At Lorpon Labels, we can first-hand attest to how bottle applicators are a great cost-saving tool that benefit not only us—the labelers, but also you—our clients. While the initial investment into a bottle labeler may seem steep, if you’re looking to invest in one yourself, it pays off (literally) in the reduction of extra labour costs over time. In addition, a labeler’s speed and accuracy are top notch, resulting in up to 1,200 bottles labeled per hour with precise placement. It can also place front and back labels on the same bottle, as well as clear labels, allowing you to achieve that “no-label” look.
But with so many types of labelers on the market, how do you know which one is right for your bottles? At Lorpon, we prefer semi-automatic label applicators over manual or automatic mainly for small to mid-size businesses without a fully automated filling line because of the wide range of applications that semi-automatic dispensers offer. However if there is a high speed filling or packaging line in place it makes sense to explore fully automated systems for speed and efficiency.
Shining a spotlight on semi-automatic label applicators
Generally, semi-automatic applicators are the right choice when volumes are not large, but you still need accurate and professional label placement. Applying a label properly is a key element to the overall look of your packaging. Imagine how a poorly applied label that is crooked with wrinkles or air bubbles would look; it’s bound to reflect negatively on your brand and image. Semi-automatic applicators work best with cylindrical bottles, although our entry-level model can handle bottles with a modest taper to them. There are some semi-automatic systems than can handle flat-side bottles or containers as well.
Semi-auto applicators range in price from under $2,000 for entry-level models, up to over $5,000 for more robust machines with additional features, which is a much lower capital investment versus fully automatic machines. It’s a quick process to change to different label sizes or versions, or change from one bottle size to the next. All this while being operated on a desktop in small spaces where the labeler can be set up and taken down when needed. The whole working process is a simple operation, with easy repair and service. The only limitation being a slower production speed when compared to fully automated systems, but still much faster than manual application.
Fully automated label applicators are great for the right application.
These applicators are best when the volumes get larger or if you are working with different container shapes other than cylindrical bottles. There are many options for fully automated systems: blow on, tamp on, wipe on, corner applications, full wrap, top and bottom, tapered containers, flat containers and more. Fully automated systems can be bought off the shelf, but usually need some customization for your specific application, dependent upon container type, label materials, desired line speeds and changeover times.
Much faster line speeds are available, and the applicator can also be customized to work with different types of pressure-sensitive label materials and liners. They have capacity to handle large rolls of labels, and can be fitted with automated splicing equipment for continuous production. However, compared to their semi-automatic counterparts, fully automated applicators have a much higher initial investment and start-up cost, and a slower changeover for different label versions or packaging sizes. They also need to work in conjunction with an assembly line and/or conveyor system, coupled with the space needed to set up this system.
Which label applicator should you choose?
Personally, we recommend Bottlemate applicators as a starting entry-level point for small businesses looking to get into semi-automatic applicators for the first time. Their machines are capable of labeling tapered bottles (competitive applicators are limited with this feature), and are sold with a full three-year parts and labor limited warranty. We’ve found that competitors don’t offer any such standard warranty; instead it must be purchased for an additional cost, if desired.
Bottlemate units have a feed-roller assembly, rather than relying on elasticity of rubber for feed lock, which causes label material to feed inconsistently left and right. The Bottlemate also has a superior roll holder, preventing the roll from moving around and causing inconsistent labeling. Also, their machines are much more heavy-duty and durable, with a larger roller diameter with longer life. They also offer a liner rewind roll mechanism which keeps your work area neat and all your waste liner contained in a roll.
Our team at Lorpon Labels can help bring out the best in your bottles. Whether you’re looking for pricing, searching for a new packaging partner or just exploring your options, we’re always interested in talking to you. Contact us.