There are many companies building quality labeling systems of both automatic and manual variety, and since speed/throughput in a plant is a big priority, you might be wondering which one is going to benefit you the most. The truth is that there isn’t a clear-cut answer to this question.
A manual labeling system is entirely dependent on the skill and dexterity of your employees, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it will be slower.
While automatic labelers are capable of higher consistency in placement, the speed is dependent entirely on the amount of information and content that is printed on to each label.
Obviously, if there is more information on a label, it is going to take longer to print.
Some people tend to think that an automatic labeling machine will automatically be faster because the conveyor can move product quickly, but this is limited by print speed.
With slower print times, manual and automatic labelers stand on more even ground because manual handling times don’t factor in as much.
Automatic labeling systems become much more feasible with faster print speeds. This lets them take advantage of the faster transfer because automatic labelers can perform their task in motion.
It really comes down to what your labels require.
Plants with less throughput or highly detailed labels might be able to do just fine with a manual labeling station, but an automatic system does have plenty of other benefits as well.
In plants with multiple products, automatic labeling machines can use scanners to identify the package and print out product-specific labels without any sort of stoppage.
As was noted before, they are also capable of getting near-identical placement with repeatability, which can be rather difficult for a manual application.
There isn’t really one good answer.
Automatic might be best for some, and manual might work better for others.
Either way, we have a history of creating and servicing quality labeling operations, so get in touch with us for more information.
The availability of equipment to automatically apply a label to the bottom of a package is improving and increasing every day. As the market increases, so does the demand for this type of equipment. There are a number of things that can make the process a success or a failure as you try to reduce labor cost.
What are the conditions in which you have to do the process?
- Is the room a cold environment?
- Is the room a wet environment?
- Are there strong drafts from cooling units blowing in the area?
Product labelers are sensitive to operating temperatures as well as the environment they are expected to run in. It is suggested that you leave the units plugged in to keep the internal temperature warm, which will consequently reduce condensation inside the unit. Strong drafts near the unit will require different types of label application.
What are the packages like that you are trying to label?
- Is it a smooth flat bottom surface?
- Is it an over-wrap package with a bunched up seam on the bottom?
- Is label placement an issue?
- Is the package under a pound in weight?
When deciding what type of label application to use, (wipe on, blow on, or a bottom tamp applicator), you need to know what works for what type of package.
A wipe on application is a very dependable method of application unless the package is really light (which can be overcome with a hold down device) or has an uneven bottom contour.
Bottom tamps can be used for positive contact unless the package cannot withstand a bump from the bottom.
Air blow on has a challenge with label placement.
What type of label are you trying to apply?
- What is the size of the label you are applying?
- What is the size of the package you are labeling?
- Is the label preprinted?
- Does the label need a code date printed on it?
- Do you need a thermal transfer printing capability or thermal direct?
The label being applied is extremely important; It can make the process a success or a failure.
Applying cold, damp labels is a challenge: they are stiff and the glue is cold.
Warm, dry labels are pliable and easier to apply. Consider taking the labels out of the unit at night and store them in a warm, dry environment. Do not take too many rolls of labels to the work site in the morning, keep them warm and dry.
A stainless steel label storage unit with a heater in it on-floor would be a great option to look at.
The size of label and size of package needs to be addressed prior to purchasing a unit.
Your supplier can suggest what type of application should be used if you give them all of the correct information.
Printing code dates or “Use or Freeze by” dates on preprinted labels can be done. However, you have to have a printing capability added to the bottom labeler with a thermal transfer ribbon being used.
Make sure your supplier knows all of the different details outlined in this article!
When talking about label application, the questions are:
- Where do you need them?
- What do you need for a label?
- How fast do they need to be applied?
Labels can be placed on the top, bottom, or sides of packaging.
The means of applying them can be either direct contact, tamping, a puff of air pressure, or a combination thereof, directing the label to adhere to packaging as it passes on a conveyor.
A key feature to look for is the ability to be consistent with the desired application and location.
Another desired feature is the flexibility and ease for product and label change throughout the production period.
In the case of customizable equipment for example, whether the need is for pre-printed labels or on-demand label printing, the printer applicator unit is completely adjustable as incorporated with their conveyor system.
They utilize the applicable device provided from an industry leader.
In the case of top labeling, the applicator is mounted to a standard conveyor and may be applied directly with an adjustable contact brush insuring adhesion.
Off the shelf components, such as a built in operator display enable operator interface for adjustments such as applicator speed, force, and stroke distance. This contributes to the concepts of simple, fast, rugged and reliable application equipment.
Label printer applicators can be placed on a stand and rolled up to a conveyor for top and side application.
For bottom label application, the applicator protrudes between two precisely designed conveyors and applies the label as packaging passes. When side label application is desired, a tamping arm is triggered to tamp or the label in the desired location as packaging moves along the conveyor.
Compressed air may be utilized to direct label placement in some systems. However, systems are available which are 100% electric.
In all of these application methods, the applicators are triggered by photo eyes positioned to detect the leading edge of a package and initiate the timing for proper application.
The timing for this activity can easily be adjusted via the operator control screen.
Statistical information such as products per minute, cycle count, and peak products per minute can be available.
Such information can also be visible via network interfacing.
The print and apply applicators easily integrate with scale heads, barcode scanners, and other systems.
Whether your application need is for wipe-on, tamp-applicator, tamp-blow, or simply blow-on, there is a line of equipment available to be customized for you.
The discussion between whether automated or employee-operated systems are better has been going on for quite some time. The debate has worked its way into the labeling industry as well.
You might be wondering where we stand on this topic?!
While automated systems are a big part of what we do, there is always a place for user-operated machinery, which is the reason why we make both.
Basically, the more people are required for an operation, the more we recommend an automated system. This is mostly because more employees means more wages and more chances for mistakes and injuries which can really start to add up with high employment. Because of this recommendation, people sometimes assume that an automated system is far faster than a manual system.
This is actually a myth, more or less.
While an automatic system is more consistent and less prone to error, it is possible to get similar throughput out of a manual labeler if the employee operating the station is skilled enough.
This can be done using a touchscreen with hotkeys that act as shortcuts to specify the products before they are weighed. We have seen instances of an employee processing nearly 40 pieces per minute, which is quite impressive. The automatic system still surpasses the manual system when it comes to the label application.
Both can be done fast, but the automated systems are more capable of repeated, accurate label placement.
The manual system requires that the operator hand-apply the label after it is printed.
As you can imagine, it is very difficult for a human operator to put a label in the exact same spot every time without a mess-up here and there.
If you have a large operation, the automated system is probably going to give you the most consistent results, but if you are a smaller business, you should feel safe knowing that our manual labelers are an efficient approach as well.
The best thing about this is that the computing system behind our manual labeler has the same capabilities as our automatic system, so you can upgrade to the automatic system when your business expands, saving costs on an entirely new computer interface.
This goes to show you that we are looking out for your best interests.