Driving Efficiency with your Print & Apply Labeling Machines

  • By Brad Roush
  • November 25, 2021
  • General
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Labeling systems are inherently designed to be robust and function for millions of cycles of label applications. There are many factors involved to determine the pure efficiency of any automated system, which can be impacted by the human interaction with the system at regular intervals of time, such as preventative maintenance or in the replenishment of consumables for the system. In this blog, the details for each stage in the process are outlined, their potential impact, and the suggested approach to drive efficiency.

Factors that impact Efficiency

Below you will find a comprehensive list of factors that can vary in plant, application, or operator that impact efficiency:

  • Application Product Rate
  • Consumable Capacity of the System
  • Design of the System
  • Quality of the Components Used in the Design
  • Skill of the Operator – Consumable Changeouts
  • Skill of the Maintainer – Preventative Maintenance, Application Adjustments, and Determining Downtime Cause
  • Environment of Point of Use of the Labeling System

Typical Downtime Requirements

There are scheduled and unscheduled downtimes on production systems, with the scheduled downtimes typically used for preventative maintenance. Based on decades of expertise in labeling systems, Domino has provided a list of average downtimes for regular preventative maintenance needs, using the Domino systems as a barometer:

Scheduled Downtime Category

Average Duration (Hrs)

Frequency (in millions of inches of labels dispensed) 

Printhead Changeout 0.1 4
Belt Check/ Changeout 0.1/ 0.5 4
Tamp Pad Replacement 0.1 25
Cylinder (if equipped) Check/ Changeout 0.1/ 1.0 50

For unscheduled downtimes: 

Unscheduled Downtime Category Average Duration (Minutes)   Frequency
Change out label roll  1 Dependent on Application Rate and Label Length 
Change out ribbon roll 1 Dependent on Application Rate 
Clean printhead and printer rollers  0.5  After every label roll changeout
Clean tamp pad         0.2 Every 24 hours

A real life example. Let's put it in perspective.

TGW palm box image grid 800 x 400

Several large Domino customers conducted field trials of labeling systems in production environments to determine the exact uptime percentages and efficiencies. These are all based on trained operators that have several years of hands-on experience with automated labeling systems. One such study was conducted for three (3) months to obtain very good data about the performance of the equipment.

Of course this study is just a sample to provide a baseline of findings for efficiency as it relates to the print and apply labeling machines. However, we continue to see similar findings in a variety of plants, from a variety of industries.

Study Details

  • Product Rate was 80 Cases Per Minute
  • Production was run on three (3) shifts covering 24 hours a day – 6 days / week
  • A Dual Tandem solution was employed to minimize downtime
  • There was a downstream scanner to ensure proper label and barcode in position on each product
  • Any no scan product was charged a 1 minute downtime penalty to account for rework

Study Results

The Domino system performance equated to an average "downtime" of 12 minutes per 24 hour period. That equates to 0.83% downtime, or on the converse, a 99.17% uptime. Since this was a tandem solution, the human changeover time for consumables was removed from the product line performance. There were a few instances a day where the switchover from the downstream labeler to the upstream labeler resulted in a rejected, non-labeled product that was counted as a 1 minute rework penalty. 

Recommendations for Minimizing Downtime

So what to do with this information? Where do you start? Below is a suggested outline of what Domino recommends as steps to implement to reduce downtime, and ultimately drive efficiency. 

  1. In critical uptime applications – two tandem systems should be utilized to negate the human interaction time to reload consumable
  2. Operators should be locked out of system changes (user interface or hardware) to prevent characteristic changes to the system. This is more easily done on the Domino Labeling Systems
  3. For high throughput lines, Tamp-blow or direct wipe-on are primary solutions
  4. For applications that cannot afford to use two systems, the Domino Print and apply systems allow for reloading of consumables without need to fully set back from the line. Domino believes it to be safer for the operator to reload consumables with a system retracted from the line, but it is not necessary as it would be with some competitor models.

That being said Domino recommends as a starting point reaching out to your technology supplier, be it Domino or otherwise. Working closely with your labeling machine supplier will offer depth and understanding in how best to leverage your existing assets to optimize efficiency.

Want to learn more? Connect with Domino North America at solutions@domino-na.com.

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