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Automate Your Label Printing and Application

08 April 2015

Automate Your Label Printing and Application

Label-Printer Applicators are self-contained units that combine a high-density thermal/thermal-transfer label printer with an automatic label applicator to simultaneously print and apply pressure-sensitive labels to the tops, bottoms or sides of products right along the conveyor line.

These applicators have been around for some time now and although the hardware hasn’t changed much, the control systems and operational features have.  Smarter network control, real-time reporting capabilities, operational automation and smarter integration capabilities have made this technology applicable to an ever-increasing range of supply chain environments and business types.

The addition of a label-printer applicator can greatly improve the performance of a production line with speed and detailed programming functionality.  You can print and apply labels far more accurately (within .1mm) and faster (up to 2 labels per second) than by completing this process by hand.  Fitted sensors will identify and respond to variable sized products for greater flexibility.

Custom Configurations
A vast array of configuration options is available. Label-Printer Applicators no longer need to be placed on a standalone frame in an upright position -  they can be mounted directly onto a conveyor, rotated on its side, held above a production line and even encased inside a sealed protective screen where the environment hinders the printing of labels (such as with dust or temperature extremes).  Where space is at a premium, the label applicator unit can be custom-installed to take up very little space and still operate at peak performance.

The average supply chain system commonly has 20-30 tasks being completed at any one time, making the micro management of each process a logistical challenge. Automated printer-applicator systems can be fitted with an endless array of alerts and notifications that bring pending disruptions to the attention to the appropriate personal.  These can include notification of tasks almost completed, detection of label jams, label or ribbon stock running low, and the reduction of print quality from blocked or worn print heads.

“The importance of deploying and fully utilising an automated label printer solution is often understated in its true value” says Neil Crump, joint Managing Director of Peacock Bros. “The improvements to a typical supply chain operation are significant and the ROI savings extend long term.”

Application Options
Label application methods vary with each method designed to suit the product type that the label is being applied to.  Using a contactless tamp blow method is ideal for products that can be damaged from contact such as thin cardboard, film wrapped foodstuffs or delicate items.  The wipe on method provides high speed application (less than 1 second per label) and can also wipe a label around the corner of the packaging or when a single label is required to wrap around a product.  Selecting the right label application method is critical to delivering a fast and reliable operation.

Real-Time Interaction
With the use of an IP network, the operation can be completed remotely by a central computer interface, allowing for multiple units to be monitored and controlled by a single operator.  This network intelligence opens the door to sharing tasks that need to be performed.  In cases of label stock running out in one label-printer applicator unit, the software can be programmed to simply have a backup unit print and apply the required labels while the label media is being loaded on the first unit - eliminating productivity disruption and resulting in zero downtime.  The printing of variable data such as sequential numbering, time, date, batch and use by stamps can also be easily managed.

Integrating label-printer applicators into your IMS or ERP system delivers additional control and reporting previously unavailable. Intelligent software can provide real-time data on the quantity and number of products completed, the production speed efficiency, verification of orders completed if the unit is printing and applying labels onto pallets ready for delivery.  This data can be a valuable addition to your inventory management solution, providing more insight to daily operations.

Peacock Bros. have years of experience in the design and installation of label applicator systems for companies across the ANZ region, and are the exclusive distributors for the Weber brand.

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