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
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
April 30, 2008