To mark FachPack, which this year has put the focus on “Labelling & Marking”, we spoke to Volker Gerloff, CEO of MULTIVAC Marking & Inspection, about the most important trends in the sector.
Mr Gerloff, which products are typically labelled with your labelling solutions?
Volker Gerloff: Our customers are mainly in the food industry. Our systems label meat and sausage products, as well as cheese, fish, confectionery and convenience products. These include the labelling of packs, which are not produced on MULTIVAC packaging machines, such as tubs, bottles or boxes for secondary packaging.
Our customers also include companies in the medical and pharmaceutical industries. We see high growth potential in this sector for technically sophisticated labelling, marking and inspection solutions.
In your opinion, what has been the most important labelling and marking solutions?
Volker Gerloff: Two crucial developments in my opinion are firstly labelling without downtime within the packaging procedure, and secondly the application of detailed product information on the pack. Customers also demand a high level of flexibility in the labelling and marking of small batches. These trends are particularly evident in our core market of the food industry.
The packaging procedure can be optimised through labelling without downtime. The output volume is increased and costs are reduced at the same time. The packaging line does not have to be stopped during label roll changes or when a printer’s consumable materials, such as ink ribbon or ink, are replaced.
How can labelling or marking without downtime be achieved?
Volker Gerloff: This is possible by means of redundant labelling solutions, i.e. we install several labellers or printers on a packaging machine, or we install a conveyor belt labeller with several label dispensers downstream from a packaging machine. This means the consumable materials can be replaced on one label dispenser, while production continues on the other dispenser without interruption.
What requirements are there with regard to detailed product information?
Volker Gerloff: This is a question firstly of statutory requirements for consumer protection, and secondly of information about the product and manufacturer. Due to the Food Information Regulation, which has been in force since December 2014, the information content on labels and other types of marking has again increased significantly, e.g. with details about the country of origin of the food or about allergy information. Nutritional value labelling, which has been voluntary up to now, will become obligatory for food in the EU from December 2016. Packs will then have to be labelled with information about caloric value, fat, saturated fatty acids, carbohydrates, sugar, protein and salt.
Another trend is the use of QR codes or data matrix codes, behind which a web address is concealed that can be scanned with a smartphone and delivers additional information about a product.
APPLICATORS FOR LABEL DISPENSERS
MULTIVAC label dispensers can be equipped with various applicators, allowing the widest range of product shapes and types to be labelled reliably and accurately. The applicators ensure labels are transferred precisely and pressed on securely.
Fixed dispensing edge
The fixed dispensing edge even applies labels in slight depressions and presses them on securely using a brush.
Movable dispensing edge
The movable dispensing edge compensates for any slight height differences in the products and presses the label on securely with a press-on roller.
Angled dispensing edge
The angled dispensing edge applies labels to the leading side of products and presses them over the front edge onto the top face.
Mechanical dispensing edge
The mechanically actuated dispensing edge is suitable for products with large height differences.
The pneumatic applicator ensures accurate labelling in intermittent systems.
The wrap-around applicator places labels on cylindrical products in intermittent systems.
The blow-on applicator blows the labels onto the product without contact in a longitudinal or lateral direction.
The roll-on belt rolls labels onto cylindrical products as they pass by.
What is MULTIVAC Marking & Inspection engaged in at the moment?
Volker Gerloff: We have developed solutions for the market requirements described above, and we are continuing to expand our product range. We are particularly busy at present with the issue of quality control during labelling, for example the data printed on a label or pack. We have various scanner solutions available, which extend from checking the presence of a label right through to checking
This enables products, which are marked incorrectly or not at all, to be separated out or ejected. We are also working constantly on innovations so that we are prepared for future market developments.
What are the latest innovations from your company?
Volker Gerloff: Our latest developments include a new generation of label dispensers, which was launched onto the market in 2014. On the basis of this new generation of dispensers, our series of conveyor belt labellers has already been completely re-engineered. A particular feature of this is the L 300 BASELINE, which as an entrylevel model has completed our portfolio in this sector.
Our new inline labellers have been available since the beginning of 2015, similarly, we have re-engineered these and equipped them with the new label dispensers.
What do you see as the greatest challenges for suppliers of labelling and marking solutions in the next five years?
Volker Gerloff: Large international customers already demand complete solutions. This trend will increase in future. Labelling and marking technology, i.e. labelling machines and printing systems, as well as the associated inspection systems, will have to come from one source.
Ideally the entire packaging line with integrated labelling and marking technology will be purchased from one manufacturer. This enables intelligent communication among all the machines to be achieved.
Other aspects are preventative machine maintenance and the delivery of wearing parts and consumable materials when required. We already know the solution from everyday office life, namely that not only is the remaining time or quantity of the printer’s ink cassette displayed, but also that an automatic order to the supplier is triggered at the right time.
How is MULTIVAC Marking & Inspection reacting to this?
Volker Gerloff: We are trying to anticipate all these market requirements. We have expanded our development team and are investing massively in the development of innovative products.
We are planning to be able to present product innovations in future at every large packaging exhibition. As an integral part of the MULTIVAC Group, which offers complete line solutions, we see ourselves with a clear advantage over competitors, who as a single company only offer either labelling technology or inspection systems.