The right labeler will label accurately and consistently, keeping your packaging looking great.
CBD is mainstream now. Many consumers consider it to be another everyday product sandwiched between aspirin and bandages. Forbes declared its permanence in the marketplace, and celebrities endorse CBD companies. Martha Stewart predicts that CBD for pets will be a $10 Billion industry in 2 years. To compete in this growing market, your CBD product packaging can’t look like an afterthought. It has to have the same quality packaging as a stick of lipstick or a tube of toothpaste (which could also contain CBD).
You know you need a new labeler — one that you can trust to slot into a packaging line with a bunch of other machines and perfectly label hundreds of bottles an hour. You’ve no doubt been poring over spec sheets trying to identify the best labeler for you. The only thing is, after all that research, you’re probably overwhelmed with options, experiencing the paradox of choice. What metrics do you look for to pick the right one?
1. Line Fit
Every piece of equipment in your line needs to play well with the machines in front of and behind it. When examining line fit, you need to consider:
- Speed: Can you adjust the output of the labeler? If the equipment feeding the machine is operating too fast, your labeler will get jammed. If the labeler is working more quickly than the machine behind it, then you have a speed bottleneck in your line. You need to be able to set the speed of your labeling machine for your particular needs.
- Compatibility: Can the labeler accept products from the machine behind it and feed them to the next machine with no issues? Your labeler's conveyors or feed ramps need to mate up with the other machines.
- Portability: If you need to remove the machine from the line, can you do this easily? If the machine isn't meant to be moved or has access panels in odd places, you're going to have a difficult time servicing your labeler.
You shouldn't buy equipment that won't work with your line or the machines you already have. However, with that said, some equipment can be tweaked for optimization, making them compatible. Regardless, every machine you have should be examined periodically to be sure they're working optimally within your line.
2. Label Types
Whether you package gummies in pouches, topicals in jars, or oils in drippers, you need the proper type of label for your container.
- Wrap-around: For cylindrical shapes, adhesive wrap-around labels are pressure sensitive and cover the entire circumference.
- Top (and Bottom): For just about any type of container, from pouches to jars to boxes, these machines apply labels only to the top or both the top and bottom.
- Front and Back: Apply to front or front and back of containers. Wrap-around labels give more coverage, but front and back labels can be applied to containers that aren’t cylindrical, such as boxes.
- Shrink Sleeve: A loose plastic sleeve is placed over a container, and a heat tunnel causes the sleeve to shrink. Since there’s no adhesive, shrink sleeves will never fall off because of excess moisture. They can easily be removed for container reuse and block 100% of harmful sunlight that might spoil a CBD product. You can also have built-in tamper-evidence in your shrink sleeve labels, too.
3. Container Dimensions
You may need a labeler that can accept multiple container sizes, from bottle to pouch or tiny to gigantic. For example, Pack Leader USA’s PL-622 Front and Back Labeling Machine can accept containers over a foot tall. But you also want to make sure that your machine can work with the container shapes you’ve chosen, too. Shrink sleeves have grown in popularity in recent years for this very reason since you can apply shrink sleeves to just about any container shape. When considering labeling equipment, investigate specs closely to see if one labeler can work with multiple types, sizes, and shapes of containers. If you need to label boxes and bottles and you’re on a strict budget, it would be beneficial to get one machine that can label both.
If you’ve ever labeled by hand, you know it’s a slow, laborious process with mixed results. Sometimes a label will look like it’s straight, but once that container is set on the shelf next to others, you realize that no two labels are in the same place. Labels that are improperly applied can also fall off. You’ve probably already figured out that label machines can stick labels on faster and neater than any human, but you might not realize just how MUCH quicker and neater.
Someone who’s hand labeling with peak efficiency can probably achieve five labels per minute. A machine can do 20 labels per minute, and the labels are straighter and far less likely to ever come off the container. You can see productivity increase dramatically, with up to 300 products labeled every hour.
Every machine will wear out or break eventually. While this is true, it’s not the whole story. There are ways to fight entropy and keep your production line humming.
- Preventive Maintenance: See if your manufacturer has a preventative maintenance schedule and even kits of commonly worn or broken parts that you can keep on hand. You also want to keep your machines in proper adjustment and alignment.
- Ease of Repair: Check if your staff can solve the labeler’s most common issues before you have to call a repair specialist.
- Responsive Service: If the repair or maintenance issue is out of the scope of you or your staff, find out if your labeler manufacturer offers fast, responsive, expert service.
- Spare Parts: It may seem like a waste of resources, but having a spare parts kit on hand could keep your packaging line running without a hitch, saving you money and eliminating downtime.
6. Ease of Use
If your employees spend more time standing around scratching their heads trying to figure out how to get the labeler to label than actually labeling, you need a new labeler. Label machines should have either simple, straightforward controls, or an intuitive user interface. Many now have touch screens and myriad automatic settings complete with memory for multiple containers and production runs.
Make sure the manufacturer offers training and education for your staff. You should also have access to retraining for new employees who come on board after the machine is already in your production facility.
The problem with finding the perfect labeler is that you need to find the perfect labeler for your budget. It may seem like a huge expense, but here’s the good news:
- You Can Upgrade Later: You can get a small, less expensive labeler now and step up to a larger, faster one when your budget allows.
- There’s Assistance: You might qualify for an R&D Tax Credit, reducing your equipment expenses.
- Profits Will Increase: A machine might cost you some cash now, but employees will spend less time hand labeling, labels will get applied faster and neater, and your brand’s image will improve. The cost of the labeler will be absorbed into your profit margin quickly.
Choosing a Labeling Partner
At Pack Leader USA, we know how to make products look professional with our high-quality, precision-crafted labeling machines. Check out our CBD Manufacturer’s Guide to Cannabidiol Labeling Equipment for expert guidance as you choose an automatic labeler for your label type. You want to speed up your packaging line and make sure your product labels look great every time one’s applied — but you need to have the right labeler in place first. If you’re curious about which labelers are ideal for CBD products, check out our CBD labeling equipment.