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labeling machines

Maintaining And Troubleshooting Tips for Labeling Machines

Labeling machines play a critical role in the manufacturing and packaging industry, facilitating the efficient application of labels to products. But do you know that every year several machines may get damaged. And that is only because of lack of maintenance. 

That is why, if you are getting one, you must ensure these machines operate at peak performance and have a prolonged lifespan; routine maintenance and effective troubleshooting are essential.

Types of Labeling System

Several packaging equipment companies like Accutek manufacture various labeling machine equipment that can place labels accurately and securely on different types of containers. Three different labeling systems use cutting-edge technology to achieve this industry’s highest accuracy and speed.

1. Hot Melt Glue Labelers

Hot Melt Glue Labelers wrap a paper label around a container after applying thin stripes of melted glue to its back. Cans of paint and soup frequently have labels like this.

2. Pressure Sensitive Labelers

Pressure-sensitive labelers can apply separate labels to the front, rear, and neck of a container, a single wrap-around label to the top and bottom of a container, and the front, back, and neck of a bottle.

Accutek offers a range of pressure-sensitive labelers, from high-speed rotary labelers to affordable desktop units.

3. Sleeve Labelers

Sleeve Labelers place a plastic sleeve label on a container that can be heated to shrink it. The label goes through a heat tunnel and takes on the shape of the container. The tamper-evident seal of a short sleeve dropped over the neck of the container is created. 

Compared to other labeler kinds, sleeve labelers can label up to 200 containers per minute more quickly.

Importance of Routine Maintenance

Routine maintenance is the cornerstone of optimal labeling machine performance. Regular checks and preventive measures enhance the equipment’s longevity and contribute to consistent and reliable labeling operations. Here are some fundamental maintenance practices:

Cleaning and Lubrication

  • Cleanliness is Key

Over time, dust, debris, and adhesive residues can build up and impair the machine’s functionality. Maintain the labeling machine by paying careful attention to the rollers, conveyors, and labeling heads.

  • Lubricate Moving Parts

Ensure all moving components, including bearings and chains, are properly oiled. This lowers the possibility of malfunctions by preventing wear and tear brought on by friction.

Inspection of Wear Parts

  • Replace Worn-out Parts

Inspect worn parts like belts, gears, and drive chains regularly. Replace any components showing signs of wear promptly to prevent unexpected failures.

  • Check Tension Levels

Maintain proper tension in belts and chains to avoid slippage or breakage, which can disrupt the labeling process.

Verification of Alignment

Ensure that labeling heads and sensors are correctly aligned. Misalignment can result in skewed labels or misapplication. Regularly verify optical sensors’ alignment to guarantee accurate label placement.

Software and Firm Updates

Keep labeling machine software and firmware up-to-date. Manufacturers release updates to address bugs, improve functionality, or introduce new features. Regularly check for updates & follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for installations.

Calibration Checks

Calibrate label sensors periodically to maintain accuracy in label detection. Incorrect sensor calibration can lead to issues like double labeling or missed labels during application.

Troubleshooting Tips for Common Labeling Machine Issues

Even with routine maintenance, occasional issues may arise. Effective troubleshooting is essential for minimizing downtime and ensuring efficient label application. Here are troubleshooting tips for common labeling machine problems:

Label Misalignment or Wrinkling

  • Adjust Labeling Head Position

If labels are consistently misaligned or wrinkled, check the positioning of the labeling head. Ensure it is aligned with the product’s surface, and adjust as needed.

  • Examine Label Roll Tension

Incorrect label roll tension can cause misalignment. Check the tension settings and make adjustments accordingly.

Label Jams

  • Inspect Label Path

Label jams often occur due to obstructions in the label path. Inspect the path for any debris or misaligned labels that may impede the smooth movement of labels.

  • Check Roller Conditions 

Worn or damaged rollers can contribute to label jams. Inspect and replace rollers as needed.

Inconsistent Label Application 

  • Evaluate Labeling Speed

Inconsistencies in label application may arise if the labeling speed is too high for the machine to handle. Adjust the speed settings based on the machine’s capabilities.

  • Review Label Placement Sensors

Malfunctioning label placement sensors can lead to inconsistent application. Check and calibrate sensors to ensure accurate label placement.

Adhesive Residue Buildup

Adhesive residue buildup on labeling heads or rollers can impede label adhesion. Regularly clean these components using manufacturer-approved cleaning agents to prevent residue accumulation.

Faulty Sensor Readings

  • Inspect Sensor Alignment

Misalignment or damage to sensors can result in faulty readings. Verify the alignment and condition of sensors and make adjustments or replacements as necessary.

  • Check for Interference

External factors such as ambient light or dust can interfere with sensor readings. Create a controlled environment and ensure sensors are free from obstructions.

Printer Issues for Label Information

  • Verify Printer Settings

You must ensure that printer settings align with label specifications using integrated printing capabilities. Incorrect settings may lead to distorted or misprinted labels. 

  • Monitor Ink and Ribbon Levels

When you run out of ink or ribbon, it can cause printing disruptions. That is why one must regularly check the ink and ribbon levels and replenish the supplies.

Best Practices for Extended Labeling Machine Longevity

  • Operator Training- Providing complete guidance and training for machine operators is essential. A well-trained operator can identify and address issues promptly and minimize the risk of prolonged downtime. 
  • Documentation & Record-keeping- Keep thorough records of all regular maintenance tasks and any troubleshooting you do. The tracking of component replacements, pattern recognition, and maintenance planning are all aided by this documentation.
  • Spare Parts Inventory- Maintain an on-site stock of essential replacement parts. This covers parts like rollers, sensors, and belts that are frequently changed. Easy access to spare parts accelerates the prompt settlement of unforeseen problems.
  • Adherence to Manufacturer Guidelines- Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for upkeep, troubleshooting, and operating parameters to the letter. When advised measures are not followed, wear may accelerate, and unexpected breakdowns may occur.
  • Regular Audits and Inspections- Conduct periodic audits of the labeling process. This includes inspections of label application quality, machine settings, and overall system integrity. Address any anomalies promptly.
  • Environmental Considerations- Maintain a controlled environment conducive to labeling machine operations. Factors like temperature, humidity, and cleanliness significantly affect equipment performance.
  • Continuous Improvement Initiatives- Establish feedback mechanisms where operators can provide insights into potential improvements. Continuous improvement initiatives can lead to enhanced machine efficiency and reliability.

Conclusion 

If you want to ensure optimal performance & longevity of your labeling machine, you should consider effective maintenance and troubleshooting practices. 

When you incorporate routine maintenance, address issues promptly through troubleshooting, and adopt best practices, businesses can minimize downtime, enhance efficiency, and extend the lifespan of these critical pieces of equipment. 

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