Labeling Systems: Which One Suits Your Needs?

labeling systemsWith so many different types of labelers available in today’s marketplace – and with some companies offering more than forty different models of labeling systems – it can be difficult to know which unit suits your particular need. However, if you are going to make an investment in one of these labeling systems, you need to know fundamental pieces of information for both your current needs and those forecasted in the months and years ahead. This includes what material you will be labeling, the shape of the product and how many units need to be produced in a given timeframe to help determine the speed at which the machine must perform.

Considerations for Selecting from Available Labeling Systems
Here are some key pieces of information to have at hand when researching suitable labeling devices:

Start with the product you need to label and ask yourself:

  • What degree of automation do you desire to achieve the necessary output?
  • What is the product or container to be labeled, and is there more than one?
  • What is its size and shape, and do they vary?

Next, consider the label placement. For example, where on the product will the label be applied? Similarly, you should think about how the label is designed. Know if you’ll need a partial or full wrap label, and/or a tapered label?

Then, you need to think about the production volume required for the product that will receive the label. For example, you can consider the necessary production speeds by measuring the desired per minute unit output of a semi-automatic system versus the cost of a fully automatic system.

From there, other considerations include the amount and type of variable data that will go on the label and machine upkeep. Here are some things to think about:

  • Must Will the label be printed with variable data at the time of application? (“one-for-one”)
  • Are lot numbers, weight, time stamps and/or expiration dates required?
  • Will the data be printed across the entire label or only a specific section?
  • Is training available and, if so, to what extent?
  • What is the suggested regular maintenance schedule for the unit?
  • What is the manufacturer’s customer service and technical support policy?
  • How versatile is the machine for scaling up or down?

Once you have answers to these important questions regarding your labeling systems needs, then it is time to focus only on those available models that match your exacting requirements. Here are some strategies:

  • Specification sheets and marketing materials for each type of label machine often list the answers to these front-line questions.
  • However, you can also contact each manufacturer and inquire with their sales team if you are unsure if a particular model will meet all your needs.
  • Along with this research, you may also want to check with industry peers and affiliates who may have used various label machine models and get their feedback on how the system  has performed.

In Summary
Here are the key points for this blog post:

  • There are numerous types of labeling machines, this mandates  that you do your research and determine your need, specifically based on what type of labeling you need to do and what  volume output you need to accomplish your objectives.
  • Other considerations include label placement, label design, and the type and amount of variable data that will need to be placed on the label.
  • You can then compare your answers to the available spec sheets, sales team responses, and feedback from industry colleagues that might have already put the machines to the test.
Photo Credit: Stefan Baudy

About Jim Umbdenstock

Jim is a business executive with over two decades of experience in the packaging product identification field via printing, coding and labeling of primary or secondary packages through the pallet level.

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