We didn’t give much thought to the price of gasoline until it reached over $2 dollars a gallon, now we watch the price per gallon daily. The same theory holds true in regards to the power it takes to run equipment on our plant floor, until now. Take heed, power efficiency can save more than just a few pennies! Not all Label Applicators are created equal and the savings when operating a power efficient unit adds up.
True cost of ownership includes the replacement items, maintenance, downtime, and consumables that the project will use to perform the intended job. It also includes the power to run the system, which is usually thought of as “pennies to operate”. The real cost of power adds up quickly, and even though air is free, compressed air is not.
The cost of power as it relates to the national average cost of electricity is around $0.10 per Kilowatt Hour (2008, US Government, Energy Information Administration). The typical cost for generating compressed air is approximately $0.25 per cubic foot/minute and only represents the energy it takes to run a compressor, not the other factors such as maintenance and alike. Using this information, the annual cost to run the equipment can be calculated and compared.
Generally, label applicators are wipe-on units. Looking at various manufacturers, there is a difference in power consumption that is largely based on the technology used. A brushless DC motor is far more efficient than a comparable stepper motor-based unit. There is over $500 of savings to be had annually when comparing the annual cost of running a motor with a power requirement of 1.5A@115VAC versus 5A@115VAC or above.
Most printer applicator systems are “tamp” or “air-tamp” and require compressed air. The label dispenses from the printer off the label carrier and is positioned onto a vacuumed surface that holds the label in place until it is applied to the substrate. Making efficient use of the vacuum bore size of the cylinder, and using a higher quality of pneumatic components, some manufacturers are able to use less CFM than most others. An average cost savings of over $600 was confirmed when comparing printer applicators using 2.5 CFM verses 5 CFM.
Looking at the cost of ownership in terms of power reveals that pennies do add up, and the manufacturer using a brushless DC motor offers its customers continued savings throughout the life of the unit. For more information on power efficiency and Automated Labeling Products visit www.diagraph.com or call 1-800-722-1125.
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A look at how power efficiency impacts total cost of ownership in automated labeling systems
By Steve Dods, Automated Labeling Products (ALP) and Thermal Transfer Overprinter (TTO) Products Manager
There is a great debate in the packaging technology industry around the core driver of automated labeling equipment. Which is a superior labeling power source — pneumatic air or electric? Pneumatic labeling systems are built around timing-based commands that drive label movements based 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 that 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, 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 servomotors 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 more than 120 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.
Diagraph’s E-Series labelers are considered the simplest, most reliable all-electric labeling solutions in the industry today thanks to years of continuous improvement and innovation. Our entire line up of Diagraph E-Series print and apply and automated label applicator systems build upon the durability of the proven Diagraph Platinum Series design, yet incorporate key electronic enhancements that allow it to perform more consistently and reliably over time. The result? A simpler, more reliable labeler that can do everything a pneumatic system can do, only better.
It’s all in the design:
The high velocity vacuum fan offers greater reliability than pneumatic air
Our high velocity vacuum fan design allows for full surface area control of the label across the entirety of the pad, achieving a uniform label transfer from pad to product. This consistently performs better than pneumatic designs that feature just a few pneumatic vacuum hole locations on the pad. Diagraph’s high velocity vacuum fan design eliminates the easily clogged small orifices found with pneumatic systems, allowing our labelers to perform more reliably in dusty environments.
The electronically controlled actuator arm movement guarantees precision label placement over time, every time
Our electronically controlled actuator arm allows you to digitally set the application speed to ensure repeatable and reliable operation. Thanks to Diagraph’s all-electric SERVO motor driven design, you are no longer at the mercy of the questionable consistency and reliability of your plant air. Our electronic controls eliminate the need for manual adjustments to address system age and wear.
The color touchscreen display puts more of the information you need right at your fingertips
The E-Series user interface features a larger display that enables you to view more system settings and system health information all at once. This larger, simplified display allows for fewer menus and less toggling between screens. You can now get to the system settings you need with fewer touches.
These are just a few of the many advantages of our E-Series labeling solutions. Contact us today to learn more about how trading up to our E-Series labelers can help save you time, money and the hassle of mislabeled products, cases, traypacks and pallets.
Simple enough…I just want to mark the outside of my box. Looking for marking and coding equipment for a production line and haven’t a clue where to start? Now, ask yourself, where do I start, and the search begins.
A big mistake most Original Equipment Manufactures (OEM) make is that they assume the customer/buyer looking to purchase equipment: know the industry, know the technical jargon and acronyms, and know what their options are. We can’t clarify every equipment dilemma; however we can simplify the process when it comes to large character marking and coding solutions.
