One question we’re frequently asked by our customers in the tire industry is, "What exactly is an automatic tread label applicator and what does it do?"
The simplicity of our answer may surprise you. In their basic form, automatic tread label applicators do exactly what their name claims—they automatically apply tread labels to your tires.
They can greatly reduce, or even eliminate the task of manual labeling from your facility, saving you time and budget. However, determining what kind of applicator makes sense for you given your goals, processes, and business case may not be so simple.
In order to help you find the best label applicator system is best for you, here are some points to consider:
How are you applying labels today?
Assuming you're using tread labels already and are looking to explore options for improving the process, we should first consider what your method is today.
Most likely it's the task of many people to apply labels at a certain point during processing. Labels are applied to tires by hand as they reach employees dedicated to labeling.
Consider how the tires reach this step. At what stage in processing are the tread labels being applied? Are tires placed on separate lines based on type? Is a tire barcode label used to track each tire through processing?
It's important to understand how your labeling is being accomplished now in order to determine feasibility in shifting to an automated process.
How many labels are we talking here?
As you can imagine, the need to apply a few hundred labels per day vs. the need to apply a few thousand or even hundreds of thousands will lead to a much different kind of applicator solution.
Most tire tread labeling solutions are relatively large in size, taking up a fair amount of floor space that might normally be occupied by one or more line operators. This is because, for the most part, tire tread label applicators are made to integrate directly into an existing conveyor system and apply labels as tires pass.
Since every facility runs at a different speed and has different throughput goals the throughput capabilities of your tread label applicator will want to be kept in mind. Different printers are capable of printing at different speeds and can withstand varying amounts of use per day, while different applicators can apply labels with a range of speeds.
Whether you’re trying to keep up with the speeds of your current processes or improve your throughput efficiency and volume, it’s important to ensure the equipment you purchase can keep up with your demand.
Computype offers Chromaffix, an automatic tread label applicator that integrates straight into tire manufacturing lines. An automation system like this is capable of applying a label every 2 seconds to keep pace with the high throughput needs of tire manufacturing.
What are you hoping to accomplish with label automation?
More specifically, why are you considering automating your tread labeling process? A few reasons our customers are typically looking to do this include the following:
- Reduce manual labor
- Improve label placement accuracy
- Reduce errors associated with labeling
- Integrate the labeling process with existing lines or workflows
- Increase throughput speeds and volumes
Understanding your goals will help in determining which tread label applicator makes the most sense for you.
Do you need a system to both print and apply labels?
Some automatic tread label applicator systems will automatically print labels, and then apply them. Other systems are designed to apply an already printed label or die cut part. If your labeling strategy requires variable data (date, lot code, product-specific information, etc.), you'll need to consider a system that, at a minimum, prints information on demand before automatic application. If your labeling strategy requires the use of color—let's say, to include your logo—we'll need to be sure we take that into consideration as well, as not all label applicators have the ability to print in color.
What is your budget?
Based on everything we've discussed above, it should come as no surprise that the investment in an automatic label applicator system can vary based on things like throughput needs and added features.
It’s difficult to give a range due to the amount of customization necessary to provide a trustworthy solution to each and every facility. What we can tell you is the standard list price for our own solution, Chromaffix. Chromafix costs $250,000 with opportunities for discounts when you sign a service and/or consumables agreement.
When considering business justification for a label applicator system, it's helpful to think through opportunity costs: what is the expense if a labeling mistake occurs? Or, if a tire doesn't get labeled at all?
You should also consider what you’re already paying when it comes to labeling. Often times it’s a lot more than you realize when all factors are taken into account. Look at consumable costs, the costs of existing printers, costs associated with labor, and waste. Take a look at how these costs add up over time and compare that with the cost of automation to get an idea of how long it will take to see ROI, it may be faster than you’d think.
To sum it all up, automatic label applicators can greatly reduce or even fully replace the manual task of labeling. Determining which system is right for you will depend on multiple factors associated with your goals, process, industry, and label volume. To continue your research, have a read through our whitepaper 'Is automatic label automation right for you? 4 key questions you must ask'.
Here at Computype, we've been helping customers improve their labeling processes with label automation for over 40 years. Our Global Services Team and Equipment Engineers are experts in helping you determine which applicator makes the most sense for your business, budget, and future goals.