MEK-free ink: delivering a competitive advantage for Turkey’s top dairy brand
The word ‘Yörükoğlu’ is synonymous with dairy in Turkey. That’s because it’s the name of the country’s leading manufacturer of milk, yogurt, cheese, ice creams and other products, and it’s been in operation for almost 60 years. Having enjoyed decades of success Yörükoğlu wanted to build on their strong market position by working towards two key goals: enhancing their approach to sustainability and increasing product exports.
Finding the right partner
Yörükoğlu recognized they could support both ambitions by transitioning from the use of MEK-based inks on their packaging. These generate Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) emissions that contribute to greenhouse gases. But was there an alternative available and could it achieve the same quality and reliability?
When they considered their options, it was clear that Markem-Imaje (MI) was the only organisation able to supply the type of ink they needed. This was the EB588 ink, an MEK-free alternative made of methyl isopropyl ketone (MIPK), which supports product sustainability by generating 40% fewer volatile organic compounds (VOC) under comparable operating conditions. Working together with MI and their partner in Turkey, Tekomark, they set about making their ambitions a reality by installing three of MI’s continuous inkjet printers (CIJ) 9410 to trial the MEK-free inks.
No compromise on quality
While Yörükoğlu were initially impressed with the ink, with so much at stake, they needed to put it through some rigorous testing. This involved a series of trials in the company’s facilities on a wide range of substrates, including PVC and Tetra. Not only did the company see a 30% - 40% reduction in consumable usage, but they also found that the performance and speed of the MEK-free ink was equal to, if not better than, the performance of traditional alternatives.
Smarter and safer coding
The trials also highlighted how changing over to MEK-free could help Yörükoğlu to reduce their consumable consumption and costs. Some printheads need to be cleaned frequently causing production delays and sometimes include over-complex manual systems which can lead to operators positioning consumables incorrectly. MI’s printheads do not need to be cleaned as often and, together with their smart consumable management system, ensure that all operators need to do is insert the ink cartridge for quick, error-free coding, with no further human intervention required.
With plans to bring their products to the world on a bigger scale, this approach also offered another big win for Yörükoğlu: enhanced food health and safety and the added assurance this would provide for exporting products. MI’s print management system removes the many risks of ink spillages presented by other systems, providing a significant health and safety benefit.
Removing regulatory constraints
The use of MEK-based inks in Turkey is heavily regulated and requirements around compliance change frequently. Because of this, importing them can take around a month to complete, and sometimes much longer. However, MEK-free inks are not subject to the same regulations, meaning faster importing and zero customs red tape.
In recognition of the many potential benefits around increasing performance and overall equipment effectiveness (OEE), plus reducing waste and costs, Yörükoğlu chose to work with MI. This decision led to Yörükoğlu becoming the first company in Turkey to use MEK-free inks, a market first which has given them a significant competitive edge. It also aligns well with their brand values around providing healthy products that help to support well-being.
The MEK-free advantage
To date, Yörükoğlu have installed MI’s CIJ 9410 printers, using MEK-free inks, in two of its plants. However, this is just the beginning. The company recently ordered new printers, with the eventual aim of replacing all 14 of its printers with MI systems.
There is still a misconception in industry that choosing environmentally friendly products means compromising on quality. Yörükoğlu’s experience, as for so many of our customers, proves that this is not the case. As well as enhancing their sustainability credentials and gaining a critical competitive advantage, changing to MEK-free inks has enabled Yörükoğlu to reduce potential accidents, cut waste, lower costs and streamline their processes, helping to support their goals for global growth.
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