The label application process is not only important for sales, but for appropriate inventory, product information, and uniformity. Label placement and application accuracy begins with the setup and continued maintenance of your label applicator or label printer applicator, and includes product/label detection used, the handling of the product, and more. Taking shortcuts when using automated labeling equipment – specifically wipe or tamp label application – may cause subpar labeling on your products.
Daily Label Printer Applicator Checklist
Keeping up with the daily maintenance of your labeling machine prevents the need for major fixes down the road that could potentially halt production. It’s important to check your labeling system every day before it is used, and continue checking it when you change supplies to make sure things are running smoothly.
Make sure the following key components are in proper working order:
- The label rollers – should be spinning freely, without pause or delay
- The roller brake – should release when feeding a label
- The sensors – you should be receiving a clean, clear signal every time.
Be sure there is no adhesive build-up on your label rollers. An adhesive build-up can cause rollers to stick. We recommend cleaning the print head and platen rollers with isopropyl alcohol with every supply change to prevent adhesive build-up and sticking. Performing daily maintenance tasks can give you the maximum lifespan of your wearable parts.
Issues with Your Label Sensors
One of the most common questions we receive at LabelPack are questions concerning issues with label sensors. Before you assume it must be the sensor that is not working, you may want to consider that it could be a problem with the label itself. Some labels can cause a false trigger with the sensor. If your sensor does not seem to be functioning properly, it is most likely that the label itself is causing the false read. Perform a “dry-run” by running the label or the product through the sensor field by hand. Be on the lookout for any inadvertent bounce of the sensor light detection.
If your sensor is not working appropriately, it may be worth trying a different sensor type.
Proper Label Placement with Automatic Label Applicators
Label placement can be critical for a variety of reasons. For example, label placement can be important for the scanners to detect the label to record product information and inventory. For the most accurate labeling, your label should stop exactly at the end of the peel edge on your label printer applicator, in the same position, every time. The sensor detects the leading edge of the product, and if the label is not placed at the edge of the peel prior to each application, the label sensor may not be properly detecting your label gaps.
Check the speed that your product is moving through the labeling zone. Is it the same speed, consistently? If it is too slow, the label could slide down the product packaging; too fast and your label may wrinkle. The speed of the labeler should match your product speed. Do you have a secondary wipe down method? Try using a roller or brush to make sure the label is properly seated on the product after application.
Handling the Product
The way your automated labeling system handles the product also contributes to accurate label placement with label applicators. Be aware of the way your labeling system is handling the products:
- Are the products presented to the applicator the same way, every time?
- Are they maintaining a consistent speed through the labeling zone?
Belt driven conveyor systems are superior to roller systems for accurate label placement. This is because the belt driven conveyor better grips the product as it moves down the packaging line. It also has more consistent speed control. If you are forced to use a roller conveyor, consider a poly sleeve for your rollers to enhance grip.
Up-to-Date Software and Technology
The fact of the matter is, technology and software is constantly evolving and changing the way we conduct our everyday operations and tasks. If you aren’t up-to-date on the latest tech, you may find yourself running into problems more often than usual. You’ll want to make sure your software and technology processes faster than the application time of the automatic label applicator. Is the label data there and available when the labeling system needs it?
Serial communication is a slower form of communications that may need replaced with technology running on high-speed Ethernet communications. If you are having issues with a slow Ethernet connection, this can be the result of several things, including an overload on the servers or workstations, data corruption, or – in special circumstances – a high rate of collisions.
Get the Best Automatic Label Applicators for Your Production
LabelPack Automation provides top-of-the-line label applicators and label printer applicators that can integrate into any packaging line. Whether you are looking for automatic label applicators or semi-automatic label applicators, LPA has the solution you need. We only offer the latest technology on the market today, we also provide maintenance service programs for our machines to help keep your production line efficient.
Contact an automated labeling system expert at LabelPack Automation today and ask about our labeling solutions.