The food distribution industry has gone through some dramatic changes in recent years. Many of the leading retailers and supermarkets now rely on regional distribution hubs that deliver to multiple areas rather than the satellite warehouses of former years.
Included in this are frozen and chilled food that are stored in huge freezer and chill rooms and delivered in refrigerated vans and trucks.
Whilst these large CDC and FDC (Chilled and Frozen Distribution Centres) offer a more efficient and cost effective method of delivering these cold food items, food traceability laws can cause complications with every single item delivered to the supermarket shelves needing a fully traceable history.
For dry food items this doesn’t provide too much of a problem bar code labels and other labelling systems mean that all items can be tracked from the moment they arrive at he distribution centre to the moment they are placed on the supermarket shelves.
However, bar code printers and other labelling devices can only operate at room temperatures as print heads and printer ink with freeze as soon as the temperature falls below -5 degrees centigrade.
Even industrial printers are unable to cope in these conditions which means any printing of bar codes and labels has to be done outside the chill and freezer rooms and considering the size of these distribution buildings that can take a lot of time and cause logistic headaches as pallets of frozen items build up waiting to be labelled.
Fortunately, a method for printing in such cold conditions has been developed by using a specially designed heated printer enclosure. These unique industrial printer enclosures are specially designed to ensure both the printer and print head work in optimum operating conditions and allow the safe use of printers in temperatures as low as – 20 degrees centigrade.
These industrial heated printer enclosures are even designed to allow the print labels or bar codes to be removed without allowing the cold to damage the print head.
Heated printer enclosures have increased efficiency in many CDC and FDC distribution centres and are now standard for many large food retailers, supermarkets and distribution centres.