To increase packaging line speed, precision, and output, it's time to move from manual to machines.
Demand is up. More people than ever are looking for delicious and interesting craft beer. If you're going to capitalize on this demand and have a chance at beating the competing beer placed on the same shelf as yours, you need to get more of your products to market faster, and it's gotta look sharp. To do this, it's time to switch from manual to machines to increase speed and precision — this included your packaging line, and even more specifically, your bottle and can labeling.
Relying on employees to perfectly place labels on thousands of cans or bottles isn't a viable long term or cost-efficient strategy. You could outsource to a co-packer, but after punching some numbers, you may have discovered that it makes more sense to invest in equipment to monitor production closely and maintain in-house control. And buying an automatic labeler is ultimately far less expensive than continuing to pay employees to do your labeling. Besides, no human will ever be able to label as fast or as accurately as a machine.
The question of which labeler is right for your operation depends on a variety of factors. Your budget, container dimensions, label requirements, speed, and potential mobility will dictate what kind of labeler you need.
This article will help guide you through four popular beer labelers that we offer at Pack Leader USA. This information should help you decide if one of our machines is best for your needs as you work to hit faster production goals.
#1 - Tabletop Wrap Around Labeler
No doubt you're heard of the KISS method. For those who haven't, it has nothing to do with the music band. Rather, the acronym stands for Keep It Simple, Stupid. We prefer the nicer version, Keep It Super Simple, but the point is the same. Don't overcomplicate things. This is particularly true if you're looking for your first automatic labeler. You need a simple but reliable machine with no unnecessary features. Perhaps you're on a strict budget but still need to increase productivity — a basic labeling machine is a significant step up from manual labeling. You can always upgrade to a more complex machine later, but for now, you just need to KISS. Our ELF-50 Tabletop Wrap Around Labeler is just what you need.
The ELF-50 can accurately and consistently apply wraparound labels to bottles and cans with far greater speed than any employee ever could, and it's small enough to move to various areas of your facility should the need arise. It can be set up for semi-automatic operation where employees feed bottles into the machine and carry them away once the bottles are labeled or set up for fully automatic labeling where bottles are fed and removed by the equipment on either end. Like all Pack Leader USA labeling equipment, the ELF-50 is made from durable 304 stainless steel and aluminum to withstand rust and corrosion, meaning when it's time to upgrade to a larger machine, it won't be because your old one wore out.
#2 - Inline Horizontal Wrap Around Labeler
Suppose you want to add some flair to your bottles with a neck label. You see it being done by many major breweries, making their product look a bit more polished and professional. The problem is that a neck label adds complexity because bottlenecks are usually not perfectly cylindrical, making it a difficult job for equipment not designed to apply such labels. To have an employee apply them by hand would also put your operation right back where it started and, ironically, create a bottleneck in your production line. Thankfully, Pack Leader USA has several labeling machines that can cleanly and quickly add neck labels. There's one in particular that will interest you if you want to add neck labels without purchasing multiple machines.
Pack Leader's PL-501-NL Inline Horizontal Wrap Around Labeler can add a wraparound label to the body of a bottle and a neck label at the same time. The speed of labeling even adjusts to your container's surface to minimize setup time. The built-in touch screen and label sensors let you program for a wide variety of sizes and shapes and, since Pack Leader USA labelers are modular for simple customization, that same touch screen can control expandable features like hot stamp or thermal transfer printers if you want to print labels.
#3 - Front and Back Labeler
Perhaps you want to show off your beer more than your beautifully designed label, and a wraparound label just covers too much of the container. Front and back labels have some advantages over wraparound labels. First, there's generally less material waste, especially with backless labels that make do without the usual paper backing. Then there's the option of having unusual or unique shapes for the labels themselves to mesh with the graphic design nicely. You can even use clear labels for a minimalist look that shows off more of the container or the beer itself.
Our PL-622 Front and Back Labeling Machine can take a massive array of label shapes and apply them neatly and cleanly to a diverse range of container sizes. The missing-label feature shuts down the machine in the event a roll is missing a label, and the auto-detect feature can sense the spacing between labels so they're positioned perfectly when they get applied to your containers. Plus, the height is adjustable for easy pairing with the other machines in your production line.
#4 - Shrink Sleeve Labeler
Let's say you want to go the opposite direction from front and back labels and cover your entire containers with a cool design. Maybe you're using cans and want to feature flashy graphics with no hint of bare aluminum. This is where shrink sleeves become the superior option. Shrink sleeves slide down, and a heating element shrinks the sleeve around the container. The sleeves cover the entire container from top to bottom, leaving plenty of space for logos and branding. They work on just about any size and shape container, and there's no adhesive used in the process. You can also create extra security by having tamper-evident perforations built-in without having to have a separate machine.
Our SL-301 Shrink Sleeve Labeling Machine can label up to 550 containers per minute, far faster than any employee can. The SL-301's out of film detection means never having to check manually, and 30 memory slots mean you can quickly change containers and labels without having to completely set up a production run from scratch every time. To ensure safety, the machine also features an interlock device that shuts the power off the moment the door is opened.
Choosing a Labeling Partner
Our name reflects our drive to lead the pack, not blend into it. Amidst other labeling equipment companies, we stand out by creating the best equipment and offering the best pre and post-purchase experience. For instance, we offer factory acceptance tests (it's OK to call them FAT) so you can see for yourself how the equipment you're considering works. And our education and training are tops. We even have certified technicians who will properly start up your machine and train all your employees to ensure your investment is operating at maximum efficiency.
As you consider our labelers for your craft brew packaging line, we invite you to schedule a free consultation with our labeling experts. They can help you pick the right label equipment based on your goal production rate, existing equipment, and budget.
Pack Leader USA is here to help you move from manual to automatic. It's time to get more out the door faster.