1. Simpler OEE connectivity and migration toward servos. With the ever- improving price/performance curve of controls technology, it means that labeling equipment can much more easily tie into systems that collect OEE data, rather than exist as an island outside of the OEE system. Also, it means more servo-controlled container handling, resulting in more precise label application.
2. Design for zero downtime. Equipment manufacturers continue to reduce the number of adjustments required during changeover, ensuring repeatability and smooth start-ups. Dual-roll auto-splice capability allows for changeover to a new roll of labels without stopping production. Also look for machines that are designed for serviceability, enabling the easy removal and replacement of wear parts or sub-assemblies for offline repair. On-board diagnostics for wear parts or maintenance is a plus.
3. Expanded-content labeling flexibility. Trends such as sustainability, regulatory labeling requirements, and multi-language marketing are driving an increase in expanded- content labeling, also known as extended-text or foldout labeling, and sometimes eliminating outer cartons. Look for machines that can specifically run booklets as well as single-thickness labels.
4. Serialized coding on labels. The movement to serialized GS1 codes or 2D bar codes is made possible in part by the shrinking size of coding equipment, enabling integration of coding equipment right into a labeling machine.
5. Multiple-technology machines. Manufacturers have begun to offer labelers that are flexible enough to accommodate multiple application technologies on the same machine, such as cut-and-stack, pressure-sensitive, and roll-fed labeling. That builds in future flexibility.
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