When a machine doesn’t do its job as best as you would like, it is easy to start slinging blame on the hardware, but sometimes the outside factors can mess up an operation.
In the case of Weigh Price Labelers, there can be many outside factors to consider.
Where they go wrong is often in the labels themselves.
Though they might seem like simple little stickers, there is such a thing as bad labels.
Bad labels, by this definition, are labels that don’t come off of the backing paper like they should. These tend to get stuck in funny ways and when they come out, they can be poorly oriented on the product.
You can often tell a bad label by looking at the underside of the backing paper.
If the labels were die cut, you can look to see if the backing paper has a cutout of the label on it. If this is the case, it is much harder to remove the label from the backing paper.
Occasionally, dull die cutting tools can lead to label dust which can coat the face of the labels.
Label rollers on the inside of the labeler are responsible for straightening and aligning labels. When these labels run through, the dust on them can coat the rollers. Once this has happened, the dusty rollers are more likely to allow labels to slip and mis-align inside the labeler.
Bad Photo Eye to Product Match
Some products are domed or have irregular surfaces which can tell the photo eye to prepare the labeler at the wrong time.
This might just take some trial and error to see the optimal level that the photo eye should be set at to allow the label to hit the product accurately.
This just goes to show that the inaccuracies that you might see aren’t always the fault of the labeler itself (often not the case, in fact).
You should make sure that it is set up properly for the type of product that you want to use it for and that the things you are putting in it are of the same high quality.
If you want to ensure that you are dealing with an accurate machine, have a look at some of our intuitive labeling systems.
See our webpage on Weigh Price Labeling
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
If your food plant needs to do Weigh Price Labeling, also known as Case Ready Labeling, keep in mind that there are two main types: Manual and Automatic.
Which approach is right for you depends primarily on your production rates and your capital budget.
As a partner with a Weigh Price Labeling equipment manufacturer, we are frequently asked to help customers decide which approach is appropriate for them.
Those who operate manual systems find that they can usually keep up with about 30 pieces per minute.
As you can imagine, it can be too difficult to keep up with more than that.
An automatic system costs more.
But the return on investment might even be possible for plants that run at or even a little below 30 pieces per minute. It’s a calculation that is well worth running!
Our manual systems have another great feature that our customers really appreciate. They keep track of every weighment and can produce a box label showing the total weight, the accumulated tare weight, and the net weight. Then, when enough boxes have been produced, they print a pallet label.
That’s flexibility and value!
The automatic systems that we represent are capable of amazing speeds while maintaining label placement accuracy. Below is an automatic weigh price labeler.
It is not uncommon for our customers to be able to run more than 100 pieces per minute while getting label placement within 0.08 inches (2 mm) of the specified target.
In general terms, speed is dependent on the size, weight, and presentation of the product.
Larger and heavier products will run at slower speeds than smaller and lighter products. And running one product at a time also enhances speed!
But the automatic systems we represent can handle up to 114 pieces per minute of chaotic product.
Again, that rate is dependent on a number of factors, but it does show what is possible!!
Imagine going to the grocery store and picking up some meat and finding that different packages actually vary in cost for the same selection of meat.
Producers often price these packages by weight with the aid of a weigh price labeler. It is a fast way of doing things, but there are some drawbacks too.
The downsides of weigh price labeling are hard to avoid.
If you are labeling a product that is volatile in the market, there is always a chance that the price per weight might change by the time that product actually gets onto shelves.
In that case, sellers just tend to slap a reduction sticker on the product or have to send it back entirely to be relabeled.
Either of those options would be a pain to deal with as a meat producer, but if you are committed to a price-by-weight operation, then that is just going to be a fact of life.
Having a good automatic weigh price labeler actually helps to offset that pain by increasing production speeds.
For these producers, meat is often packaged manually.
Most operations have a number of employees packing the meat and weighing it at a station, or they have multiple employees packing the meat in one line and sending it to a single scale operator.
This assembly line works for some, but replacing the manual labeling with an automatic weigh price labeler could be of benefit to product flow.
Operators could package the meat and then place it on a conveyor that will cross a conveyor scale.
This conveyor scale will take that product’s weight (minus a tare weight for that product’s packaging), calculate the price, and send it upstream to an in-motion labeler which will stamp a label with that particular product’s weight and price as it goes by.
The labeler can be set up to distribute multiple labels on all sides of the package to fit product specifications.
So, weigh price labeling, manual or automatic, is really the best option for a producer who uses a price-by-weight basis.
An automatic system could replace several manual lines, but different plants have different needs. If you want the most accurate labels and pricing, weigh price labeling is the ultimate solution.
Three things come to mind when consideration of Weigh Price Labeling equipment.
Time, space, and accuracy are vital considerations in selection of all automated equipment.
Weigh price labeling incorporates these aspects in all of the structural components of a well designed system.
The conveyor structure needs to fill the desired needs for operational durability, reliability and smooth efficient delivery for fast and accurate weighment across an in-motion scale.
Of course, the same aspect is true for the label application. Regardless of whether your product flow for labeling is all the same size, or you have a chaotic size operation, you want a system that will put your plant’s label exactly where you want it.
Systems are available for placing labels on the top, bottom and all sides of packaging as needed.
It is important to think ahead and for the realization of easy change incorporation from hardware to label software inputs.
As with your car, you want accessibility to responsive and efficient assistance if problems should arise.
If you have a 24-hour operation, you would probably want the same in the way of customer support.
Because time and efficiency drive your bottom line, internet and system connectivity for troubleshooting or updating items such as time, applicable dates, product information, label format, and weighment information for accurate price calculation are vital aspects.
Simplistic monitoring and adjustment for a line operator is extremely important to fluid throughput.
Off the shelf, or no-proprietary parts will save you time and money on maintenance and repairs. From configurable design, adjustable conveyor speed, and statistical information reporting, all of these needs should be easily met through a competent and experienced equipment manufacturer!