Case study for the dairy industry

Emmi's Ostermundigen production plant in Switzerland relies on Hitachi inkjet printing systems for batch marking

Emmi processes around one million tons of milk in the 25 production plants spread across Switzerland. The company is number 1 on the Swiss milk market with a production volume of approximately 3.4 million tons of milk. In 2017, the Emmi Group generated sales of around CHF 3.4 billion. Emmi has been operating the Ostermundigen plant since 2003: around 600 employees work there. 330 tons of milk are processed every day – about a tenth of the milk processed by Emmi in Switzerland. Today the plant is the largest Swiss production site within the group. Top selling products from Ostermundigen are the ten caffè latte variations. "This is probably Emmi's most important brand," says Isidor Lauber, the site manager. In 2012, the product group cracked the magic number of 100 million cartons sold. The product portfolio in Ostermundigen also includes numerous types of yogurt, ice cream and dessert, as well as products that serve the high demand for lactose-free milk.


  • PKey numbers to remember are 20, 1500 and 50:
  • Around 50 Hitachi inkjet printers label all products with batch information at Emmi's Ostermundigen plant near Bern.
  • The bonus number is 10, because the oldest inkjet printer produced by the Japanese printing experts has been in service for ten years.

The challenge

At Emmi, no product leaves the factory without the batch number with the following information: on which line was it filled? What is the filling date and what is the best before date?In addition, there is information about the line on which the individual carton was filled and sealed. Inkjet coding technology is ideal for this task. Only inkjet printing can deal with the wide range of covers used: plastic foils, aluminium or even paper. The criteria catalogue for choosing the service partner is strict. The Caffè-Latte lines produce 36,000 cartons per hour, so high performance and absolute reliability are required. The machine operator takes care of the product change and the necessary change of cover printing directly at the line. In addition to performance, convenient handling of service requests is also important. The machine should not stop operating when servicing is needed because the coding machine is blocked. At Hitachi, these service requests can be dealt with within a time window so that production can continue until the next appropriate break.



Cleanliness was an important criterion in favour of the Hitachi solutions. The refilling of ink and solvent is done in a few simple steps and without "smearing" or "spilling". The refilling of ink and solvent is done in a few simple steps. The operator at the line is responsible for the solvent; the ink is replaced by the technician. Production can be carried out for approx. 2400 operating hours with one ink supply. The system is very robust and works absolutely reliably even at temperatures of 45 °C – 50 °C at the lines, with excessive pressure and high air humidity. Cleaning the system is also easy. Only twenty cartons – i.e. two cycles – are required for a product change in order to check the safe functioning of the print heads and correct printing. Emmi does not need an additional control machine at this point, because the high quality of the print can be seen at a glance and is documented in the test report.



With its printing systems, Hitachi was able to establish itself step by step with Emmi in Ostermundigen. The distribution partner in Switzerland is Peyer Marking. Hitachi solutions have been used successfully since 2006. Over the years, individual machines could then be placed on smaller lines. The technicians quickly saw that they had to spend a lot less time than for the printers. In 2012, it was time to equip the large caffè latte lines. It was clear that ten Hitachi inkjets and one reserve machine would be used there, because the overall package simply fit. The overall package also includes service. Hitachi printer solutions offer prompt service with well-trained service partners. Emmi can fully rely on Peyer Marking's service with short response times. When commissioning new machines or systems, there is generally little leeway: When the machine goes into operation, production must continue to run smoothly.

With Hitachi printers, we can integrate the service requirements into our production schedule more easily.
Christoph Wyss
Production manager
We control the print ourselves – the high print quality is easily recognisable.
Etemi Bljerim
Machine operator
The refilling of solvent and ink must be easy and clean.
Isidor Lauber
Works manager

Would you like to find out more

Get in touch with me
Guido Wertli
Business unit manager