Choosing Your Labeling Equipment
This article focuses on self-adhesive label applicators. These are the type of label applicators that typically automatically apply sticky labels to bottles, tubs and/or cartons.
A good start to your search for labeling machines is to identify the benefits you hope to achieve by moving to automated product labeling.
The key benefits to look out for automating you product labeling are:
– Significantly increased production capacity
– Labour Savings on a per unit basis
– Consistency of label application and the product’s shelf appearance – especially important in the pilot launch volumes stage.
With the above benefits in mind it is a good idea to establish the maximum budget you can justify because properly allocating a capital expenditure budget will enable you to maximize the operational benefits that are available when selecting your labeling machine. There are a significant number of Label Machine suppliers ranging from almost unbelievably low cost China options to high end high ticket suppliers in Europe or the US. It’s a good rule of thumb to remember that for the very low cost options you get what you pay for. For the medium to higher end labeling equipment the thinking needs to change from looking for the lowest cost option to looking for the “Best Value” option.
Unmentioned Cost with Operating Labeling Equipment includes:
1.0 Maintenance and Servicing:
Many higher end machine suppliers have significant size service departments and these service departments often report as separate operating units within the machine suppliers company, operating units that have to make a profit. To this end there is often little incentive for these machine suppliers to provide equipment that is intuitive to self-service or to supply parts at a low cost plus margin basis. These suppliers usually charge high call-out fees and hourly rates. On the up side you do get service and can operate with less technical staff or less technical contractors. On the flip-side low end machinery suppliers may not have adequate communications, machine records or service capabilities.
2.0 Product Change-Over:
Lower end machines are more dedicated and may not be able to accommodate for many variations in your product or label requirements. If they can accommodate for product changes the change over time can extend into a many hours long process requiring a great deal of fiddling to get right.
3.0 Staff Acceptance:
Often overlooked, machinery that is not intuitive or looks daunting to operate and service can be a hard sell to your operating staff. This cost can be the most costly one as machinery not properly accepted by staff will not be utilised properly or maintained properly.
The typical price ranges for a two labels (front and back labeling machine) you can expect for labeling machine suppliers would be:
Low End machinery USD 10,000 – 25,000
Medium End machinery USD 30,000 – 75,000
High End machinery USD 60,000 – 150,000
For all but the most basic applications with few to no product change-overs Low End Machinery should be avoided if you have enough budget allocated. For all but the most demanding high speed applications the High End machinery should be avoided.
For most applications, especially where some versatility is required, the medium end label applicators should be considered. When looking at these ranges of equipment do look out for the Best Value Labeling Machine Proposition.