Packaging System Phases - Labeling and Coding

Packaging System Phases - Labeling and Coding

While running containers through rinsing machines may be necessary for many applications and liquid fillers and cappers are used to bottle and secure the product, labeling and coding equipment serves a somewhat different purpose.  Labelers and coders give you the opportunity to present your product to your customer as you would like them to see it.  A label can set a product apart from the competition and provide brand recognition.  Coding equipment allows a packager to include information such as expiration dates, batch numbers and other information.  As your product continues down the conveyor system of your packaging line, labelers and coders offer a unique marketing opportunity.

Labels can make a product stand out both by using a specific label and by how the label is applied.  Labeling machines can wrap a label around a bottle, apply a label to the front and back of a container or even label the tops and bottoms of boxes and containers.  Labeling machines are available as simple label dispensers to assist with hand application of labels, or as semi-automatic and automatic labeling machines for faster production.  

Label dispensers simply present a single label to the person applying labels to the bottle.  This may or may not add a little speed to the labeling process, depending on the labor being used, but has the disadvantage of doing nothing for consistent placement of the label.  Semi-automatic labelers normally require the placement of a single bottle into a labeling nest by the operator of the machine.  Semi-automatic labelers work to add speed to labeling while the nest also provides a means for improving label placement accuracy.  Automatic labeling machines work with a power conveyor to continuously run bottles through the labeling area.  These machines will normally work with an inline packaging system, labeling containers after they have passed through the rinsing machines, filling machines and capping equipment.  Automatic labelers can handle a range of container types and sizes with fairly simple adjustments.  However, a facility applying labels in a number of different formats (wrap, panel, top and bottom, front and back) may require custom labeling machinery.

Coding equipment can be used to place dates, numbers and other information right on the label or, in some cases, directly on the bottle or container.  Coding equipment consists of hot stamp coders, ink jet printers and laser coding equipment.  Hot stamp coders can usually be attached directly to a labeling machine to allow the code to be stamped on each label to be placed on the bottle or other container.  These coders use a heated plate and changeable characters placed into a type holder.  The characters are stamped through a foil tape to imprint the labels with the desired information.

Ink jet printers and laser coders normally provide higher speeds and more print space.  Ink jet coders allow non-contact printing on a wide variety of surfaces, including labels, bottles, cartons and boxes. Laser coders are similar to ink jet printers in that they require no contact, but also use no ink or foil.  These coding machines will allow not only the printing of dates, lot numbers and other information similar to the hot stamp coder, but may also allow the printing of a logo, picture and more detailed information.

Once a product makes it through the labeling and coding process, the packaging is almost complete.  From rinsers to filling machinery, capping machines to labelers, the product and package will continue down the conveyor system prepared to be packed and shipped to the customer.  For more information on labeling and coding equipment, or any packaging machinery, contact a Packaging Specialist toll-free today at 1-888-393-3693.