With automation, the cloud and new innovative printing solutions, there are many ways to create new and unique labels easier, faster and better — for everything from a glass vial to a shipping carton. Here, we cover an automation solution that boosted a label printer’s production by 50%, a label management system stored in the cloud, a barcode printer that prints a packing list and shipping label on a single label, and a new adhesive designed that can be used in temperatures as low as -65˚ F.

Label Production Boost

Esko (esko.com) has partnered with HP Indigo (hp.com) for more than 15 years in the development of digital printing solutions for label printing. The two are focused on delivering next-level prepress workflow automation across the entire packaging supply chain. 

Esko’s latest preconfigured Automation Engine workflow prepress solution for label converters is a web-based solution that automates prepress tasks, speeds up the process, reduces errors and minimizes the need for operator intervention. As a result, the system enables converters to grow production capacity without increasing headcount.  

“The difference that the combination of these technologies is making to our business is astonishing. We have increased our productivity by up to 50% since implementing Automation Engine in our facility, which took less than one week to install. The speed and accuracy of jobs now reaching the press is outstanding, enabling us to grow and have more flexibility to respond to our customers’ needs,” said Adi Levy, CEO of PEERPRINT Ltd., a leading Israeli label and packaging converter using HP Indigo digital presses and Esko Automation Engine.

The latest system can be up and running in under a week, or a bespoke solution can be designed to the specific converter environment. Customers can also further fine-tune workflows to best match any challenges of their system.

Cloud-Based Software

NiceLabel (nicelabel.com) just released its cloud-based label management system, and Lee Patty, vice president and general manager of Nice Label Americas, tells us what it is and what it can do.

“A cloud-based software-as-a-service (SaaS) labeling solution allows users to centrally manage label design, product data and quality control, with sites, suppliers and partners able to access the information in the cloud and print their own labels locally. These systems ensure businesses can move easily and quickly away from legacy IT solutions that may be a hindrance to process. It also means that more people within a business can design and print labels, quickly and easily, and can have access to the right versions and the most accurate data. 

“A digital approach to the quality assurance of labeling effectively removes human error from the process, which also takes away risk and cost. It is also easier to secure the process and provide an added measure of traceability. First, only people with proper access can amend data or change the label templates. Second, digitizing the label management system provides users with an extensive audit trail that details which changes have been made, who they were made by, when labels were printed and what was actually printed. This traceability is vital for meeting compliance requirements for regulated industries such as food & beverage, pharmaceutical, etc. 

“The cloud solution delivers benefits such as cost savings, as there is no need for an IT infrastructure; ease of use, which means IT is no longer needed for the design and deployment of labels; increased agility; and faster time to market. Most importantly, quality assurance is digitalized, eliminating manual quality control processes, reducing labor requirements and costs, and minimizing risk and error. 

“A label management system hosted in the cloud gives companies a full label management system at a lower total cost of ownership. It is an attractive option for smaller companies with fewer resources available to support a labeling system.” 

The Amazon Effect

Theresa Lee, product manager with Toshiba America Business Solutions (toshiba.com), shares how labeling for e-commerce — specifically for Amazon — has changed due to retail and consumer behaviors.

“The ‘Amazon Effect’ is impacting us all. Amazon changes the entire retail landscape as well as American consumers’ method of purchasing. Retailers are scrambling for e-commerce sales as this slice of the pie is expected to grow at a faster rate (12%) than purchases at traditional stores. And as more people purchase online, two-day delivery is becoming the norm, which means retail order fulfillment efficiency is the one element within logistics that can make or break e-commerce business.  So, order fulfillment centers are being driven to leverage new technologies and turn to automation to meet today’s customer expectations.  

“Toshiba’s double-sided barcode printer (the DB-EA4D) plays a key role in streamlining order fulfillment within the shipping process. The innovative printer features two printheads and reduces steps in the progression by producing both a packing list and shipping label on a single label. In addition to the time and labor savings, the new printer is more ecofriendly because it eliminates having to dispose of multiple documents. 

