Integrating a labeling machine with other machines on the packaging line can be tricky. Luckily, labeling manufacturers have reduced or eliminated changeover problems by designing systems that meet multiple needs.

  Like many packaging machines, labelers are becoming more flexible to adapt to the increasing range of label sizes and application techniques. Diverse product lines require diverse labeling methods-but the demands can often be met by one machine. For example, some machines can include pressure sensitive, cold glue, hot melt (precut or roll-fed) or any combination thereof in a single system.

  As companies become more interested in environmental awareness, downsizing of materials is a common strategy-and this has the potential to spread to labels. As hot-glued cut-and-stack plastic labels become thinner, controlling them in the magazine is the main problem, making sure not to wrinkle them when dispensing and applying. One strategy is a magazine with special fingers to hold the labels in place.

  Labelers, with their many moving parts, multiple axes of motion and operation that involves frequent impacts, have a tendency to wear out faster than many other types of packaging equipment. Having a strategy for refurbishing labelers can help ensure minimal expense and downtime, for any size company.

One such strategy is, when a labeling machine gets to the point where it needs to be rebuilt, to put an existing machine that is not in use back on line. Another is to use a supplier that can furnish the exact same machine from a reserve inventory. That way, the lines keep running product with no mechanical changeovers or downtime until the rebuilt unit is ready to replace the older machine.

Cost savings can vary depending on what new features are installed in the rebuilt machine, but they average roughly 50% to 60% (meaning refurbishing costs about 40% to 50% the price of a new machine). Money isn’t the only commodity saved. Refurbishing also takes a quarter of the time to complete compared to a brand new machine. Some manufacturers keep several models of labelers in stock that have been rebuilt and are ready for immediate shipment for urgent applications.

Refurbishing doesn’t have to stop at simply restoring a machine to its original condition. It can encompass improvements like changing an all-mechanical model to servo-based, or upgrading the electrical controls.

Incorporating new machines into the production line is a cinch, but running them still requires knowledgeable operators. It’s a good idea to get people on board who are familiar with the equipment and can spec out new machines to fulfill a specific need (or multiple needs). For example, a consumer-goods company that invests in machinery with especially sophisticated controls should have employees in-house who are knowledgeable about electronics. The result is efficient line integration.

Not all customers need the bells and whistles. Some systems provide a lower price point and perform well enough to present a point of difference for the user. Additionally, even the most advanced machines should be easy to operate and maintain, to reduce downtime. F&BP