San Benedetto is an Italian manufacturer and distributor of soft drinks, sports beverages, probiotics, and bottled water. While the company was founded in 1956, its heritage dates back to the Renaissance. Established near an artisan well that is still in operation today, the company sources water for its beverages from 1,000 feet below ground to ensure all its original features are unchanged and unadulterated.
The company knows the impact quality ingredients have on the end product. It does not compromise on what goes into each of its products and makes every effort to protect that quality. It also takes the same approach to projecting an image of that quality through its product labeling.
San Benedetto was using a polypropylene-based roll-fed shrink label with a hot melt/UV adhesive seam for bottles of its Batik Succoso juice brand. However, the company wanted to upgrade the look of the product to make it strongly reflect a quality position more in line with the quality of the product itself.
The existing shrink film only allowed up to an 8% shrink ratio, which limited the amount of space the label could cover on the contoured bottle. Coupled with what the company felt were the limited graphics characteristics of the film, San Benedetto thought matching the high-impact shelf appeal of shrink-sleeve labels was unobtainable.
“Roll-fed shrink film allowed us to use a package with a contoured bottle and a label to match,” says Lorenzo Benvegnu, product manager with San Benedetto. “But the low shrink ratio meant we were limited in how high we could place our label on the Batik package. We literally could not go past the moderate shoulder.
“There was a lot of space on the bottle we just couldn’t take advantage of, and we felt we were missing an opportunity. Still, we never gave up pursuing film options that would cost-effectively allow us to match the high impact of sleeves.”
Polyolefin provides needed shrink
Polyphane™ Fit film is a proprietary polyolefin that is machine-direction oriented. This provides high tensile strength properties and excellent on-press stability. The film also does not require refrigerated freight or air-conditioned storage because it has higher shrink initiation temperatures versus conventional sleeve-label materials.
Polyphane Fit, distributed in the U.S. by Avery Dennison, is a product of Polyphane, the consumer packaging division of Israeli film supplier Polysack Plastic Industries Ltd. At the beginning of 2009, San Benedetto relaunched its Batik Succoso juice package with a new roll-fed shrink-film label using Polyphane Fit STS, which has a guaranteed shrink ratio of 50%.
The labels are flexo-printed in eight colors with solvent inks. The film offers a clarity of 98, a haze of 3, and a gloss rating of 135, making it suitable for high-end graphics representation.
“Polyphane Fit combines all the graphics benefits of shrink sleeves with the operating efficiencies and cost-effectiveness of roll-fed shrink labels,” says Laura Clark, marketing director for food and beverage, Avery Dennison. “It’s really the best of each labeling method.
“With a shrink ratio of up to 50 percent, Polyphane Fit allows San Benedetto to take full advantage of the entire Batik bottle, including the neck. The ability to apply the label top to bottom and around the full bottle delivers a significant advantage for improved shelf impact.”
Leveraging operational efficiency
Along with improved shelf appeal, San Benedetto sought an alternative seaming technology for its labels. While a label represents only a fraction of the total cost to package a product, its impact on the consumer is significant. Misplaced labels or split seams undercut the perception of quality. The company wanted to eliminate glue from the labeling process because it was an added consumable and reduced the operating efficiency of the labeler. Glue seams also proved to be less robust and split when heated in the shrink tunnel, resulting in rework.
San Benedetto opted to install an Opera Roll Fed Sleeve Technology (RFST) labeler from Sacmi Labeling that uses laser welding rather than glue to seam the label.
The modular labeling machine allows tubular sleeve labels to be applied starting directly from the film on the roll. The tubular form is created on a series of motor-driven spindles through the use of vacuum technology. The film is unwound by a mechanical system and made to adhere to a perforated cylinder connected to a pneumatic system that generates the vacuum. When the film comes into contact with the cylinder, the resulting vacuum locks it to the surface and holds it firmly for subsequent cutting and sealing.
Sealing takes place on a station housing a laser that gives the label its tubular shape. The sleeve is then positioned on the underlying containers. Following label placement on the container, one or more heat treatment stations execute heat shrinking to complete the process.
The labeling operation is fully integrated with the bottling line and can handle line speeds up to 1,000 bottles/min.
“The laser seaming technology from Sacmi pairs well with the Polyphane Fit material,” says Benvegnu. “It gives us a perfectly secure seam all along the full contour of the bottle for an extremely tight fit without any gaps.
“I believe this was the first commercial launch of Sacmi’s RFST using a laser seam. The technology was new and untested. Polysack, the converters, and San Benedetto worked together over a six-month period, proving the technology, working through minor challenges to bring application to commercialization.”
While San Benedetto realized a cost savings by eliminating glue as a consumable and the related extra work associated with added time for machine setups and downtime for cleaning, it has also been able to reduce its energy consumption. The previous roll-fed shrink film required a hot air tunnel temperature of 600º F to shrink just 8%. The Polyphane Fit STS allows the company to use its existing steam generator at just 200º F.
“Many other shrink films and sleeves were considered for this application, Polyphane Fit STS was selected for its superior printing, labeling, welding, and shrink performance,” says Hubert Mignolet, sales and marketing manager with Polysack. “Polyphane Fit films are unique in that they perform more like shrink sleeves than traditional roll-fed shrink. We only had to adjust the graphics slightly to take advantage of the higher shrink ratio and enlarged display area.”