Labelling and coding, market news and trends

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Image of packaged meat with woman hand in the supermarket
Image of packaged meat with woman hand in the supermarket

Functional labels, more flexible and automatic machines, fast-drying inks and permanent inks. All this always with an eye to the environment. Anti-counterfeiting systems that ensure product traceability are highly sought after.

New technologies and products offered by firms dealing with labelling and coding go hand in hand with market needs. This means: more self adhesive and shrink labels, which perfectly adhere to any kind of pack; improved efficiency of processing cycles, consisting in higher application rate, improved reliability, and reduction of consumption and waste; attention to the environment; intelligent labels and NCF-labels (Near-Field Communication). In short: labels featuring improved performance. Developments involving labels cannot ignore the key contribution of machines, showing increasing flexibility and automation. Just like new high-adhesion inks for difficult carriers, MEK-free fast-curing inks and permanent inks. Labels, however, have to defend themselves against their competitors, i.e. 3D-printing and direct-to-package printing, especially flexible packages.

Flexibility, application rate, and reliability. Long life to machines
Labelling machines must be flexible, capable of handling dozens of different formats, ensuring high production rates. Examples of this are automatic rotary labelling machines, featuring interchangeable labelling modules for self adhesive labels, cold glue labels, or mixed stations. Or sleeving machines, which can apply shrink sleeves on containers of any material, shape and size. Or again, linear self-adhesive labellers featuring self-adhesive stations with adjustment of axis, height and width, motorized and electronically controlled via the LCD keyboard of the adhesive station, thanks to the motors directly installed on the axis. Furthermore, format change-over can be automatically adjusted directly from the HMI panel. Another trend consists in reducing machine overall dimensions and increasing their reliability without affecting peformances and costs, thanks to modular units designed for easy assembly. Taking up the least amount of space possible, these units can be easily installed on packaging lines, even existing ones. These modular machines perfectly suit future production needs, as the existing layout can be changed simply by adding new units. These marking systems, in fact, have ready solutions for a basic coding, but they can be integrated with new solutions at different times, when even the most reluctant firms can be convinced to target their investments in functions they do not need immediately. Reliability, low operational and maintenance costs, characterise the new coding systems. New ink markers are designed to guarantee years of continuous operation and a consistent reduction (even by 15-20%) of additive consumption. The substitution is fast and practical, and can be carried out directly by the operator. Many machines feature a built-in vision system, allowing the quick ejection of non-compliant labels without stopping the line. The software-controlled system also enables to store errors and re-print unsuitable labels.