The new technology involves printing readable content on the entire package, allowing any point of it to be scanned to give a price, but using unobtrusive images that do not impair the packaging design or visibility of the product.
Demand is expected to be greatest in Japan, where human resources are so scarce, retailers want to dispense with cashiers – unemployment is 2.8% as of February 2017, according to the government’s Statistics Bureau. However, Ishida is confident that companies worldwide will also show interest in the technology, as populations shrink and automation becomes increasingly popular in other countries too.
Meanwhile, the company is continuing its innovation in the weighing sector. It hopes to maintain its position as a market leader in industrial equipment.
Some 80% of fixed-quantity pack products in supermarkets in Japan are weighed using Ishida’s systems, the company claims.
For automatic weighing, the company has produced an in-house mainstream load cell, providing accurate weight records, and is gradually adopting a force balance system for high-speed weigh-checking. It is also creating wireless weighers and thin weighers for use in stationary weighing, as well as automatic cutting technology for backless food labels.
“In the industrial machinery field, we are working to improve the performance of each weighing, packaging and inspection model, including our screw feeder, as well as our line system,” an Ishida spokesperson told GlobalMeatNews. “Recently we added a remote monitoring function, so that we can always check the operation status at sites, and ensure a high operating level is maintained.”
Ishida’s screw-feeder multi-head weigher allows the weighing and packing of portioned fresh meat to be fully automated. Unlike a conventional vibration-type feeder where staff are required to weigh meat, the Ishida system uses screws with a high level of transportation power, resulting in greater production capacity. As staff are not involved, a higher degree of sanitation is possible, and an X-ray machine within the system checks for foreign objects.
Ishida estimates that its multi-head weighers have improved business productivity and reduced loss, with speeds of up to 210 weighments per minute and accuracy of between 0.5-1 grams.
After adopting the system, UK foodservice supplier Fairfax Meadow reported it had achieved 2% accuracy on its 0.5-2.5kg of diced and minced meat packs, and output speeds are now “far in excess of those attained with the [previous] manual system”.