Getting shipments and inventory into retail distribution and onto store shelves efficiently is a key to profitability for any manufacturer, especially when you ship high volumes of products to big‐box retailers. Since all big‐box operators have rigid requirements for shipments coming into their distribution centers and stores, it’s critical to ensure pallets and cartons are labeled precisely. Get it right and inventory will almost always sail through without a hitch. Make a mistake however, and you’ll likely see delays, rejected deliveries, extra charges and costly rework to get your products on store shelves.
The first step to preparing shipments to big‐box stores is understanding their labeling requirements. While many retailers use certain common elements and regulatory requirements may apply to labeling standards within certain product categories, no single set of pallet labeling standards applies to all industries. Each big‐box retailer establishes detailed requirements for their receiving operations.
The first thing shipping teams should do is obtain the labeling guidelines for each big‐box retailer — never assume that what’s acceptable for one will work for another. Each big‐box store will have specific requirements for everything from what goes on each label to how many labels are required to exactly where labels should be applied. For example, Walmart’s supply chain packaging guide, which runs several hundred pages, includes multiple pages of instructions and requirements just for pallet labeling.
DEPLOY A LABELING SOLUTION
Once you understand the requirements, your next step is to deploy a labeling solution that will keep you in compliance while keeping pace with shipments moving through your packaging and shipping workflows. For high‐volume operations, an automated print‐and‐apply labeling machine is an ideal solution that can be customized to your business.
With an automated print‐and‐apply labeling solution, you’ll eliminate potential slowdowns and errors associated with manual systems. Plus, you’ll take workers out of production areas where labels are applied, minimizing the potential for costly injuries and accidents.
Keep in mind that all print‐and‐apply solutions aren’t created equal. You need a solution that can keep pace with your operations while delivering the flexibility required to address the varying requirements of different big‐box distribution centers and — perhaps most importantly — ensure reliable performance day after day, shift after shift.
ALL‐ELECTRIC PRINT & APPLY LABELING MACHINE
At Diagraph, a key component of our all‐electric PA7100 print‐and‐apply labeling machine is the Zebra ZE500 Series OEM thermal printer engine. We know from experience that we can count on Zebra printer engines to deliver industry‐leading print performance and durability for 4‐ and 6‐inch carton and pallet labels in your print‐and‐apply solutions. They feature durable, all‐metal construction for long‐lasting durability and deliver print speeds that can match the throughput of high‐volume production lines. Plus, they’re easy to set up, manage and maintain onsite or remotely to help schedule maintenance and prevent unexpected interruptions.
With an all‐electric Diagraph PA7100 print‐and‐apply labeling machine using a Zebra OEM print engine, you’ll have a pallet and case labeling system that can help you maximize performance, compliance and profitability. To learn more, contact your Diagraph representative.
There is a debate in the packaging technology industry on which is a superior labeling power source for automated labeling equipment — pneumatic air or electric? Pneumatic labeling systems are built around timing-based commands that drive label movements depending on the reliability of the pneumatic air supply, while all-electric labeling systems are built around real time data-based commands that allow for total control of the labeling process.
The difference between the two approaches is night and day — like the difference between VHS and high-resolution digital streaming technology. The more manufacturers understand the advantages of all-electric labeling, the more pneumatic systems will go the way of VHS tapes and rotary phones.
Every labeling system, regardless of core technology, can incorporate sensors for feedback. Recall the times you have seen a product strike a pneumatic labeler’s actuator arm while moving down the packaging line. This happens all too often with pneumatic labelers because the control of the label feed and actuator arm is not reacting to real-time feedback from sensors. Instead it is following pre-programmed timing commands and relying on the programmed settings for the pneumatic air supply (regardless of the actual pressure in real-time).
Free from the timing control constraints found in pneumatic air powered machines, Diagraph’s all-electric labeling systems can interpret feedback from smart sensors in real-time to allow for total control of the label throughout transit. Combining strategically placed sensors with brushless DC servo motors allows Diagraph’s labeling systems to operate with extreme precision, guaranteeing one-to-one label-to-product matching time after time. The all-electric, servo-driven actuator maintains speed consistency, while “smart” sensors confirm that a label is present for application, and even provide the ability to control impact on the product being labeled. The system doesn’t have to rely on inconsistent air pressure to manage this process.
Another advantage of the all-electric method over the pneumatic air method centers around the tamp pad. Pneumatic driven label applicators utilize venturi vacuum technology to control the transit of the label from the tamp pad to the product. Nearly the entire surface of a pneumatic machine’s tamp pad needs to be covered by the label to maintain proper suction. Unlike pneumatic machines, Diagraph’s all-electric label applicators utilize an electric fan to create vacuum, allowing Diagraph labelers to accommodate multiple label sizes utilizing a single tamp pad. This saves time during label size changeovers as well as money.
With 130 years in the marking and coding industry, Diagraph has a rich history of providing highly durable and reliable labeling and inkjet solutions. Diagraph was the first to offer all-electric labeling solutions to handle all modes of label application including tamp, swing and tamp-blow. The result is a robust lineup of automated labeling solutions that offer benefits only found in all-electric systems that don’t compromise on labels sizes or performance.
