After tunnel pasteurization, bottles will need labels. In addition, all packaging needs batch identification and date (packaging or expiration date).
Types of Labels
Beer label decisions go well beyond the graphics. The material, the finish, the cut, the adhesive, and the adhesion method all need to be considered for utility, looks, and cost.
Cut and Stack
Cut and stack labels are labels printed on large sheet or rolls. Then, once removed from the printing press, stacks of the label sheets are cut into the correct shape, sometimes using pre-made die cuts, and stacked. Cut and stack labels are versatile, with an entire library of paper and film options, and nearly an unlimited selection of shapes for both bodies and necks. For application, the labeling machine usually consists of two rollers: one that spins the labels through glue application and another that spins the bottles into the freshly glued labels for application.
Pressure-sensitive labels are applied from a coiled strip of waxed carrier (also called “backing”) paper. The labeling machine peels them off the carrier paper and transfers them to the bottle. Pressure sensitive are well-suited for entry-level labeling because the labels come with adhesion pre-applied to the substrate.
Roll-fed wrap labels are another great labeling option. The label is applied to the container with cold-glue or hot-melt glue. This labeling solution offers the ability to print a label that covers the middle of the bottle with 360-degree coverage.
Shrink labels are another option where the sleeves are shrunk on the container. The film is highly engineered with shrink-extraction properties in order to ensure that it shrinks onto the package in a predictable way.
There are a variety of label styles to consider when creating the perfect beer bottle label and they include: beer neck labels, full wrap around labels, and half wrap beer bottle labels. Most beer brands include both the main square label and the beer neck label on the beer bottle in order to maximize the space available. Full wrap beer bottle labels are generally rectangular labels that wrap completely around the surface of a beer bottle.
Types of Labelers
The principal types of automatic labelers used in the brewing industry are tandem and rotary.
An in-line labeler is a type of machine for which the bottle travels in a straightforward motion on a conveyor that moves the product in one direction to one or more labeling heads (Figure 17.10). They may also incorporate a feature to effectively stabilize products as they are labeled while moving on the conveyor, such as feed screw and trunnion roll systems, spacing wheels or belts, and aligning belts or chains.
Rotary labeling systems are the most robust option especially when it comes to label applications. If the product needs orienting, multiple labels, and/or requires fast speeds to meet high output, the rotary labeler is the machine for the job. In a rotary labeler system, bottles enter a star wheel and are transported on a continuously rotating carousel where the product is turned on bottle plates and labeled at different position points.
For breweries with automated end-of-line machinery like case packers, label inspection becomes necessary. From basic label presence sensors to more fancy camera systems to inspect proper label positioning, barcode, or variable information printed on the label, rotary labeler makes it easy to integrate such systems.
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