How to choose print and apply labelling technology

  • By Peter Lister
  • August 19, 2015
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Like every industry, choice is the name of the game in the coding and marking industry. Frankly, there's a truly impressive amount of print and apply labelling technology out there for you to choose from.

As a consumer, how do you know which is best for your business - especially when you have your own business to manage and run? In addition, what are some of the factors that make one model of print and apply technology more suited to your production line than another?

Moving from one product description to the next, weighing up complex product features, is enough to furrow the brow. But with multiple products on the market, the best way to start your search for new print and apply technology is to look inwards at your business. When you know what you need, it’s easier to get what you need.

Here are a few things to consider.

1. Label Application Flexibility

In order to make a proper, informed decision, first, you need to start at the type of material or substrate that you are applying the label to. Secondly, you need to know where on the item or substrate the label needs to be placed upon. Thirdly, you need to know whether there needs to be one label applied or two. Finally, will the substrate change or remain consistent?

Once you have all of that information in-hand, then you can start to make an informed decision.

There are a number of different printing methods – thermal transfer (with ribbon), direct thermal (thermally sensitive label material and no ribbon) – as well as different application methods: tamp, blow, wipe and more.

2. Line Integration

Regardless of which print and apply product that you purchase, you also have to ensure that it's capable of integrating with your production line. If a labeling machine in unable to integrate with the existing hardware on your production line, it simply isn't going to work.

The correct equipment needs to work seamlessly with upstream and downstream equipment with zero disruption to the rest of your operations to ensure there are no slowdowns and bottlenecks with the rest of your operation. In short, there can be no half-measures which it comes to product printing

3. Machine Size

When you think about it, it may seem obvious, but sometimes, the obvious gets overlooked in every type of decision in life. Will the print and apply product you are considering actually fit on your production line?

It it won't, game over. If it will, we're in business. Let's make certain that we're going to be in business before even considering any print and apply labeler. 

Unlike the machines of a decade ago, some of today’s models are extremely compact and capable of operating in environments where space is limited. Here are our units - as you can see, we've put a lot of engineering time specifically around minimizing the amount of space our machinery takes up in your production lines.

Why? 

We know that space is precious in any factory setting. As such, we want to make sure that our machinery will take up as little space as possible. 

4. Coding

Do you need to apply unique codes to the items you are labelling? We have created print and apply technology that integrates with coding automation platforms. It allows you to combine generic label templates with variable data feeds in real-time. Print the label, add the code, apply the label – all in one fluid process.

Coding Automation products can allow the complete production line to switch to the next product/batch in a single operation meaning reduced risks of the primary, secondary or tertiary coding being out of sync.

5. Speed

Speed is contingent on label size and the amount of variable data and applicator type. Your production line is only as fast as its slowest component. And as long as profit margin is tied to output, speed will be crucial in any manufacturing, packaging or labelling business. But these demands must be balanced against the need for print clarity on your labels. Unless you buy appropriate technology that offers both speed and high resolution.

6. Reliability

Downtime costs money. In the past, print and apply systems have had their fair share of nuisances: wonky labels, missed cases, label jams and broken ribbons. Today’s systems are far more reliable. But if uptime is crucial, look for models that:

  • are robustly constructed
  • have an IP rating that fits your production environment
  • allow easy access to the  printhead for cleaning
  • make it easy to change consumables

7. Compliance

Does your print and apply product allow you to produce labels that hit the minimum requirements for your industry? If not, your purchase could be a mistake that’s at best annoying and at worst very costly.


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