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Digital in the Hands of the Customer

Irish fresh fruit and vegetable producer Donnelly installed a Primera digital label combination print and finishing system to increase the company's level of service to customers.

Bringing High Quality Label Production In-House With Primera's Cx/Fx Combo System

Donnelly Fruit & Veg is one of Ireland's leading suppliers of fresh fruit and vegetable produce. It has been trading since 1979 and its range is sold across Ireland in many well-known stores. The company labels, packs, prepares and delivers to stores every day, guaranteeing the best in season produce.

The company is based to the north of Dublin and last year it installed a label production system from Primera, a combination of the CX1200e Digital Label Press and FX1200e Digital Finisher.

CX1200e label

Managing Director Ciaran Donnelly is very open with the decision to take label production in-house. Buying labels from the trade incurred minimum order quantities, many significantly above what was actually required. Having stocks of label designs meant some could be re-used, but if there was a promotion this entailed applying a separate sticker to the pack.

Donnelly decided to buy its own label printing system when it noticed the growing inventory of unsold labels building up in its warehouse, and when the time to source new labels was felt to be too long. Mr. Donnelly wanted to be more responsive to customer needs. For example, with a good weather forecast for the weekend adding a 'Barbecue ready' flash could help sales in the run up.

product with Primera label

The Primera system is a web fed CMYK toner (electrophotographic) printer, with four separate print engines, that is integrated with a mechanical finishing unit. It takes stock up to 216mm with print width of 203mm at a five metres per minute speed at 1200 dpi. The print is finished in a FX1200e system, with cutting using four digitally-controlled tungsten carbide steel knife blades rather than a mechanical die. It registers to the print using timing mark sensors. Set-up and operation is controlled through an integrated touch screen. It handles a range of stocks including matt and gloss paper, polyester, vinyl, polypropylene and BOPP, and Donnelly also uses Kraft and adhesive grades suitable for chilling.

The press front end has a job cost function, so the company has the information to decide whether to produce a job internally or accept an outside quote if there is sufficient time. In practice quantities up to 20,000 are more cost effective to produce on the Primera system, with higher quantities still bought in. Therefore, the decision will be made to follow the cheaper path unless time constraints mean in-house production is the only way. The quality being achieved is acceptable. On some of the Kraft labels the absence of an opaque white means the result is affected by the show through and some bright greens and oranges are difficult to match accurately but between 95-99% of the jobs are fine.

There were very few teething troubles once a good source of label stock at the needed width was found. There have been issues with adhesive bubbling at the fuser stage for one chilled grade, but this was overcome by substituting an alternative substrate.


The new system has paid for itself through lower costs for short runs compared to buying labels in, and eliminating any redundant stock. The system provides improved flexibility that translates to better service for customers. Shorter lead times are a great benefit for new lines and no minimum quantity mean test marketing with high quality product labels is possible. Customers can produce short run promotions on a single label much more quickly. This increased responsiveness to customer demands is a significant source of competitive advantage for Donnelly.

This is another example of the changing nature of the label supply chain as brands need to be more responsive to the pressures on their businesses. Shortening lead time and more flexibility are constant mantras, enabled by digital technology. Some customers cannot be totally satisfied by external providers for very short runs in very little time, deciding to take production in-house is now a viable alternative with high quality integrated systems such as the Primera CX1200e and FX1200e combo.

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