Let’s start with the basics, what’s being printed, marked or coded and what’s it being printed on? Large Character Printing is defined by character heights typically falling between ¼” to 4”. There are basically two large character ink jet technologies; Integrated Valve (I.V.), also known as Drop on Demand (DOD) and Impulse Jet (I.J.), also known as Piezoelectric High Resolution or Trident technology. The industrial marking and coding industry uses the term “inkjet technology” as a description when one deposits ink directly on substrates.
Companies with production lines and a high volume of product moving through it will find their marking and coding solution in Integrated Valve (I.V.) series of print heads. Integrated Valve (I.V.) is a low resolution technology that precisely controls ink flow via powerful solenoids to a print head that perfectly forms ink drops, resulting in sharp, clean characters ranging from ½” to 2” in height. Marking at a print speed of over 650 feet per minute most manufacturing environments find that the I.V. system exceeds their minimum speed requirements.
Integrated Valve is ideal for printing text, auto codes (such as product counts, time and date stamps) product identification and simple graphics onto porous (absorbent) and non-porous products as they travel by conveyor past stationary print heads. Some companies place multiple print systems throughout their production facility, marking on the product itself and/or the package it is shipped in.
There are several major advantages with the Integrated Valve print head. Where print mobility is an issue the Integrated Valve print head offers 360 degree orientation, allowing for coding on the top, side and bottom of most substrates. Another advantage with the I.V. print head is the throw distance. Depending on the substrate (what its printing on) the distance away from what is being coded may be limited by size. With the Integrated Valve print head the throw distance is up to ½” accommodating even the bulkiest of product.
Integrated Valve print heads are designed for high-speed printing applications in harsh environments using porous and non-porous inks. Created for the hashes environment, look for an I.V. print head that has an anodized enclosure which is environmentally sealed and a strong stainless steel front plate.
Whereas Integrated Valve is perfect for printing, boxes, containers, and tray packs, it lacks the defined print quality necessary for bar codes and high resolution graphics. When looking for print speed and marking for identification purposes Integrated Valve (I.V.) is the ticket. For high resolution printing, Impulse Jet technology is the way to go.
So how does Integrated Valve work in laymen’s terms? Dots. Yes, a bunch of dots formed together perfectly to create a code that is marked onto your product.
Not all marking and coding applications are alike. High resolution bar codes and company graphics often demand a more precise print quality. Companies looking for an all encompassed print solution that delivers their marking and coding requirements will find Impulse Jet technology their best bet. The Impulse Jet print head delivers the capability of printing high resolution bar codes, product identification, nutritional statements, descriptions, lot codes, and company logos. Impulse Jet technology supplies a voltage pulse to ink via piezoelectric crystals. Combining the voltage pulse with pressure the ink then flows to the print engine and into minuet holes which in turn produces small ink drops that form a code and is marked onto the product. The ink drops appear continuous and smooth with almost no imperfections which make it perfect for graphics. The result is a high resolution image that prints onto a porous surface.
Impulse Jet print head options offer print height ranging from ¾” to 4” from a single print head and is often used in applications where more than one print head is utilized to create multiple messages on the same substrate. Don’t let the definition “large character” classification of the Impulse Jet print solution mislead you. Impulse Jet technology is capable of printing fine print nutritional fact statements and we know how small that print can be. As long as the graphic image does not exceed 4” the details of the image can be very defined.
Whereas the Impulse head provides high resolution print quality, it will not deliver the same print speed as its large character counter part, Integrated Valve. Impulse Jet print heads however will run at over 200 feet per minute and taking into consideration the quality of the print, that’s not too bad. The throw distance is another variance between the two technologies. Due to the definition in print quality the Impulse jet delivers, the head can be no further away then ¼” from the substrate being printed.
A direct cost savings is associated with the Impulse Jet print system. Cost savings can be found in the reduction of pre-printed inventory and shipping cartons. Imagine printing custom shipping cartons just in time, rather then taking up premium warehouse space.
Another key feature to look for when choosing an Impulse Jet print head is an Automatic Cleaning System (ACS). Because of the smaller size of the ink nozzles, keeping them free of dust and debris is important. ACS removes dirt and debris from the face plate offering the added benefit of low maintenance and again saving the company time and money. Look for an ACS feature that allows manual initiation by pushing the purge button or better yet one that can be programmed to run at specified times.
It is more the rule than not that a company will need to mark their products with various style, size and definition and therefore dual technology (using more than one type of print head) is necessary. Look for a manufacturer of marking and coding equipment that has designed an operating system that seamlessly integrates most print head technologies for your solution. This should be a common practice throughout the print industry however it proves to the contrary.
The easiest way to remember what print technology you need for printing onto a box is: when looking for print speed and marking for identification purposes Integrated Valve (I.V.) will be the right choice for you. For high resolution printing, Impulse Jet technology will give you superior graphic perfection. For more information on the print head technology visit www.diagraph.com or call 1-800-526-2531.
