ABOUT PREP KITCHEN
Prep Kitchen was established in 2016 and originally started out as a health food restaurant in Southend. Reacting to consumer demand, they started delivering healthy and freshly prepared dishes locally, direct to people’s doors. The ready meal delivery service proved to be a great success, so much so, that Prep Kitchen expanded business operations and launched an online shop. Moreover, its range of foods continue to be developed with 29 meals now tailored across each of four categories: balanced fat loss, balanced muscle gain, lower carb fat loss and lower carb muscle gain.
READY MEAL PACKAGING CHALLENGE
Poor Label Application
The success of the ready meal service was not being mirrored in the factory environment. Subsequently, Prep Kitchen was experiencing many issues with its banding machine for applying ‘strap bands’ to its product ranges. Machine downtime was a common occurrence in the factory as the banding machine was causing so much disruption. Most notably, was the slow label application and blockages in the machine were frequent, due to the strap bands creasing up when being fed through. And on changing to a new product, with a new reel of banding material, a large amount of this material was being wasted. These issues led to spending more on staffing, as the banding process is partly manual. And to add insult to injury, the finished result was a poor quality label that did not reflect the standard of Prep Kitchen’s foods. Prep Kitchen decided to seek an alternative labelling machine coupled with a different style and format of label for its ready meal packaging.
In addition to the ready meal label issue, Prep Kitchen was also having problems with its plastic ‘takeaway’ container. The lids were proving inconsistent in the application process, with some lids not fixing to the plastic tray at all. This again, lead to further frustrations and downtime in the factory. Consequently, the decision was made to source a different tray and sealing process for its range of ready meals.
After fully researching alternative labelling methods and technologies, Prep Kitchen decided to switch to linerless for its ready meal packaging.
Nobac 5000 Applicator & Linerless Labels
Prep Kitchen purchased a Ravenwood Nobac 5000, capable of applying linerless labels at rate of 150 ppm. The Nobac 5000 linerless applicator is a fully automated linerless sleever and the only machine approved for applying Ravenwood’s linerless labels.
The Nobac 5000 applicator has also been fitted with Thermal Transfer Coders: a 53mm Falcon and 106mm Eagle. With the integration of the Coders, the printing of variable data in two separate locations on to the same label is an added functionality. With multiple recipes and SKUs, Prep Kitchen love the flexibility that the Twin Coder has to offer. The Coders boast fast print speeds and minimise downtime with the ability to change printed ingredients on various batches, quickly via the Coder interfaces. At present, Prep Kitchen is utilising the face of the label for print but there are plans to make use of the reverse, with additional product information, marketing mechanics and promotions. Due to the absence of the label liner, linerless labels benefit from double the surface print area with both sides of the label free for print.
Prep Kitchen’s labels are printed by a Ravenwood approved linerless printer:
Coveris has advised both on label design and has assisted in the seamless transition from the previous method of label application to the Nobac 5000.
New Tray and Sealing Method
Ravenwood recommended machinery distributor, Versatile Packaging, based in Ireland, for the new ready meal tray, and Proseal UK to provide a tray sealing machine to seal them. Again, both the tray and sealing process outperforms the previous ‘takeaway’ tray. The Proseal sealer can seal trays at a rate of 60 ready meals per minute. The finished result also boasts a much improved presentation.
Switching to linerless for Prep Kitchen’s ready meal labels and changing the tray format, has completely transformed Prep Kitchen’s packaging and labelling facility. With business operations expanding, there was an urgent need to drive more uptime and increase throughput. Prep Kitchen has now fully automated its labelling processes and subsequently, reduced the number of people on the production line. As a result, this had led to an increase in line efficiency and a reduction in costly downtime, attributed to the previous labelling method.
According to Prep Kitchen’s Director, Mark Morley, the presentation of the linerless labels on pack is also unmatched when compared to strap bands. Subsequently, linerless has been rolled out to all four of Prep Kitchen’s ready meal ranges.
For further information on this Case Study, contact Natalie Bell, Marketing & Events Manager at Ravenwood Packaging +44(0)1284 749144. Visit Prep Kitchen’s website.