Labeler minimizes downtime at bundler

Dairy Crest of Gloucestershire, England, is the first to install a Harland Zeta thermal-print-and-apply labeler from Harland Machine Systems (Manchester, England).

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The firm now has two such labelers on its lines applying bar-code labels to multipacks of its Frijj Milk Shake, an American-style fresh milk shake in 350- and 500-mL high-density polyethylene bottles with full-body shrink-sleeve labels. "No other print-and-apply system could guarantee the consistent precision of label application at such speeds," says Andy Bonehill, milk shake production departmental engineering manager. Each labeler runs at 35 to 40 multipacks/min. Until the Harland machines were installed in January '99, the dairy relied on a print-and-apply machine with a vacuum pick-up pad mounted on a mechanical arm. That arm had to swing in and out to apply labels, and it frequently malfunctioned. Bonehill likes the new labelers because they have no complex mechanical action. Instead, the Harland machines have a spring-loaded beak assembly that suspends labels squarely in the path of the multipacks. As the multipack contacts a label, the label is pulled from its release liner. A wipe-down roller completes application. When a multipack format changes from, for example, six 500-mL bottles to 12 350-mL bottles, the labeler's Zeta software makes it easy for line operators to complete the changeover without help from plant engineers. Date, product code and bar code--used by retailers in order picking and inventory control--are preprogrammed for all format varieties. Operators change label content at a touchscreen panel, says Bonehill.

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