When tires receive a tread label, the best way to achieve a quality product is completely process and brand dependent; it is important to note that what works for one tire manufacturer may not work for another. There are a couple of options for how your company will achieve quality tread labels:
- Partnering with a supplier that can offer partial pre-printed tread labels
- Printing full-color labels on-demand.
- Automatically print and apply black and white labels on-demand
Tire tread labeling is an area that we've developed expertise in over the years. We have tire labeling and material experts, extensive experience with legislation requirements, and we even have created print and apply automation of our own.
Every tire headed for retail sale requires a tire tread label. They are important for a few reasons:
- Legislation requirements: there are many legislation requirements surrounding tire tread labels, as it is imperative they communicate key safety and usage information to consumers. Since tires become part of a customer’s everyday life, properly educating consumers is both essential and ethical.
- Branding: Tire tread labels also succeed to improve product branding and differentiation for the business. This may require that you need color, a logo, etc. to achieve a look to your brand standards and stand out on the shelf amongst competitors.
- Retail: Finally, for retailing purposes, it is important that your tread label looks up to standards for retailing, and can show retailers and consumers that your tire has been properly and completely made.
In this article, we will review the pros and cons of both pre-printed and print on-demand solutions, and provide you with the insight you need to choose the best tread labeling technique for your facility.
1. Partnering with a supplier that can offer partial pre-printed tread labels:
Partnering with a supplier for your tire tread labels means that you will receive quantities of tread labels that are already partially printed. Typically, these labels will be pre-printed with the company logo, color borders, and information that will be consistent across all tires. After receiving these, the tire manufacturer can then stock labels based on their specific needs, as well as print and apply tire-specific and variable information on-demand and on-site.
- Color print is controlled and can be more precise - Partial pre-printed color tread labels offer the option of branding and more appealing retail options. Additionally, color printing can be more precise when handled through a converter rather than printing full-color on-demand.
- Flexibility within your process - Flexibility increases when you have a supplier that can offer partial pre-printed tread labels, as they can be utilized through in-line, integrated automatic tread label application.
- In-house inventory management - The most notable negative to receiving partial pre-printed tread labels is the inventory space it requires. As tire manufacturing plants have a particularly high throughput rate, they typically need to inventory pallets of labels at a time. This takes up a lot of space in the plant, which can pose a challenge. A potential solution to this is asking if your supplier can offer an order release management program, where you will only receive a certain amount of labels at a time instead of the entire bulk order.
2. Printing full-color labels on-demand
Printing full-color labels on-demand means that you will invest in a full-color printer. Typically this kind of application is not meant to replace full-on manufacturing labeling operations, but rather to augment labeling at a different or later point in the process. For example, if the original label was scratched or smeared, or if a unique design was needed a single duplicate label could be easily printed to replace the damaged version. One of the best full color printers for tread labels on the market today is the Epson C7500.
- Flexible, fast, perfectly engineered labels on-demand - The color options and the image quality of a desktop inkjet printer have proven adequate and consistent in tread label printing applications. Additionally, this printer model prints at rapid speeds, allowing for high-volume throughputs.
- Label formats can be uploaded to a database - Many inkjet printers can manage hundreds of label formats, allowing for every label printed to be different if needed. This also increases the ease of use of this printer, as you do not have to upload each label format every time it needs to be printed.
- Manual Application - The primary drawback of this tread labeling printing method is that once the labels are printed, the application is likely manual. This obviously requires labor, but if used as more of a ‘backup’ or distribution level labeling strategy, manual labor is likely to be more sporadic rather than consistently required.
- Limited quality assurance - While these printers tend to be very high in quality, they still cannot match the image quality of advanced flexographic or digital print presses.
3. Automatically print and apply black and white labels on-demand:
What if you don't need color? Yes, including color in your tread labeling strategy can improve branding and allow compliance with certain legislative requirements. However, most likely you still have plenty of tires that don't require, and maybe wouldn't benefit much from a full color tread label. To achieve quality black and white tread labels you simply need to source blank labels from a supplier—every other aspect of your tread labeling strategy will be handled in-house.
- Fully integrated solution - One of the greatest benefits of this approach is your ability to fully integrate every aspect of tread labeling with your existing processes. With an automatic print and apply label applicator installed along your conveyor lines you can generate, print, and apply accurate tread label formats to multiple different tire types without slowing down production. Learn more about how our tread label applicator works by reading our complete guide here.
- Lean manufacturing - If you're looking to streamline your plant in accordance with lean manufacturing best practices this strategy is ideal. This method resolves or significantly reduces nearly every major waste targeted by lean manufacturing.
- No color - Of course, the downside here is that your labels will only be black and white.
Don't just pick one!
Mix and match these strategies to develop a complete approach to tread labeling that will support your larger goals and ease production challenges.
In all honesty, many tire plants would benefit significantly from employing all three of these options.
For example, you could start by implementing an automatic print and apply tread labeling system in your plant. With that system you could load either blank or pre-printed tread labels based on your current needs.
The associated printer would either print the entire black and white label, or simply fill in the pre-printed template with the needed black and white elements. And further down the line, perhaps at a retail location or distribution center, you could rely on an in-house label printer to address any label concerns or showcase certain tires with unique label designs.
Automation helps achieve a quality tire tread label, as it integrates the process into one system, increasing throughput and boosting efficiency in the plant. Additionally, the technology allows for precise printing and personalized information for every label, so that every tire will have the chance to be properly tracked and identified throughout the entire tire manufacturing process.
If you have any questions on how to design a tread labeling strategy that will complement your goals, schedule your free consultation with one of our tire pros.