Label Design: Automation in Production Chain

Kevin Lobo, Food and Beverage Tech Review | Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Digital printing for packaging has become a standard for packaging converters and brand owners in the last decade from a niche application. Innovative marketing and engagement can now become possible, digitally printed packaging can faster market product, enhance customer loyalty and, above all, increase profits. A new paradigm rose in 2017: high-quality packaging using a range of digital print formats, substrates, and inks. However, the challenge was how "conventional" commercial printers could cost-efficiently add this technology to their shops. The industry is undergoing massive changes in the printing and converting for packaging through labels, flexible packaging, plywood boxes, and corrugated boards. All converters need to understand and to be prepared for the major challenges ahead.

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Managing various interfaces between various devices and between Brand Owner, Agency, Printer, and Converter is one of the biggest challenges. The automation will contribute to fully optimizing the operation of the machines and will enable efficient communication between the ordering, the manufacturer and all the others. While printers and converters use a lot of energy to select the most productive machines, the complexity of the whole workflow can sometimes be underestimated. The stability of their cost of inputs of raw materials and the inflation of raw material prices for clients as much as possible is crucial to packaging companies. The decrease in the quantity of material used in the production of packaging has become extremely important for both producers and their customers.

Each manual procedure for changing a label affects the delivery and price of this label adversely. Days go by, and costs increase as designers tweak the composition to suit the language, regional or added characteristics while complying with a stringent label and GHS compliance regulations. A further round of corporate approvals often further delays delivery. All in all, up to two weeks can be spent, increasing the cost per label to around EUR 200-300.

The label producers can streamline the creation-validation-production chain with process automation by streamlining any volume size. If designers transform a labeling design into a case form template, they can edit labels freely in prefixed brand instructions. The genetic design ensures that brand guidelines and industry standards are maintained and that the label is complied with, but also makes the necessary changes possible.

The necessity of standardization and quality control in many industries is growing in the world every day. Technology drives the printing and packaging industries; it creates foreign forces which infiltrate and shift business models. Companies must change their methods of working and should have processes to standardize and to control.

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