To know what combo labeling is, you first have to understand what a combo is. A combo is basically a large bin made to hold mass amounts of product for storage and transportation. They contain and protect any food or product that needs to be moved.
In a combo weighing and labeling operation, we like to set up customers with an HMI (human machine interface) to go with a floor scale. Before weighing, a forklift/mule operator in charge of weighing and transporting these combos goes to this HMI where he inputs his ID, a product code (which can also be determined by scanning a product ID label), and confirms a tare weight.
The product is weighed and the floor scale relays that data back to the HMI which then decides what sort of labels are needed for this particular combo/product. A printer outputs the necessary labels and the driver applies them and moves the combo elsewhere.
This process can go on throughout the day with hundreds of different combos, so it is important to get the right information for each combo. This system ensures that each combo is labeled with respect to its contents and makes it very easy for a driver to input the necessary information.
On top of that, this system also helps management keep track of employees. When a driver inputs his ID, it allows management to make sure that their employees are doing their work and gives them a basis for performance recognition.
You wouldn’t want to lose track of a single combo in your plant, so a combo labeling and weighing system could be exactly what you need to keep your operation up to date.
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.
You have spent considerable time and effort to design your label for your manual barcode labeling printer. But, have you given any consideration as to how that label comes out of the printer?
There has always been a debate among people in the industry as to which is better. Here are some things to think about to help you make an informed decision.
The print head works by heating up hundreds of tiny heaters along its edge: typically 200 – 300 per inch.
When these tiny heaters are turned on and in contact with the label stock it creates a reaction on the label causing that portion of the label to turn colors.
Problems can occur when one or more of these little heaters burn out. This will cause a white stripe through the printed portion of the label.
By looking at these examples, one can quickly see that printing the ladder style is the best way to ensure scannable barcodes.
Here is where the debate starts!
The people on the “Picket” side of the fence will argue that they get a higher quality barcode because the edges of the bars are crisper due to the time needed (on a “Ladder” style) for the print head to heat up and cool down between each line of the code.
On the “Picket Fence” style, each line is only turned on and off once. This is usually not a problem until you get into the machines that must print and apply labels at high speeds.
This constant On and Off can also effect the lifespan of the printhead.
If you do decide to print the picket fence style, will your equipment allow you to print a dark line across the top of the barcode? This would allow your operator to more easily see if a segment is burned out before it creates a lot of costly rework.
If you are going to be manually applying your labels at slower speeds, printing the barcode using the “Ladder” style is the best option! If your labels are going to be applied by a machine at a higher speed, you need to consider printing the barcode in the “Picket Fence” style.
Taking these tips into account when designing your barcode labeling application can save you considerable amounts of frustration and cost!
Processor’s looking for “Price Computing scales,” or “Weigh Price Labeling” (WPL) equipment as it is often called, are often discouraged by the cost of the equipment and turn away from looking further into it.
If you are looking for this type of equipment, let’s look at the different types of equipment available and what they are used for.
Manual WPL equipment
The manual units available today come in both retail and industrial forms. The retail units were designed for stores and small lockers that just need a computed price on a label.
The industrial units are designed to be a unit that can withstand the environment within a processing facility and continuous labeling.
Manual units are a great option when the pieces per minute (PPM) are below 12 – 15 ppm.
One person on a line can quite easily take product off of a line, weigh it and apply a label to it in 4-5 seconds; it may take a little practice but it can be done.
The manual units are also moveable, if product being run today does not need a WPL, they move them off the floor and back on when needed, and this makes them a versatile unit.
These units come with different size scales and the ability to print different size labels.
These units will do product labels and can even be used to create case labels if needed.
Most equipment suppliers have a number of options available for you to choose from to fit your application.
Have your supplier run your product and show you how the unit works, be sure to show them all of your applications prior to purchasing the unit, it will save disappointment in the end.
Automatic WPL Equipment
When pricing automatic equipment, be sure your supplier knows exactly what your needs are before pricing a unit. Why get a price on a unit that will do 150 ppm when you only need a unit that will do 40 ppm?
There is a huge difference in price of a unit when speed, ppm, and the number of applicators needed are in question. Here are just some of the questions that need answers:
- Do you need an automatic unit?
- How many labels do you need to apply?
- Do you need a top and bottom labels applied?
- Do you need to print on the label or just apply a preprinted label?
- Do you need to put a code date on a preprinted label which would require thermal transfer ribbon?
- How much does this specific line run?
- What type of applicators do you need?
- What are the conditions in which the equipment has to operate?
- Do you need production data sent real time to a server in the office?
- Do you need all of the packages check weighed?
What we are saying here is that you need a supplier that is willing to sit down with you to make sure that they understand what the application is, and then, make sure that you know what options are available for you to make an educated decision.
When you surf the web and see the price of a piece of “Price Computing equipment”, do not for one moment believe that it is a representative amount for the equipment you need.
Find a supplier that is willing to work with you on exactly what you need and get the correct quote!
Learn more about our Automatic Weigh Price Labeler
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.