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Automated Labeling Process Eliminates Manual Intervention | Manufacturing

Custom print-and-apply unit drives true print-on-demand functionality for chemical manufacturer 

CHALLENGE

A manufacturer that produced silicone-based products had installed printers in its plants to print all drum and 5-gallon pail labels offline. Operators had to walk to the label production area to pick up the labels and hand-apply them to the products. Also, they printed a set number of labels daily, resulting in waste some days and shortages on others, as production varied.

Though the system worked, the client wanted to further automate the labeling process and print labels inline. This would enable them to be applied directly to the drum with no manual intervention. The manufacturer also wanted to control the print-and apply-unit from the control room, which would require a software-hardware solution to truly print on demand. 

SOLUTION

RRD designed a custom drum and 5-gallon pail print-and-apply unit with a thermal transfer printer integrated into the design. The unit is controlled by labeling software located on the client’s centralized custom label management system.

In this scenario, the operator controls the unit from the office, places a request for a label, and enters the quantity. The software then  prints and applies the label. The label prints from the thermal transfer printer, advancing to the custom wipe-on applicator via a series of belts. 

When the drum comes in contact with the wipe-on applicator, a label is applied — wrinkle-free. When the customer wants to print 5-gallon pail labels, the motorized application  stand lowers to the appropriate height and applies labels.

RESULTS

Because this customized system allows information to be updated immediately, as needed, the label will always have accurate regulatory data in real-time — essential in the chemical industry.

RRD received an initial test order for one unit. Due to the effectiveness of the system, RRD also received a commitment for five more units.