Click here for a comparison of all-electric and pneumatic labeling systems.
No longer is it the case that snacks are packaged specifically for children’s lunch boxes. Today, the snack market is heavily geared towards adults with 94% of adults snacking at least once a day and 50% snacking 2 to 3 times a day.* Snack producers are tasked with changing traditional packaging to address a different kind of consumer.
To stay on top of fluctuating snack market trends, food companies find they need to develop new packaging such as single-serve packs, convenient on-the-go solutions, and sustainable “green” packaging. Aside from creating a trendy and appealing packaging aesthetic, snack packaging frequently requires variable codes such as “Best By” or expiration dates. With consumers growing more and more health-conscious, some code requirements include allergen information, genetic modification information, and country of origin.
Many snack food companies make use of continuous ink jet (CIJ) printing technology to meet these coding requirements. CIJ is cost- effective and has a wide range of fluids to ensure coding adhesion and legibility on both porous and non-porous packaging like cardboard, plastics, metal, glass, or flexible packaging. At a minimum, your CIJ equipment must be able to produce legible and durable date, lot, and identification codes on a variety of substrates. However, there are other key features to look for when selecting a continuous ink jet printer to keep your snack packaging operations in uptime by minimizing maintenance and human errors including:
Given the wide variety of packages and product types at snack food manufacturers, the flexibility offered by CIJ is also considered an appealing benefit. Leading systems’ printheads can be used in any orientation with 360 degree printhead positioning and many can be moved from line to line to accommodate many shapes, sizes, and levels of packaging.
Diagraph offers the Linx 8900 Series CIJ printers to help our customers produce a long lasting, quality mark on a variety of packaging materials. The 8900 Series is designed with many smart, easy-to-use features to keep your production line up and running. Live chat with one of our equipment specialists to learn more. Or, read up on the latest innovations in snack food packaging in our latest whitepaper.
2018: Innovations in Snack Food Packaging
Did you know there were 80 GMO labeling bills introduced in 20 states in 2015? On July 1, 2016 the first GMO labeling law will go into effect in Vermont. The Vermont law requires raw agricultural commodity and processed food producers who sell food products in or into the state of Vermont to mark the lowest saleable unit of food packaging with a disclaimer that clearly and conspicuously reads “produced with genetic engineering.”
Although the labeling message requirement is clear, the law does not specify exactly how manufacturers need to apply the mark to the packaging container. Determining how to apply the mark is entirely up to the manufacturer’s discretion.
Moving forward, food producers need to keep a keen eye on the changing regulations regarding labeling of food products containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Unless or until there is a federal law regarding labeling, individual states make the rules on whether or not products sold in their state need to have labeling that includes warnings such as “Partially Produced with Genetic Engineering”. Companies need to decide whether to change their formulations to eliminate GMOs, adjust the geographical markets they sell into, or modify their labeling to meet individual state requirements. The path of least resistance and expense will usually be to change the labeling.
If your product has regional or national distribution, how do you manage specific variable information for sales to a specific state? Diagraph provides a solution with its Linx 8900 Series Continuous Inkjet (CIJ) printers.
If you can use the same GMO call out to cover the requirements of all the regions you sell into, then you can create, store, and easily select the GMO message to be printed onto your product. If different GMO messages are required, you can choose to print all of the necessary GMO messages on each package or easily create different messages and select the appropriate one for a specific manufacturing run. Regardless of the flexibility you need and the type of packaging material you are marking on, the Linx 8900 Series has you covered.
The 8900 family of CIJ printers is capable of printing between one to five lines of text, logos, and barcodes, and is designed for maximum efficiency and minimal effort. The stainless steel cabinet boasts a minimum IP55 rating, which makes it suitable for a wash-down environment. The 8900 Series printers are designed to run reliably and feature the ability to program 4 to 50 production line settings and up to 1,000 unique messages to enable quick and painless change overs and message updates.
With easy change overs and high quality, high speed print, companies can easily add any required GMO text to existing packaging using Linx CIJ.
Although CIJ technology is ideal for meeting nearly every GMO labeling need, there are a variety of technologies available to you to stay in compliance with the law. All-electric label applicators and thermal inkjet printers may be good alternatives depending on your operation. Contact us today for a free consultation to determine which technology is best suited to meet your unique needs: 800-722-1125 or email info @ diagraph.com.
Many factors determine the profitability and performance of a manufacturing operation. For example, every experienced manager knows the importance of understanding and controlling the cost of raw materials, labor costs, capacity utilization and quality assurance to maximize bottom line results.
As manufacturers hone the efficiency of their operations, however, they also know the importance of looking beyond the obvious variables to evaluate and improve the performance of less apparent workflows. These processes may seem secondary to core production activities on the surface but they will have an outsized impact on results if they can’t keep pace with operations. One of the less apparent workflows that efficiency‐minded managers should focus on occurs right at the end of operations: pallet labeling.
High‐volume manufacturing operations that ship products to a variety of distribution channels simply can’t afford a slowdown in production caused by breakdowns, errors or low capacity in labeling systems as pallets are prepared for distribution.
