1. Production Rate: The production rate measured in products per minute is the single most important criterion used to determine the type of machinery needed for a given application. A simple inexpensive machine may be adequate for an application requiring only 40-50 products per minute, whereas an application requiring speeds above 500 products per minute will be considerably more expensive.
2. Environment: The production environment is also a very important and often overlooked factor used to determine the type of labeling machine. Environment includes sophistication of the machine operators, cleanliness of the shop, tendency to perform regular maintenance, contents of the packages being labeled and likelihood of product spillage. Environment also includes the duty requirements of the system: is the machine operating 40 hours a week or 24 hours per day? The harsher the environment the heavier duty the machine required. Unfortunately production rate alone is too often used to specify the class of machinery chosen.
3. Control Packages: Another important consideration is the electronic controls specified for the labeler. This requirement should be discussed very early in the selection process and will significantly affect the price of the system. Today a simple control package consists of a microprocessor paired with a stepping motor label drive. At the other end of the spectrum there are PLC systems with color touchscreen operator interface and a servomotor controlled label drive.
4. Changeover: The number and frequency of product changeovers can also significantly influence the type and class of system chosen. Inline systems tend to have simpler changeovers with fewer parts while rotary labeling systems require expensive change parts for every product. Some applications, due to the shape and/or speed of the container, can only be achieved with a rotary labeling system. Generally, the need for frequent changeovers will move an application to an inline system if possible.
5. Parts & Service: Professional responsive technical support is vital for maintaining maximum productivity of equipment in the field. The following question should be satisfactorily answered.
How easy is it to purchase parts?
Is there online support?
Is there telephone support?
Is there 24 hour turnaround for parts in an emergency?
Is there a significant time difference from your location to the labeling equipment supplier location?
How costly is a visit by a service technician?
The answers to these questions should influence the choice of the labeling equipment supplier.