Integrated label print and apply process ensures quality of finished product

The label print and apply process is a key stage in the production of a wide range of goods, but it can be a challenge when the product itself is soft or perishable.

Papaya, for instance, is just one fruit that is sometimes supplied in a fresh-cut, unripe serving, to ripen and be consumed later at home.

Researchers writing in the academic journal Food Packaging and Shelf Life looked at how different packaging options affect the longevity of pre-packed papaya.

They found that vacuum-sealed papaya stored under ambient conditions showed signs of decay after three days; air-sealed samples were damaged after six days.

Vacuum-sealed low-density polyethylene pouches performed better; when refrigerated, the papaya in these could reasonably be consumed up to 12 days later.

But labelling systems need to be able to cope with this susceptibility to damage, if the shelf life of fruits and similar soft foods is to be maintained.

That is where an integrated label print and apply process can be valuable, ensuring that the label is clearly affixed during the wrapping process itself, rather than being applied using direct pressure later.

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BBC’s Watchdog calls for more allergen information in industrial labelling

Viewers of the BBC’s Watchdog programme, which started its new series this week, were given an insight into industrial labelling – and particularly the absence of ingredients lists on pots of paint.

In the past, Watchdog has investigated the inclusion of the preservative Methylisothiazolinone (MI) in skincare products, as the ingredient can cause an allergic reaction in some people.

Several skincare producers have since stopped using the ingredient – however, the show has since discovered that MI is also present in many paints, and can cause skin irritations and breathing difficulties in those who are allergic to it, until the paint is fully dry.

The show explained that, while cosmetics companies may be required to list their ingredients, there is no such requirement on industrial labelling of paints.

As such, those allergic to MI are left to phone the paint’s manufacturers and check whether MI is used – and in many cases, are being told to avoid using the paint.

For manufacturers who use MI as an essential preservative ingredient, it may not be possible to remove it from products; however, declaring it on labels may be a worthwhile step to take, in light of the recent publicity given to the issue.

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Which label applicator is best for bottles?

Your choice of label applicator for bottles can be based on lots of different things, from the size and shape of your bottle, to the information you want to appear on your label.

A shrink sleeving machine can shrink a full-bottle label to fit, which might be a better option for containers that do not have a constant diameter along their full height.

Alternatively, a good label applicator should be able to affix your label to a curved surface, without the edges being at risk of peeling off.

Research from Clemson University in the US has taken these two options – full-body and partial-body labelling – and looked at their effects in a retail setting.

The researchers found that partial-body labelling typically sold better than its full-body counterpart.

However, there are of course complex branding and marketing considerations to take into account, which could make it more significant to know which type of labelling attracts the attention of shoppers best in the first place.

In this regard, the researchers found the two types of label perform equally well, based on eye-tracking results.

As such, either gives you an equally good platform on which to build your branding and marketing message, in order to convert that initial attention from the shopper into a sale.

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How label equipment can help you make a sale

Label equipment does more than just add visuals to your packaging – those visuals can also have a direct impact on the type of person who will buy your product, and in a competitive market for fast-moving consumer goods and food items, that can be crucial.

Datamonitor Consumer have published an infographic showing 20 different ways that shoppers make value judgments when in a grocery store, and many relate to the information you display on your labels.

For instance, 89% of people think organic products are too expensive – meaning organics might be better aimed solely at the luxury, affluent end of the market, or given labelling that clearly portrays them as an affordable option rather than an indulgence.

Value-conscious consumers are saving money in their choices of pack size, too – either by buying smaller, to cut the total cost, or buying bigger bulk packs to reduce the price per unit weight.

Label equipment that can adapt to different pack sizes could be a useful differentiating factor for manufacturers keen to trial new ‘catering-size’ or single-serving options to see if the market responds favourably.

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PL-521 label applicator boosts productivity for Wax Lyrical

Cumbria-based candlemakers Wax Lyrical have seen a substantial boost in their productivity after installing a bespoke label applicator supplied by Advanced Dynamics.

