When it comes to packaging products, ensuring you’re using the right labelling is key, not just for branding purposes but also to provide your customers with the correct instructions and safety information. But, labelling can be a hugely time-consuming task if done by hand.
Therefore, if you’re looking to increase efficiency and speed in your production lines, you might need to invest in a labelling machine. From how they work to the different types, read on for our guide to labelling machines so you can make the right choice for you and your products.
What Is a Labelling Machine and What Is It Used For?
Labelling machines are used by production lines to apply labels and decoration onto all types of packaging including containers, bottles, jars and tubes. Used mainly to increase efficiency without increasing labour costs, labelling machines improve the speed of applying labels to products and, when compared to manual hand-labelling, offer a much more accurate application.
A huge benefit of labelling machines is that they can also be placed in a production line with other equipment such as automatic filling machines or capping units, to create a full production process.
Why Is Labelling Important?
- Branding and identification: brand identification is key, while shelf appeal helps to grab the attention of customers and so labelling is used to encourage potential buyers to make a purchase.
- Product specifications: in a number of industries such as food, pharmaceuticals, and cosmetics, brands legally have to include information such as expiry dates and ingredients on the products themselves.
- Instructions or guides: labels are particularly helpful when your product contains guidance or specific instructions for use.
What Are the Different Types of Labelling Machine?
Labelling machines are available in a variety of shapes and designs and with a range of functionality. Which one you choose depends entirely on your production capacity along with the type of labelling process you require.
Label machines are available in a number of different varieties depending on usage:
- Manual label machines: machines operated by hand, perfect for smaller production lines.
- Semi-automatic label machines: a versatile machine that is perfect for speeding up labelling capacities semi-automatic labelling machines are usually operated by a hand or footswitch.
- Automatic label machines: mainly used in high capacity production, this machine automatically adjusts as required.
- In-line label machine: automated for high volume projects that require precision and consistency, these machines are easily integrated into existing production and packaging lines.
- Rotary label machine: the best choice for high-speed labelling, rotary labelling machines are large and expensive but offer great efficiency for large scale production lines.
Labelling machines can produce and fix a number of different types of label, including:
- Wraparound labelling: optimising the surface area of your product by applying a single label around the circumference of a product.
- Top and base labelling: the most common labelling type and often used in fresh and prepacked food and cosmetics, two separate labels are applied to the top and bottom of a single product.
- Front and back labelling: often used for branding labels along with variable data such as expiration date of batch number, two separate labels are applied to the front and rear sides of a single product
- C-wrap or clamshell labelling: applies a single label from the top of the pack and down the side, sealing the product.
- Watch strap labelling: ideal for use in the food and cosmetics industries, a watch strap seals a product on both sides using a singular label and is applied across the top and down the side, tucking underneath the product.
- Tamper-proof labelling: Applies one or two labels across the product seal for safety, often used in medicine or alcohol.
What Are the Different Types of Labels?
There are a number of different types of labels, all of which serve a specific purpose and can be fixed to a range of materials, from plastic to steel, glass to aluminium. These include:
- Tamper-proof labels: Labels are also used to provide protection against tampering to ensure the product reaches the consumer unopened and without interference. Sleevers or sleeving equipment, which applies a sleeve of thermoformable or stretch material to the neck or body of the container, are generally used to apply tamper-evident labels.
- Security Labels: used to counter fraud and theft, and give brand protection and authentication. These can include RFID and smart labels, holographic labels, tamper evidence, counterfeit deterrence and source tagging.
- Removable labels: made from custom adhesive,
How Does a Labelling Machine Work?
A labelling machine consists of a number of components and parts that work together to print, apply or spray the label onto your product with little manual effort.
First, you’ll feed the product into the machine via a conveyor belt or roller system, which will then move items to the label distribution area to allow the label to be attached. Once the machine has labelled the containers, they are then ejected.
It’s important to note, however, that even automatic machines will require an operator to set the process parameters and to monitor progress.
How to Clean a Labelling Machine
Regular maintenance and cleaning of your labelling machine are important to ensure it operates properly and efficiently and there are a number of simple things you can do to maintain your machine and make sure it lasts.
After each use, operators should wipe down the machine to remove any dirt or dust, while also checking for a build-up of debris or any issues with the labelling, which should be dealt with as quickly as possible. It’s also a good idea to check every component regularly, such as the gap sensors, conveyor belt and label applicators.
The exact cleaning equipment or solvents you use will depend on the environment the labelling machine is in – for example, machines in food production environments will likely require stricter controls and cleaning processes than if you were labelling shampoo or cleaning products. Remember to always refer to the manual to learn step-by-step how to clean the machine properly.
How Much Does a Labelling Machine Cost?
The cost of a labelling machine depends entirely on multiple factors including the type of container, the style of the label and the state of automation of your machine. Obviously, the simpler the machine, generally the cheaper the cost, while complicated or bespoke machines are much more expensive.
Tips for Reducing Maintenance Costs
Something to consider when purchasing expensive equipment is additional maintenance and repair costs, which can be expensive. When it comes to specialist equipment, these tasks should be carried out by a machinery mechanic, whose job is to keep the machinery operational, or a maintenance technician, who will examine the equipment using diagnostics to find the problem and solution. It’s also worth noting that certain machines will require more maintenance than others depending on the type of machine and its features.
Here’s how to keep costs down:
Regular maintenance is key: From machine inspection to parts monitoring and replacement, by scheduling in regular maintenance, you’re reducing the risk of having to retire a machine early due to failures or faults. It’s also important to keep on top of any updates or industry advancements so that you can schedule in upgrades for optimum performance.
Be prepared for upgrades and repairs: As with any busy environment, the aim is to prevent machinery downtime, however, malfunctions and breakdowns do happen, and it’s important that you’re prepared. Similarly, businesses need to plan to regularly upgrade equipment, machinery and software in order to remain at the forefront of the industry. The cost and timings of upgrades and repairs should be budgeted for
Partner with the right equipment manufacturer: When it comes to customer service, there’s nothing more frustrating than not being able to get in touch with someone when you’re having an issue, especially when it comes to a busy production environment. As qualified technical engineers are required for annual service and maintenance tasks, it’s crucial, when investing in machinery, that you look for a partner rather than simply a supplier.
View our full range of labelling machines today to find the perfect model for your business. Or, to find out more, please get in touch with us today, we’d be happy to help answer any questions you may have.