traceability throughout the food supply chain. Additionally, the egg may have the lion logo printed on, which means the producer is part of the Lion Code of Practice, a system which maintains the highest standards of egg safety in the UK.
This gives customers the opportunity to track the source of their eggs, something which is becoming more important as consumers are now more discerning about the provenance of their food. It also gives customers confidence in the product they are buying.
It also allows egg producers an opportunity to brand their products, to raise customer awareness and differentiate their eggs from other suppliers.
As previously noted, eggs are not the ideal shape for coding! Because of the shell’s porosity, any inks used must be safe for food. It is not permissible, under food law for Grade A eggs to go through any washing process so the ability to print on any egg surface, whether rough or smooth, is extremely important.
The coding process must be gentle, as to not break or crack the eggs and the inks must not rub off, even when the eggs are boiled. Lastly, the printed code must look crisp, professional and legible.
The actual process of coding must work seamlessly with the grading process, to minimise production down-time and costs.
The amount of integration is another important factor to be considered – a newer grader will have a greater level of integration and will be able to control the print function. Older equipment will need to have more manual intervention.
The Hitachi RX CIJ series of printers are distributed by Allen Coding Systems and offer a complete coding solution to egg graders.
The Hitachi RX2 is certified compliant for use with Moba’s egg graders; Moba BV is the Netherlands-based market leader in the egg grading industry. They launched their first egg grader in 1948 and have never looked back. Now operating in 60 countries world-wide, they are the recognised market leader in egg grading machinery.
Moba has extremely high standards that must be achieved, in order to fit their selection criteria.
With the RX printer series, Hitachi have met these standards and have received certification for the egg grading and packing machines for the Moba Omnia machine.
The printer system uses the continuous inkjet principle which produces electrostatically charged ink droplets. The CIJ printer systems offer such benefits as:
Print system reliability is a must for use in egg grading operations. Although coding represents a small cog in the whole production process, it plays a vital part and any delays can lead to mounting costs.
It is therefore imperative that the line runs smoothly, and all components operate efficiently.
Since Hitachi is world renowned for their reliability, excellent design and quality, egg graders can have complete confidence in their coding systems and the continued high standard of their accredited CIJ printers.
The first Moba systems with Hitachi Europe’s RX-S Ink Jet printer systems went into service early in 2013 in two production units in Spain. The smaller facility has two printer systems coding 30,000 eggs per hour. The larger unit which uses a total of six Hitachi printers can print 180,000 eggs per hour.
The third biggest egg packer in the UK, also uses Hitachi RX ink jets to code their eggs. The system integrates with their Moba system seamlessly and uses 12 machines for their lines; these are supplied by Allen Coding Systems Ltd.