Where cost is the king
Food canners are demanding more efficient and cost-effective labelling systems, reports Tom Woerndl.
In the food canning sector, paper labels have been a mainstay for decades. The reason is simple: paper provides a cost-effective solution, offering a reasonable level of product decoration at a low price. This view is supported by Dieter Vogelsang, director of sales and engineering at Langguth America, which supplies labelling machines to the food canning industry.
“The majority of our food can customers use paper labels – it’s a really great solution that performs well during production and is low cost,” he confirms. “Plastics-based labels are up to 40 percent more expensive, so that’s quite a financial consideration for a company that’s looking to make the switch.” Ontario, Canada-based Langguth’s latest development is a spray-on glue system for its labellers that is said to eliminate moving parts and ensure safe and easy changeovers for operators. The company’s hotLAN solution, which is suitable for use with metal, glass and PET containers, incorporates a non-contact glue system and an “infinitely adjustable” label magazine. “The key benefit of the machine is that it employs a non-contact glue system,” says Vogelsang. “Our machine applies a very specific and correct amount of glue to the can before labelling, which saves a substantial amount of raw material and reduces maintenance.
“We’ve also improved the machine so that it is now fully enclosed and complies with various food safety standards.” According to Vogelsang, Langguth works closely with its customers to
improve its machines, with recent modifications including integrated bar code verification and reject systems. “This technology improves controls, because the operator can find the set up
sheet for each container in the HMI [human machine interface],” he says. “This means there are no more excuses for lost documentation in a food canning plant.”
Recent sales have been strong, with the food canning category continuing to provide an area of growth for the company. “We have sold a good number of machines into the food industry, for applications such as meat canning,” notes Vogelsang. “The design changes we made to comply with the FDA’s Food Safety Act have possibly contributed to these higher sales.”
A recent project for the company saw the installation of a number of labelling machines at a North American canning plant that produces bright stacked cans in a range of sizes for a number of different customers.
“They just love the short changeover time to switch can size or just the label,” says Vogelsang. “This is really important for a co-packer that handles a variety of different products in different can formats. “Our machines are easy and fast to adjust for different can sizes and even faster for different label sizes. This is Langguth’s strongest sales point. Operators have given us excellent feedback on the ease of running our machines.” Vogelsang adds that the main demands from customers are low total cost of ownership and reliability. “We ensure this with fewer moving parts, and fewer maintenance hours. In short: more uptime, less downtime.” While most of Langguth’s canning customers continue to use paper labels, there has been some expansion into OPP (oriented polypropylene) film. “That varies a bit from industry to industry,” explains Vogelsang. “Manufacturers of luxury products are moving to high end OPP labels, but it really depends on the point of sale. “For a coffee product, for instance, a company might look to a plastics film label to provide differentiation for consumers. High-quality, glossy film really stands out on the shelf.” The company says it has longstanding agreements with the major canning line suppliers on the West Coast, as well as the central US states, although this area is “still in development”.
Irplast and Friesland Campina continue collaboration
Italian label supplier Irplast has continued itsproject with major dairy producer Friesland Campina to supply BOPP (biaxially-oriented polypropylene) shrink sleeves for its evaporated milk cans.
Last year, the Dutch dairy company tasked Irplast with finding an alternative to paper labels that could withstand “extreme” logistics, including wide temperature changes and prolonged storage in humid conditions.
Following trials and tests, Empoli-based Irplast developed a pre-glued, linerless shrink sleeve and signed an agreement with Friesland to supply 300 million units, which the dairy producer applied using Adhesleeve machines supplied by PE Labellers.
The benefit of using shrink sleeves is that they require no additional glue, which Irplast says saves labelling machine costs, and allows faster application speeds. They also offer more sophisticated and high-quality design options compared to paper labels.
“This agreement fits perfectly with Irplast’s determination to offer cost-effective solutions for evolving situations in the packaging market,” said Fausto Cosi, chief executive of Irplast, after signing of the deal.
“Today, this new application not only offers a novel solution for can labelling, but it sees Irplast offering other key advantages in terms of costsaving along the customer’s supply chain. We
are very proud of the faith that such a large player in the global dairy industry has placed in our proposal, composed entirely of in-house research and development, and Italian technology.”
Following this successful collaboration, Irplast is currently testing further shrink sleeve solutions for Friesland Campina for a range of different can formats. “We are working on testing pre-glued shrink sleeves for bigger cans of powdered milk,” confirms Luca de Bartolo, operations director at Irplast.
The company operates mainly in the food, beverage, tobacco and toiletries sectors, and has three in-house R&D centres in Italy to research material and label advances.
More information from Irplast, Zona Industriale Terrafino, Empoli 50053, Italy.
Tel: 39 0571 9701 – Fax: 39 0571 931 728. Web: www.irplastgroup.it
“We’re happy to collaborate with any company and will use our expertise of more than 80 years in the business to ensure that an installation runs smoothly,” says Vogelsang.
Despite the continuous lightweighting process undertaken by food canmakers, Langguth’s machines have not required modifications to adapt to thinner can walls. “We have observed
this trend, but had no problems when running these cans,” explains Vogelsang. “Because we put no stress on the can until it picks up the label, we have notbeen required to redesign anything.”
As for the future of the food canning market, Vogelsang is optimistic: “The canning market is as strong as ever and that will not change any time soon,” he says.
“Equipment in canning plants often needs updating as it is old and inefficient, and producers are required to invest to keep costs and profits at a good level.
“Other than this, the canning industry is on the right track in every aspect. Cans are easily recycled, so the sustainability aspect is an important benefit for producers and consumers.”
More information from Langguth America, 109 Randall Drive, Waterloo, Ontario, N2V1C5, Canada. Tel: 1 519 888 0099. Fax: 1 519 888 0029.Web: www.langguth-america.com