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Maintaining print quality until the cows come home

For over 125 years Rodda’s has enjoyed an enviable reputation for the excellence of its Cornish clotted cream. In order to ensure that its labels, barcodes and packaging are of similar quality it uses printing technology from Toshiba TEC.

In 1890 Eliza Jane Rodda started making Cornish clotted cream in her farmhouse kitchen located in the heart of the county. It was an instant hit with locals and she was soon sending consignments to top London food shops, whose customers couldn’t get enough of this delicacy.

The B-SX5, five-inch industrial printer, provides superb reliability and performance at an incredibly low TCO
The B-SX5, five-inch industrial printer, provides superb reliability and performance at an incredibly low TCO

Milking it
The company continued to grow and apart from a break between 1939 and 1953, due to World War Two and subsequent rationing, it has led the way in Cornish clotted cream production. In a history peppered with innovation, in 1971 it became the first company to use insulated packaging to send its clotted cream by post, so that it could be delivered fresh to customers’ doorsteps.

Rodda’s has always been fiercely proud of its heritage and in 1993 spearheaded a campaign to have Cornish clotted cream awarded Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) status – a guarantee of authenticity. Five years later the PDO was granted and now it has to be made in Cornwall to the traditional local method, using Cornish milk. Described on its website as ‘thick, unctuous and thoroughly dollopable’ Rodda’s clotted cream continues to win fans all over the world and the company now employs 135 people in its factory, who also make butter, crème fraîche, custard, milk and pouring cream.

Production values
The factory produces 26 million units a year and due to the nature of its goods having short shelf lives, the period of time between manufacture and consumption needs to be as short as possible.

Chris Quelch is Operations Manager at Rodda’s, and explains, ‘We have to operate a slick production line and run a fully automated programming system. This means that new orders are printed off every day and we then produce, pack and send them as fast as we can, while always adhering to the highest standards of quality. Our printing technology forms a vital part of this process and that’s why we rely upon devices from Toshiba TEC.’

Quelch was introduced to Toshiba TEC four years ago via Hayle based Citrus Print Solutions, which provides all of Rodda’s labels and consumables. He says, ‘Our previous printers had just about reached their end of life and Ben Easterling at Citrus waxed lyrical about the Toshiba TEC B-SX5 industrial printers. We arranged to take one on a trial and during that period it became an invaluable part of the production process. Its ease of use, low total cost of ownership (TCO) and reliability were all immediately apparent and it didn’t take me long to decide that this technology would make a significant impact on our production process.’

Features and benefits
The B-SX5, five-inch industrial printer, provides superb reliability and performance at an incredibly low TCO. Constructed from heavy-duty steel, this powerful radio frequency identification (RFID) machine is suited to any high output application. Its near edge head offers improved print head life and excellent overall print performance.

Becky Viccars, Marketing Manager at Toshiba TEC, states, ‘The B-SX5 thermal transfer/direct thermal printer takes barcode label production to the next level, making it ideal for the highly demanding food production sector. Its high speed printing leads to increased efficiency and productivity, while downtime is minimised and productivity maximised thanks to its robust and resilient construction.’

Code of conduct
Rodda’s employs two B-SX5 devices in a master and slave formation, so that if one machine requires any maintenance, or simply replenishment of consumables, production is not interrupted. They are used primarily for end of line case labelling and the barcodes used for packages that are send to wholesalers and private customers. In order to optimise efficiency, these have to be produced on a ‘right first time’ basis.

Barcodes need to have a consistent level of quality and readability before they enter into the supply chain, to avoid poor traceability. Unreadable barcodes will usually require re-labelling, re-scanning, or even manual entry of critical information by a human operator – disrupting the productivity of the process and causing significant loss of time.

Thanks to the use of the B-SX5s this isn’t a problem for Rodda’s and Chris Quelch states, ‘We get a great quality barcode every time. We use a barcode validator to check for and identify various issues before barcodes enter into the supply chain and they are always ISO A or B standard, which is excellent and gives us valuable peace of mind.’

A bright future
Business is booming at Rodda’s and demand for its products continues to grow amongst dairy aficionados. Chris Quelch sees the B-SX5s as playing a vital role in keeping up with this demand and concludes, ‘As our Internet related business becomes more popular, we are looking to make the production chain fully automated and integrate the devices to enable inline case printing. This will make a huge difference to overall efficiency and labour costs and is just another way that the Toshiba TEC B-SX5s continue to add value to our operation.’

Further information is available from Becky Viccars at Toshiba TEC by calling 0843 2244 944, emailing or by vising the website on

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