The Pack Leader PL-521 horizontal wraparound labelling system is available exclusively in the UK from Advanced Dynamics, and is used by Wax Lyrical to affix the labels to shrink-wrapped dinner candles.

With the candles measuring different heights and diameters, Wax Lyrical needed a bespoke system that offered the flexibility to correctly package each with the minimum of fuss.

After installing the PL-521 label applicator applied to them, the company found their productivity increased considerably, and the line is now labelling 40 candles per minute, with half as many staff as were previously needed.

Andy Kerr, maintenance manager at Wax Lyrical, said: “The PL-521 is very flexible and simple to operate – it was the best piece of equipment we could find.

“We tried other suppliers but no-one came close. The service from Advanced Dynamics is very good and that’s what we really like.”

He added that after developing a “great relationship” with Advanced Dynamics, it is unlikely that Wax Lyrical will look to other suppliers for their future needs.

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Envelope feeders can maximise efficiency of investment in direct marketing

Envelope feeders can help to ensure investments made into direct marketing methods achieve the greatest possible return for the allocated budget.

According to the latest IPA Bellwether report, marketing budgets are rising across the board, with 20.4% more companies reporting an increase in marketing spend than a decrease.

In direct marketing, the net balance between firms increasing their spend and those decreasing is +2.6% – but this disguises the fact that those spending more are typically spending substantially more.

Josette James, chair of the IPA Customer Experience Group, says: “This increase in spend can only be good news for direct agencies and definitely reflects the mood and confidence of clients.

“Of the companies reporting an increase in spend in 2014, those putting spend into direct marketing far exceeded other marketing areas.”

However, for those working on a tight budget, envelope feeders can help to automate the process of printing addresses for postal mail shots.

By working through a stack of envelopes quickly and accurately, good-quality envelope feeders help to reduce the risk of mis-labelled mail, ensuring marketing messages reach their intended recipients intact.

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Wrapping machinery to see double growth in 2014

Wrapping machinery is just one of the niches in the industrial machinery market that will contribute towards twice as much growth in 2014 as in the previous year, according to an IHS Technology report.

Global demand for machines in sectors including packaging, materials handling, machine tools and agriculture will grow by 6.3% in 2014, the analyst forecasts, up from 2.9% in 2013.

For wrapping machinery in particular, food continues to be an important niche, as the ongoing recovery from recession allows consumers to spend more on nutrition and healthy living.

Andrew Robertson, senior analyst for industrial automation at IHS, says: “The improving economic outlook is a key factor in the strong growth of machinery in the coming years.”

“The growing populations and the expanding middle classes in developing countries are generating more disposable income,” he adds.

IHS Technology highlights packaging as one segment likely to see particularly high growth over the next few years.

Lighter packaging and convenient options like ready-to-cook enclosures are already driving investment in new machines.

“Whether for convenience, improved shelf life or better taste, new industrial machines are contributing to the continued growth of the packaging market,” Mr Robertson concludes.

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‘Traffic lights’ food labelling system fails to clear confusion

The ‘traffic lights’ labelling system for manufactured food products was intended to provide more clarity to consumers about the nutritional content of each serving.

For manufacturers adopting the system, it meant investing in labelling machines that could print the colours with the necessary vibrancy, while adding the text with a legible degree of contrast.

But while the food industry made this investment with the best of intentions, it seems many consumers are no wiser when it comes to the health of food products.

Research from the Chartered Institute of Marketing reveals that 76% of shoppers think they understand the traffic lights labelling system – but most do not.

In fact, the majority of those surveyed answered four out of five questions incorrectly when asked about the system.

Thomas Brown, associate director of research and insights at CIM, said: “The traffic light system can be a useful tool for consumers, but our research shows it’s not sufficient as a standalone measure.”

