New product development: Customer Focus
By Wil Murray, Senior Director of Operations
Reading time 3 minutes
Sinclair takes pride in the products and services we’ve developed over the years. As the leader in fruit and vegetable labeling, it is one of the key factors that keeps us at the top of the industry. Even after 39 years, we continue to exceed customer expectations using our unparalleled experience, tracking trends and listening to our customers’ evolving business needs. Listening is key to our ongoing success and allows us to be flexible and focus on packinghouse efficiency, product customization and plan effectively for a sustainable future.
Product development efficiency and flexibility
Through our continuous product improvement program, Sinclair has made great strides in all four of those areas by listening to our customers. We have completely updated our pattern labeling systems leveraging new technology to introduce a new Vision Recognition System (VRS) to our PL1, PL4 and CPL labeling systems. The introduction of VRS to the CPL (Compact Pattern Labeler) is a key improvement for customers as smaller packing lines can now utilize the benefits of VRS on the labelers best suited for the pack style and throughput. In the last twenty-four months we expanded the range of our automated label application systems by launching the Large Label V6 machine (LLV6). The LLV6 applies the largest labels Sinclair has ever manufactured for large fruit and vegetables such as watermelons, pumpkins and squash. The ability to provide new solutions to our customers’ challenges ensures customers have more choice, more flexibility and more efficiency in how they pack and label.
Sustainability now and for the future
Sustainability has always been a part of Sinclair and is even more of a challenge in today’s world. By launching EcoLiner in 2014 Sinclair was the first to provide certified compostable backing paper. This was closely followed with the launch of Sinclair EcoLabel®, the first OK compost - Industrial certified label in our Industry. Sustainable packaging solutions will continue to evolve and improve in the fresh produce industry. Sinclair is currently developing a home compostable fruit label and hope to announce more information very soon.
Automated application of fruit and vegetable labels has always been a bit of a messy business but it brings labor and cost efficiencies to the packinghouse. However, Sinclair has never been one to rest on the status quo. While we realize application is only one small part of the packinghouse process, we want to support customers and mitigate as much of the mess as we can control.
In 2020, we began a trial of using covers over sizer brushes. Sizer brushes have the unenvious reputation of pulling labels off the fruit or vegetable and holding onto them in their wiry configuration or displacing labels onto the packinghouse floor or other equipment. It might not seem like much, but in scale of 100 million labels it grows to be quite significant. Through product development and field trials, the brush covers have shown significant reduction in label mess on the machinery as well as increases in labeling percentage performance. This is a win-win for everyone involved, labeling performance improves, packinghouses are cleaner, cleaning costs are reduced and there is less maintenance of equipment required. We are on track to commercially launch the brush covers this summer, 2021.
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