Six special applicator units to automatically label pre-packed whole chickens have been developed by Norprint UK for Webbs Country Foods.

The flash labels cover the necks of the chickens and must be accurately placed on an uneven and sloping surface to within very tight tolerances.

A number of labelling companies were approached, but it was Norprint’s Midas labelling system, adapted by Norprint engineers specifically for this job, which met Webbs’ needs. Special curved apply flaps roll over the birds to dispense the labels. The system was perfected by on-site trials.

‘We bought two for the trials, then another four when they were seen to be successful,’ commented general processing manager of the Oakford and Lymington plants, Steve Cardiff. ‘They have since proved to be very reliable machines.’

Webbs Country Foods has six major plants throughout the UK with a turnover of £110m. It supplies poultry products to all the major UK multiples, including own-brand lines.

The whole chicken processed at the Oakford site, near Blandford, where the Norprint equipment is installed, are automatically packed, weighed and labelled in-line, transported from station to station by conveyor.

A computer link form the automatic price/weigh unit instructs the individual label applicator stations so that the correct description label – medium, large and so on -is applied.

Norprint offer a range of automatic labelling systems to apply, print and apply, or print, scan and apply labels to the top, sides or around corners of packs. A choice of heads and applicating technology, from simple flaps to pneumatic airblow techniques, means that even the most fragile products can be labelled in-line. Should the application be particularly difficult or unusual, Norprint’s engineers will work with the customer to adapt existing equipment for their needs.

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