JBT’s recent acquisition of AutoCoding Systems has brought on board a company with a unique skillset into the JBT family. Ensuring the correct labelling and coding is applied to packaging is a hugely important final step on many production lines but achieving this can often lead to downtime for manual inspections and line configuration. Instead, AutoCoding’s process acts as a “virtual assistant” to the line operator and can all but eliminate the danger of misprinting, miscoding and missed QA checks.
Providing software and hardware solutions for the automated set-up and control of complete packaging lines, AutoCoding’s solution integrates and automates multiple systems, covering all devices within a packaging processing line. As well as virtually removing the risk of error, the solution feeds back valuable production data to the operators and factory management.
But how did the acquisition take place? Eddie Holmes, Head of Business Development at JBT Proseal, who was closely involved with the process, says that the initial impetus behind the acquisition came from JBT’s desire to bring on board label and line verification technologies to complement broad JBT and specific Proseal solutions.
As Holmes explains, Proseal had previously worked with AutoCoding Systems on several projects including an installation for a major poultry processor, and he recalls being impressed not just by the technologies, but also by the positive, proactive outlook of the company. “We have done a number of installations with AutoCoding and we loved working with them,” says Holmes. “They are a ‘run to the fire’ type of company, meaning that they run towards and proactively solve a problem.”
From an initial approach in late 2020, the acquisition was completed on March 1, 2021. “The AutoCoding solution manages the workflow and device interaction of the whole packaging line whilst integrating disparate data sources such as ERP and Planning. The automated set-up of the key equipment eliminates the risk of human error and saves time, whilst automated verification ensures all packaging is correct for a production order.” says Holmes.
In this sense, AutoCoding Systems’ technologies act as a “virtual assistant” to the operator, while also gathering performance data which can be used for real time management and continuous improvement. “In addition to the core AutoCoding product, value add modules such as Paperless Quality and LPR (Line Performance Reporting) deliver improved quality checks and real-time data to measure performance leading to improvements in productivity.” explains Holmes. “As a result, the chances of missing a quality check, or incorrectly coding a product are reduced dramatically, whilst companies also benefit from receiving valuable, meaningful data back from their production lines.”
From AutoCoding Systems’ point of view, being part of JBT will enable the company to scale-up globally, taking full advantage of the strength and international presence of a worldwide corporation. “AutoCoding Systems is already a global company with its Head Office in the UK and subsidiaries in Melbourne, Australia and Chicago, US. Being part of the JBT family provides extensive opportunities for AutoCoding to extend into previously unexplored markets for factory automation software,” Holmes adds.