An integral part of manufacturing and logistics is labeling, done accurately and well. Efficient labeling helps to ensure a smooth production process. Inefficient labeling can cost precious time and money. Businesses have various options for labeling, but print and apply labeling is efficient, low-cost, and easy to use.

Print and apply labeling allows businesses to create and apply labels directly onto products and shipping packaging. This type of labeling is highly versatile and can carry a wide range of data. Some data options these labels can have include barcodes, text, 2D codes, QR codes, serialization, personalization, addressing, and graphics. These labels are accurate and cost-effective while utilizing cutting-edge technologies.

Print and apply technologies increase efficiency and reduce waste from scrap reruns, labor costs, and human error. Print and apply labeling also helps to keep companies compliant with shipping regulations. Using print and apply labeling allows a business to focus on core requirements and meeting customer service demands.

What Is Print and Apply Labeling?

Print and apply labeling is as simple as it sounds. Businesses create labels that apply directly to products, packages, or pallets. Processes can be semi-automatic labeling to fully automatic, high-speed applications. Once the labels are applied, they provide essential information about the thing to which they are affixed.

Manually printing and applying labels is an unnecessary hassle in the modern age. Machines or third-party automation providers can print, peel, and stick labels and provide the exact services a company needs. There are multiple solutions available, such as automated labeling machines and software, outsourcing to a logistics or printing provider, or having a custom-designed print and apply solution that meets the needs of the specific company.

Businesses that ship or produce specialized products could benefit from customized automated systems. No two businesses are exact replicas of each other, and custom automation makes sense for those who need something more than a cookie-cutter system.

What Kinds of Products Can Be Labeled with Print and Apply Technology?

Theoretically, virtually anything can be labeled because labels are created and applied after the product is created. Different products are made with different materials and require different labeling techniques. Things that are oddly or unevenly shaped will present a challenge to labeling nearly every time, though.

Various companies have specialized needs for their labels. Some require timestamps, serialization information, or other identifying details to distinguish one product from the next. It could be more challenging to find these specialized kinds of labeling. Companies with automated printing and labeling solutions can avoid the hassle and additional expense of locating specialized labels.

Types of Label Printer Applicator Systems

Strategically selecting the right label printing system requires a thorough understanding of the options available and preferences for accuracy, speed, and synchronization. Here are some of the most common label printer applicator approaches that are worth considering.

Tamp Blow Technique

The tamp blow technique is a contactless solution that creates a vacuum to suck and hold the label until it’s ready for application. The tamp moves when something is ready for labeling, and the vacuum stops. The vacuum shutting off creates an overpressure which shoots the label into place. Tamp applicators allow for large distances between product locations and pads.

Tamp blow processes are helpful in various contexts, but they are usually preferred in situations where it’s difficult to synchronize the printing and application process. These solutions are typically versatile because they can accommodate things of varying heights.

Wipe On Technique

The wipe on technique is sometimes called the merge technique because the process involves applying labels directly to products. Many times, the labels are printed as they are applied. Because the labels are printed as they are applied, the speeds of the printing and application processes must be synchronized. If the speeds aren’t synchronized, the labels could be wrinkled or otherwise damaged when they are applied. Even with this knowledge, many companies still choose the wipe on technique because it limits operational expenses — for example, the use of compressed air in the application process.

Blow On Technique

The blow on technique is often considered an alternative to the merge (wipe on) technique. These solutions deliver impressive accuracy levels while accommodating various materials that might need a label. The system uses a burst of air to send the label to its final location. Neither speed-matching nor the angle of the applicator in relation to the product should be a concern.

Benefits of Automated Printing and Applying

Every second is valuable in business, and saving time when printing helps to boost long-term profits. Automated printing streamlines operations, but that is only the start of the benefits. Here are some other advantages of automated print and apply systems.

  • Greater efficiency: Improved efficiency is one of the most obvious advantages of automated printing and applying. Rather than manually peeling and sticking the labels on the products, an automated process works to seamlessly label the products and allow employees to focus on other tasks.
  • Decreased downtime: Manual labeling processes tend to create bottlenecks which causes a domino effect of inefficiency. One slow-down or seemingly insignificant issue can lead to significant amounts of downtime across an entire printing or labeling process.
  • Elimination of human error: Accuracy is just as important as efficiency and uptime. Printing and labeling machines help limit the potential for human error, often present in a manual process. Automated labeling systems promote accurate positioning, which even the most adept employees can struggle with achieving at peak speeds.
  • Compact designs: Many automated printing and applying systems use minimal space to do the job. This leads to flexibility, and nearly any warehouse environment can implement the processes quickly. Corner wrap applicators, for example, can be integrated within surprisingly small spaces.
  • Large label size capacities: Automated print and apply systems can accommodate various label sizes. This allows for a more flexible process and ensures various-sized labels can be placed on products quickly and accurately.
  • Durability: Automated print and apply systems are designed for heavy-duty use. They are built to function for long periods of time after implementation. This accurate functionality means the labels are less likely to be damaged, providing a more impressive investment return.
  • High-speed application: Many leaders recognize the potential benefits of automated printing but overlook the possibility of implementing an automated label application process. With automated processes, printing and applying can become efficient operations that can be streamlined into an overall cost-effective process.

How advantageous automated print and apply processes are depends somewhat on the type of applicator the business chooses. Some systems are more accurate or versatile, while others are better at limiting downtime. All of them can potentially reduce errors and speed up a process that can be time-consuming.

The Takeaway: Gain Efficiency and Accuracy with Print and Apply Solutions

Automated print and apply processes allow businesses to increase efficiency by accurately labeling products, packages, or pallets of items. The labeling process is one that many companies overlook, but that can help to improve efficient functionality overall. Automating this process helps to eliminate the bottleneck caused by manual labeling while decreasing the likelihood of mistakes.