Learn More About Large Character Ink Jet
The Art of Automatic Label Dispensing
By Steve Dods, Product Manager
Automated Labeling Products (ALP) and Thermal Transfer Overprinter (TTO)
The Art of Automatic Label Dispensing:
· The amount of release agent (silicone coating) applied to the paper portion of the liner substrate
· The aggressiveness of the adhesive being used for the label, usually determined by the application need
· The angle of the peel blade
· The tension that is developed on the opposing sides of the peel blade
· The addition of an air knife or pressurized flow of air to force a separation between the label and the liner at the peel point
· The depth of the die-cut (the cutting process of forming the label within the continuous adhesive top sheet)
· The age of the materials and storage conditions
When these factors are not within the bounds of system acceptability, the possible results are:
· The label does not separate from the liner at all, and follows the liner over the peel blade. No label is separated. Extreme case.
· The label begins to peel, but the angle of separation changes (due to adhesive aggressiveness/lack of tension/not enough release agent) and the label does not feed out to the designated retaining surface for application
· The label peels out to the retaining surface for automated application, but the trailing edge is still connected to the edge of the liner. Upon application, the label hinges or rotates about this edge, and is ultimately not applied to the product
Two views of labels hinging onto the liner after traversing the peel blade edge. The labels remain attached to the liner.
Problems with the Current Solutions:
· Alternate designs will use an air knife and air pressure to separate the label from the liner. This creates a potential issue of blowing the label off of the tamp pad and into the air, since the amount of pressure is constant and the bond resistance varies from label to label. No label applied to product.
· Alternate designs will allow the label to feed out to the tamp pad, and then use articulation to move away from the peel edge. This results in extra moving parts and more failure points. This method does not solve other aspects of peeling, such as label face stocks with increased friction and drag resistance.
To solve the issues of dispensing labels with the aforementioned attributes, the system was modified to perform a vibrating function by way of the preexisting brushless dc actuator motor. Since the heart of the All-Electric labeling system design is based on a proprietary circuit design and control algorithm, changes could be instituted to allow the surface of the tamp pad (the holding plate for the label prior to application) to vibrate during the feed of the label. The vibration effect is only active after the feed of the label, which breaks the adhesive fiber bonds that would normally be maintained between label and liner without this technology. By vibrating in the low Hertz range, the system can separate labels that would otherwise hinge and cause label jams or cause the label to avoid being applied with adhesive side facing the product. This patented method of ensuring the labels are freed from the liner is known as VibraFeed.
· Automatically separates the label adhesive fiber bonds with the liner without increasing the process time
· Uses inherent components of the system that are normally tasked with the application of the label to the product
· Increases the range of label material quality that can be used for automatic application
At Diagraph, we are dedicated in solving your coding and labeling challenges. Diagraph has been assisting customers for over 120 years improving production line efficiencies with simple, reliable, cost-effective coding and labeling solutions. Contact us to learn more about the Automated Label Applicators product line. Visit us at www.diagraph.com or contact us at 800.722.1125.
When it comes to labels used in packaging, not all are made the same way. Specific environments, like hot and humid, wet or frozen, will require a compatible label material to stay adhered properly to packaging. It is crucial that labels are readable, scannable, and safe to use and dispose of. To meet compliance, labels must remain adhered for consumer and retail-use despite the environmental factors the labeled package has to endure.
Something to be aware of when considering using labeling for product identification in a hot or humid environment is that labels are sensitive to temperature, making facility environment temperature a determining factor in choosing what label material to use on a product.
Some common issues with labels as environmental temperatures rise:
As summer kicks in, and temperatures rise, adhesive related problems will affect the quality of a label -- making it difficult to peel from the labeling machine and to stick to the product. Adhesives, the pre-applied glue specially engineered to perform on pressure sensitive applications, get softer and edges get tackier resulting in labels that are difficult to remove off the original roll. Strong adhesive can make release of these labels from the roll a struggle. Dispensing issues caused by adhesive can disrupt product labeling and lead to damaged labels and jammed applicators.
A label liner is likely to expand or curl with high humidity, causing the adhesive to ooze. This curling liner makes label processing challenging in a printer or label applicator. Also, the ooze from the adhesive can cause printer jams and damage to the printheads.
Even the most pressure-sensitive label adhesives soften as temperatures rise. Hence, storing labels properly can make the difference between a label that survives these changes in weather versus the one that will peel or deteriorate.
Some ideas for storing label rolls properly and protecting them from the heat include:
Many environmental factors must be called into question when assessing the labeling process. Temperature is only one of many considerations to determine how to effectively apply labels to product. Our Diagraph specialists are well-versed in providing site evaluations aimed at determining the best fit application for your labeling operation. Whether the survey is conducted on-site or virtually by answering a series of determining questions, we are here to help you understand your labeling solution options and what it looks like in even the most extreme industrial environments. Reach out to us today to start your evaluation.