The answer for most manufacturers to supporting increased productivity is an automated print‐and‐apply labeling machine that eliminates the productivity limitations of manual processes and streamlines labeling workflows. The production rates of automated print‐and‐apply labeling machines vary depending on the labeling method used and the number of application points, but a standard tamp system should be able to label 120 products per minute.
Automated print‐and‐apply labeling machines also deliver quality control benefits because human error is largely eliminated from the equation. Instead of inconsistent label placement that can slow shipments or even result in a customer rejecting a pallet, an automated labeling system helps ensure every pallet is labeled in compliance with customer requirements and expectations.
WHAT IS THE BEST WAY TO AUTOMATE PALLET LABELING?
While some labeling machines rely on pneumatic systems to apply labels, maintaining highly consistent PSI in compressed air systems is challenging for manufacturing plants. These challenges can lead to inconsistent performance and difficulty troubleshooting problems.
The better alternative is the Diagraph PA7100 all‐electric print‐and‐apply machine which offers reliability and performance that can’t be matched by traditional pneumatic‐based labelers.
The Diagraph PA7100 all‐electric labeling machine relies on industry‐leading technology to reliably print and apply labels in a variety of applications including the top, sides, bottom or corners of pallets. These solutions are fully customizable to apply self‐adhesive labels at varying heights, distances and speeds. The all‐electric design eliminates the potential inconsistencies of pneumatic alternatives—producing consistent results no matter how many units move through production.
A key to the performance of Diagraph’s all‐electric print‐and‐apply labeling machines is the usage of industry‐leading Zebra OEM thermal print engines. Zebra is a leader when it comes to 4‐ and 6‐inch thermal labels, using all‐metal construction for long‐lasting durability and delivering print speeds that allow our print‐and‐apply labeling machines to keep pace with high‐volume production lines.
For 130 years, Diagraph has been helping manufacturers make the perfect mark, pairing technology and service to deliver complete solutions. To learn more about our automated all‐electric print‐and‐apply labeling machines for pallet labeling, contact your Diagraph representative.
When it comes to contract packaging, companies are increasingly looking to consolidate their code printing requirements. Using multiple devices to print onto different sized containers and different material types is costly and inefficient. Companies now need to offer a full-service solution to be relevant and competitive.
Coding requirements may differ between the primary and secondary packaging. These requirements include printing on different substrates such as plastic, cardboard and metal. Traceability requirements such as visible, permanent codes to manage product recalls may not differ, but code sizes will likely be different. You could be wasting time and money if you are using multiple printers to achieve these requirements.
Contract packagers also need to support packaging trends such as new substrates, packaging product shapes and sizes and environmental initiatives such as reducing materials. For example, packaging a product that offers single serving portions as well as the standard size portions requires a coder which can print the same information on different packaging shapes and sizes. The information must be accurate, legible and permanent to ensure traceability—it’s no use if a code can be smudged or wiped off a particular substrate.
Many contract packaging companies are introducing manufacturing techniques to cut costs and improve competitiveness. By implementing the right printing technology into your contract packaging business, you can significantly cut costs, remain competitive and offer more to your customers.
You can significantly cut costs in the following areas with a single printing solution:
Diagraph’s Linx continuous inkjet printers (CIJ), thermal inkjet, large character printers, laser coders and thermal transfer overprinters can print information such as text, dates, barcodes and logos on a wide range of porous and non-porous substrates. This enables both primary and secondary coding with easy-to-use, easy-to-maintain printers, making your contract packaging operation more efficient and cost effective.
Find out how Diagraph can help you expand your contract packing capabilities by contacting us.
Download the full whitepaper, “Pallet Labeling: The Final Step In Your Production Tracking Process”
The final step in your production process can often easily be overlooked. After rigorously completing all the upstream processing, packaging and coding processes, the final palletized product seems to be a small step before crossing the finish line. However, labeling at the pallet level is a crucial process for identifying palletized products being shipped to retailers.
Imagine this: You’re completing a custom job for products specific to one regional retail chain. To differentiate the pallets for the custom job from your standard products, you plan on printing the identifying batch information on the license plate label and applying it to the outside of the shrink-wrapped pallet. When the time comes, your shipment is sent to the retailer only to discover that the products sent are not the custom printed containers they ordered. Now not only is your relationship with this retailer tarnished, but you are on the hook for reprinting all of their products at your own cost.
This scenario might sound familiar if you’re still in the business of manually applying labels. Some level of human error is always a risk and it can be a costly one. Ensuring a consistent, accurate label on every pallet that leaves your facility doesn’t have to be a trying task. It is possible to guarantee proper label placement while also avoiding common safety issues often occurring from the entanglement of the labeler in the pallet shrink wrap.
Our pallet labeling experts at Diagraph have complied a helpful guide for assessing automated pallet labelers for your production line. This guide steps through the main questions you should ask when evaluating your pallet labeling automation process and reviews the top areas of consideration you should work through before you make any kind of investment.
Download the full whitepaper, “Pallet Labeling: The Final Step In Your Production Tracking Process”, here to learn more.