Automatic application of product labels is a proven time and money-saver for manufacturers. Yet buyers who go with the lowest bid on their label project often find that the cheapest labels have hidden costs that wipe out all apparent savings.
Machine application of labels require labels that are machine ready. Product labels consist of several components as shown in the image below. The label and liner are the obvious visible components. The label, which has an adhesive backing, is attached to the liner.
The liner has a special release coating which allows the label to stick to the liner until it’s ready to be peeled away during the application process.
When it comes to automatic machine labeling, every element in the product label has an impact on how well the application machinery runs.
Here are some of the problems you can encounter when those low-budget labels are put to the test in a real manufacturing environment.
Problems to Avoid with Automatic Product Labeling
► Labels and label liners need to be dimensionally stable. All materials are subject to dimensional changes due to temperature and humidity changes. An unstable liner can curl or change size, resulting in machine jams or stoppages.
► The liner needs to be the correct strength, so it doesn’t snap or tear as it’s feeding through the automatic applicator.
► The liner must be free from defects such as bubbles, wrinkles, tears or small nicks. Small defects can repeatedly stop or jam the label applicator.
► The liner must have a properly formulated release coating so that the adhesive-backed label peels away correctly during application, without tearing the label or liner. A faulty coating can prevent the label from peeling away altogether. A sub-par coating can also remove adhesive from the label, in turn causing problems with adhesion to the product.
► The right label substrate needs to be selected. For example, using a paper label in which the label is exposed to outdoor or harsh conditions means the label will wear out prematurely.
► The right adhesive needs to be used for the label’s end use. Label adhesives can be:
- Permanent (can’t be removed without destroying label)
- Re-positionable (designed to be removed and reapplied many times)
- Removable (for items such as kitchen products or clothing that won’t leave a residue)
- Temperature sensitive for cold application
► Inks, coatings, or laminations must be appropriate for the label’s end use. For example, a fade-resistant ink may be needed for labels exposed to sunlight. A protective lamination might be needed for a label on a chemical product.
The Hidden Costs of Cheap Product Labels
It’s tempting for buyers of product labels to opt for the low bid. Budgetary pressures never go away.
Yet it’s important to consider the risks of purchasing cheap product labels. One bad batch of labels can wipe out a year’s worth of “savings” in any one of several ways.
It takes time to reprint a bad batch of labels. If the label vendor is overseas, there are logistics and shipping delays that can add weeks to delivery times. To add insult to injury, shipping costs have gone through the roof.
Reprints come directly out of net profit.
It takes time to re-label a poorly labeled product. And that’s assuming that the product can be salvaged and re-labelled. If hand work is required, the costs go up even more.
Production line shutdowns
Faulty labels can cause a shutdown or delay on a production line. This has a cascading effect as it starts to affect deadlines on subsequent jobs.
Before you commit to that “good deal” on labels, be sure to ask yourself, “Have I analyzed all the risks?”
There are many inter-dependent factors to consider when designing and buying product labels. We can work with you to cover all the bases and eliminate the risk in your next label purchase decision.
Call Geoffrey Pick at 818-709-1220 or Request a Quote.