For food manufacturers who invested in new labelling machines to support traffic lights labelling, it might be worth thinking about ways to display nutritional data more clearly – such as ‘whole of pack’ measures rather than the traditional ‘portion size’ and ‘per 100g’ quantities.

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Temperature a key concern for raw meat wrapping machinery

Wrapping machinery used for the packaging of raw meat must be able to complete the process without the meat rising above the statutory maximum temperature.

This is set at 12 Celsius, and an article in the European Food Safety Authority Journal lists wrapping as just one of the six stages that must be completed without the meat becoming too warm.

Some of these stages – such as cutting and boning – may be carried out before the meat is chilled in some circumstances.

But in general, meat must be cut, boned, sliced, diced, wrapped and packaged, all without going above 12 degrees Celsius.

In the article, the authors look at different surface temperatures to determine how they influence bacterial growth – one of the fundamental things wrapping machinery, along with transportation and storage conditions, must try to control at a safe level.

They found that surface temperature “is a more relevant indicator” than core temperature, simply because bacterial growth occurs on the surface of the meat.

Based on their findings, they argue that it could be possible to keep meat at safe levels of bacterial growth, even under conditions that are currently not permitted under European legislation.

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Advanced Dynamics desk top labellers leading the way at Foodex 2014

Foodex, March 24-26, NEC Birmingham, Stand K341

Visitors to this year’s Foodex exhibition in March will get a taste of the revolutionary desk-top jar and bottle labelling equipment which is helping food and drink companies save money and satisfies the demand for informatively labelled and attractively presented products.

We are the sole UK distributor of Pack Leader’s fully-automated labelling systems and will be promoting the cost-effective, entry level ELF-50 and ELF-20 labellers which are ideal for small to mid-sized production runs

Specialist ingredients manufacturers like Orchard Valley Foods and Divine Deli have already taken advantage of these amazingly versatile and highly accurate top face and wraparound labelling systems from Advanced Dynamics, which are suitable for a variety of sectors including bakery, confectionery, sauces, soups and beverages.

Orchard Valley Foods, a supplier of bakery mixes, confections and powder ingredients to food manufacturers, artisan and craft bakers, reported significant improvements in productivity after purchasing an ELF-50 from Advanced Dynamics for a line of own brand, 165g tubs of Secret Ingredients confections and decorations.

Divine Deli, which produces a range of delicious artisan food products such as dips, infused balsamics, olive oil and cake decorations, also purchased an ELF-50 to handle a variety of different-sized jars of its own brand sprinkles for cakes, ice cream and cookies.

Pack Leader’s range of exceptionally accurate and robust machines can be stand alone or integrated into a line for labelling a variety of container sizes, cartons and bottle shapes. Compact, efficient and flexible, the ELF-50 can be moved around production areas and is easily adjustable for a large range of bottles, a flexibility that is making an impact with food producers.

Like the ELF-50, the ELF-20’s aluminium and stainless steel design makes it portable and durable. It has an application range of up to 180mm packs, while the user friendly operating system and microprocessor controls have many added features that can boost production efficiency.

Advanced Dynamics’ managing director, Malcolm Little, said: “The ELFs are cutting-edge label applicators, ideally suited to meet the very demanding labelling standards now expected. We believe this market-leading equipment can help food companies save money, improve productivity and reduce waste.”

He added: “We are thrilled to be demonstrating Pack Leader’s desk top labellers at Foodex. The ELF-50 and ELF-20 are helping transform bottle labelling in this country and the show is an ideal platform to present the exciting benefits these fabulous machines can bring.”

Food manufacturers are becoming increasingly aware of the economic and production benefits that affordable and high quality labelling systems can bring to their operations.

Attendees at the Foodex exhibition looking for total labelling solutions are urged to go to the Advanced Dynamics stand (K341), where they will see for themselves the fantastic advantages that Pack Leader’s highly accurate desk top labelling systems can offer.

Foodex Elf 50 labeller

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