“The ‘Amazon Effect’ is also having a direct impact on the logistics space as major couriers — such as FedEx, United Parcel Service and the United States Postal Service — are often the contractors for home deliveries. The spike in shipping volume challenges couriers to enhance efficiencies while streamlining operations. Toshiba’s linerless desktop barcode printers (the BFV4 series) use labels sans liners and are equipped with a cutter so labels no longer need to be manually peeled, resulting in an ecological benefit as well as a savings in time.   

“As the shipping volumes increase, many fulfillment centers must optimize operational costs. For example, Amazon shipped an average of five billion parcels worldwide in 2017 while incurring $21.7 billion in shipping costs. Toshiba’s Ribbon Save Technology, an innovation offered on its industrial printers promotes operational savings. Using algorithms, these printers save a significant amount of ribbon.” 

The Other Label

By Michael LeRoy, senior product manager for Avery Dennison

The right label, the right design, the right look, the ability for a label to speak to consumers via augmented reality — one or a combination thereof — can play a major role in getting a brand into a consumer’s hands. 

Labels also play another useful and important role. More than 14 billion parcels were shipped in the U.S. last year, and a large percentage of those were the result of e-commerce sales. And that means the need for reliable shipping labels. 

E-commerce: The Sky’s the Limit

E-commerce is growing at an exponential rate. Companies are working feverishly to make products and catalogs available online for 24/7 shopping. The U.S. Department of Commerce reports that online retail has grown 300% between 2000 and 2018 — and that will only grow. 

And as more consumers shop online, their expectations regarding shipping has evolved: They want it shipped for free and they want it fast. A late-2017 survey by Alix Partners revealed that the maximum delivery time expectations have decreased from a maximum delivery time of 5.5 days to 4.5 days. As we all know, many companies offer 24-hour shipping, and — for a price — same day delivery is available in many areas. 

Reliability Is the Key

Brands that in the past relied strictly on selling via on store shelves realize that they must also cater to the online shopper. Some do so by selling strictly through third party online retailers, while others take on the sales and shipping via their own websites. Shipping these products takes on a life of its own in terms of labeling — typically paper labeling that must perform in a wide variety of environments. Shipping a package to Nome, Alaska in February shouldn’t mean that its label should have to differ from one being used on a package being sent to Miami. 

Avery Dennison recently introduced TrueCut All-Temp Adhesive Technology (AT2550), a new adhesive product designed to work with thermal labels, performing in temperatures as low as -65 degrees F with significantly less ooze, an issue that can lead to printer jams or printer damage. 


Avery Dennison’s TrueCut All-Temp Adhesive Technology
Avery Dennison’s TrueCut All-Temp Adhesive Technology works with thermal labels, performing in temperatures as low as -65˚ F.


So Is Sustainability

Nearly every company these days has a sustainability tenet in its mission statement. Who would imagine that a label adhesive can play a part in meeting those goals? But the issue of shipping label “stickies” small residual particles from pressure-sensitive paper labels combining with other paper in the recycling process — costs paper companies more than $700 million each year due to damage. This new adhesive is fully repulpable, preventing the problem and helping ensure full recyclability of the products that use it. Time is of the essence; the U.S. is running out of landfill space due in part to packaging that fails to meet the need of the modern economy.

 “Shipping label” is a broad term, and consumer shipping comprises just one aspect. Reliable, sustainable shipping labels and adhesive combinations in warehousing, freight depots or packaging lines also make up this category. It’s a critical time in the packaging industry as we are dealing with the explosion in online shopping (and shipping) plus the increased pressure to recycle more of that waste stream. Specifying the right label/adhesive combination for a specific application is an important step in supply chain success.

Michael LeRoy is a senior product manager for Avery Dennison’s label and packaging materials. He manages the paper portfolio to drive innovation and bring new products to customers. As a result, the company was able to launch this adhesive to help converters and end users with their packaging needs.