A labeling machine is an essential component of any robust packaging production line. Whether your company packages food and beverage products or you’re in the printing or pharmaceutical industries, your pressure-sensitive labeling machine needs to be able to provide accurate label placement at acceptable throughputThroughput refers to the amount of goods and/or products that pass through a packaging machine or system at a given rate. rates, preferably without experiencing any unexpected downtime. But with so many brands and models on the market, how does a consumer packaged goods (CPG) companyConsumer packaged goods (CPGs) are relatively low-cost products like food, beverge, dairy products, and personal care items. Oftentimes, the abbreviation CPG refers to the actual manufacturer of the goods themselves. know which machine to choose?
That’s the question I’ve set out to answer here. And though the answer is contingent upon the industry you’re in and the product (or products) you need to label, there are some commonalities to look for before making a decision. In this article, I’ll cover the top five things to consider when comparing pressure-sensitive labeling machines.
1. Labeling Accuracy
Above any other consideration on this list, labeling accuracy should be first and foremost. Once you’ve decided on the exact location for a label on your product, your pressure-sensitive labeling machine should be able to place a label with precision time and again. The content on the label (i.e. the copy, artwork, and design) serves as a message about your product to your customers, but the positioning of the label itself provides an “at-first-sight” indication of your product’s quality. Labels that are askew or otherwise not straight and accurate could leave a bad impression for consumers.
Some labelers are capable of very quick operating speeds, and throughput is vital for keeping production lines moving at an acceptable rate. But the speed of your pressure-sensitive labeler won’t mean anything if the labels aren’t being applied accurately. So when you’re comparing machines, make sure you find one that’s capable of applying precise, error-free labels.
Repeatability is similar to labeling accuracy, but it’s not quite the same thing. With both, the primary consideration is the accurate, exact placement of a label in the same position on a container every time. Repeatability, though, is more of a concern with changeoversA changeover is the transition time from running one item (or SKU) in a manufacturing process to another. Some machines change over using the “recipe” system, where the parameters for different products are stored and then drawn into the machine parameter database. This allows a packaging machine to run different weights, sizes, and volumes with precision.. When changing over your pressure-sensitive labeler from one kind of container to another (or from one type of label to another), consider these questions: will the machine be accurate right away? Will the labels be applied to the correct position from the get-go?
Co-packersA co-packer (or contract packager) is a company that packages and/or labels goods for another company or brand owner. especially are used to switching from one brand, product, or container to another throughout a typical operating schedule. A good pressure-sensitive labeling machine should be able to accommodate these changeovers and begin to apply accurately placed labels on new containers as soon as the first one enters the line. When deciding on which machine to purchase, be sure to consider each machine’s repeatability.
3. Changeover Time
Continuing on the subject of changeovers, they’re an important aspect across your entire packaging line, from a depalletizer to a pallet stretch wrapper and everything in between. On smaller, simpler pressure-sensitive labelers, an uncomplicated changeover could take as little time as a minute. Even advanced machines like Accraply’s 35PW Labeling System offer quick and easy changeovers. In other cases, though, changeovers might involve a bit more effort; operators may have to swap out feedscrews, peeler plates, or wiping system components.
Whatever the case, and depending on the kinds of products you need to label, it’s imperative to consider changeover time when you’re comparing pressure-sensitive labeling machines. Find out what goes into a changeover for your specific products and label styles, and inquire as to how long the process might take. And, while faster is usually better, don’t sacrifice accuracy for speed.
4. Ease of Operation
As we covered in a previous post on smart machine interfaces, operator turnover on plant floors has been trending upwards in recent years. As a result, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs)In the packaging industry, an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) is the company which manufactures the machinery used to facilitate the packaging process. have had to start designing more intuitive, easy-to-use machines that require less training time for new operators. Much of this takes place in the engineering and design phase of machine manufacturing; OEMs work hard to create streamlined machines that balance operating efficiency with access to change parts and ease of maintenance.
From an operator’s perspective, though, ease of operation is best offered through the labeler’s HMI. Next-generation HMIs like Accraply’s SmartLink® offer real-time analytics and overall equipment effectiveness (OEE)Overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) is an approach for measuring manufacturing productivity by considering three factors that impact productivity: quality, performance, and availability. statistics, video instructions for preventative maintenance tasks and changeovers, diagnostic guides, and even on-screen access to parts ordering. While comparing pressure-sensitive labeling machines, see if any of these HMI features come built in. Operators will find machines like these much easier to run, and high workforce turnover will become less of an issue.
5. Aftermarket Support
In an ideal world, packaging machines would run at 100% efficiency with no problems, no downtime, and no lost profits. CPGs and OEMs know, though, that despite their best efforts, problems with packaging machinery are unavoidable. That’s why aftermarket support is key, and as a BW Packaging company, Accraply provides a lifetime of customer support for every machine they offer.
Whether you’re in need of new parts, an upgrade to an existing packaging machine, installation of a new machine, training for your operators, or assistance with troubleshooting, Accraply’s service technicians provide the support you need to ensure the long-term performance and reliability of your equipment. When looking for a new pressure-sensitive labeling machine, be sure to inquire about aftermarket support and the kinds of aftermarket services the machine’s manufacturer provides.
Purchasing a pressure-sensitive labeling machine is a big investment—one you shouldn’t take lightly. There are plenty of factors to consider, but experience has taught me that labeling accuracy, repeatability, changeover time, ease of operation, and aftermarket support are the five that tend to guide the purchasing process for most CPGs. If you’re in the market for a new labeling machine, Accraply’s pressure-sensitive labeling machines are a great place to start. Be sure to keep the five factors above in mind, and you’ll find yourself paired with the right machine in no time.