Result Group has brought ‘natural branding’ to the Australian market, with the introduction of the new EcoMark Natural Branding machine, a non-contact and safe laser marking and labeling system that creates an image on fruit and vegetable peel.
“In over 35 years of coding and marking and spending a good part of those years exploring the world for innovation, I have seen nothing like this system, nor the potential for expansion in other markets outside of fresh produce. Put simply, this can and will re-invent coding and marking in the years to come,” said Michael Dossor, Result Group GM.
“Laser technology is the most environmentally friendly, safe, and efficient method of labeling organic fruits and vegetables for the retail sector; There is no use of plastic or paper labels or the silicon backing paper that comes with them, and only a small amount of energy is required, plus there are zero consumables. EcoMark lasering is ideal for short-term special editions or standard seasonal product labeling,” he adds.
Dossor says Natural Branding is a “completely innovative approach” emerging in the industry to improve traceability and assist in the reduction of label use for environmental and economic reasons. In the process, no inks or chemical additives, packaging materials, colours, or stickers are used – it has the potential to completely eliminate the need for those “pesky” little fruit labels and the silicone liner that goes with them.
Since the new EcoMark Natural Branding system has no labeller, there is zero label cost and no lock in contracts for consumables. It uses a laser to remove color from the fruit or vegetable’s outer layer of skin and literally acts as a tattoo, creating an image on a variety of goods, which EcoMark says is ‘packaging without packaging’ and can produce plastic-free packaging, eliminating packaging costs.The new laser technology can be used on any food with a robust skin, including: apple, avocado, apricot, banana, grapefruit, kiwi, lemon, lime, mandarin, pear, orange, papaya, peach, passion fruit, coconut , fig, guava, papaw, plum, pomegranate, lychee, mango, corn, capsicum, chilli, cucumber, ginger, garlic, onion, carrots, parsnip, tomato, pumpkin, zucchini, artichoke, beetroot, Brussel sprout, cabbage, eggplant, fennel peas, potato, squash, sweet potato, asparagus, turnips, radish, and cauliflower.
Using a laser for the marking, the system ensures branding, SKU level identification, traceability and authenticity, and according to the company, the barely detectable heat used on fruits and vegetables does not produce long-term damage.
The advantage of the system is that it simply depigments the uppermost cell layer of the fruit’s skin and removes the outermost layer of skin, preserving the fruit’s integrity, Result Group says. However, due to its adaptability and ease of production line integration, it is becoming “increasingly popular” for conventional goods to benefit from natural branding without losing traceability.
According to Result Group, the method can also be used for marketing promotions and branding of the product itself, as it has no effect on food quality or shelf life, providing the cheapest way to mark the product in small or large quantities.
With the EcoMark software, new logos and text can be easily and quickly created, ripe and printed, each user can instantly adjust and react to the ness of the fruit or create new products with new logos.
The EcoMark Natural Branding system has four base components – a product handling system designed around the product or products being marked, a 3D camera for vision and mapping locating the exact place to mark the product, and the laser coder or coders themselves, as well as software control that drives the entire system and is “infinitely upgradable”. Dossor explains that there are various laser strengths available that can be fitted within the machine removing speed as a barrier to entry.
“The higher the laser power the faster the marking time and if necessary, multiple lasers can be installed in the one Eco Mark machine. The machine has a fast 3D camera that allows for process times of milliseconds. The technology is capable of keeping up with a modern grading or packing facility and some,” he adds. The EcoMark machine is available in two model series in terms of technical specifications: Light and Professional, both of which are very simple to operate, says the company. The laser systems of the machines are built on a modular basis.
Even the entry-level machine has a conveyor belt, allowing objects to be noted “on the fly,” that is, without stopping. The products can be individually placed, in finished packs or boxes, or even put onto the conveyor belt chaotically. The integrated 3D camera detects the position and orientation of the objects to be laser marked-cut automatically. There is no need for operator intervention.
The information is transmitted to the laser in a few milliseconds, says EcoMark, and each product is marked according to pre-set criteria.
Height differences are dealt with automatically with laser focal distance automatically adjusted by motors moving the lasers up or down.
According to EcoMark, operators without strong PC skills can independently set up the machine for all new products and logos, thanks to the system’s user-friendly software. The only thing the machine operator has to do is press the start button. Production can be switched over in a matter of seconds. Another product can be called up with “a few clicks” to keep production flexible and ensures that the best camera and laser settings are used. As product characteristics of fruit and vegetables change, due to ripeness, moisture content and age, the software allows the operator to react to these changes quickly and easily. EcoMark confirms that various requirements can be met with this machine, regardless of the complexity of the coding to be marked on the product (such as 2D codes Datamatrix and QR, logos, certification, marks, shapes, numbers, and text).
The ultimate is a GS1 Datamatrix or QR code represented by the GS1 digital link standard, says the company. These contain everything from the source of the product to the use by date and origin information; And it is still acceptable for point-of-sale scanning and consumer engagement via any smartphone camera or app, it says.
As a GS1 Australia Strategic Alliance Partner, Result Group sees enormous potential in leveraging innovative technology by collaborating on future projects with GS1 and the entire industry. Result Group is already working with a number of industry bodies providing the tech for growers.
To schedule a demonstration session to learn more about the technology, contact Result Group; To see a demo video of the EcoMark Natural Branding machine click here.