In the competitive space for consumer packaged goods, package integrity is a key component to success. To ensure each package coming off the line is to spec, one major beverage brand turned to its machine integrator to find a shrink-sleeve labeler and label inspection solution for one of its popular drink lines.
Through a collaboration between Cobalt Integration, Sleeve Seal, and Silgan Equipment, the beverage brand found a solution that leveraged in-plant space savings, user-friendly equipment, and 360-degree product inspection.
Equipment upgrades were key.
Cobalt Integration is an engineering firm that focuses on project and construction management and engineering. As an integrator, Cobalt is accustomed to going to its customers’ plants, hearing about their problems, and finding a solution.
“We handle cradle-to-grave project management from an idea to completion,” says Amy Lomax, Principal of Operations at Cobalt Integration.
Completing a project includes procuring equipment, all the integration for the components on the line, making sure the building will fit all the pieces, and bringing in the right staff — all the way through to project close out.
For this project, the beverage brand was expanding one of its product offerings. The brand needed a more efficient shrink sleeve labeler. But not any shrink sleeve equipment would do; the brand was looking for a sleek design that wouldn’t take up too much space in the plant and be able to create accurate labeling on each bottle.
Cobalt knew that the right partner for this would be Sleeve Seal, a company that understands space savings and the benefits of using a streamlined machine that any worker can operate. Cobalt helped to add the capacity the beverage brand needed and be sure it could integrate into the rest of the packaging line.
Then, to ensure labeling accuracy, Cobalt enlisted the help of Silgan Equipment, another of Cobalt’s trusted partners that brought its vision systems in to inspect each label that was applied.
“We doubled the number of lines that could run that product at their facility. And we made the lines they had running it more efficient,” says Lomax. “We had to remove their old sleeve labelers that were very inefficient.”
The selected equipment, Sleeve Seal’s SSL-800i MKII vertical sleeve labeler, is the company’s fastest single-head labeler at up to 800 packs per minute. Prior to using Sleeve Seal’s equipment, the beverage giant was using bulky equipment that was overly complicated and unnecessarily large. With Sleeve Seal, the brand is saving space in its plants while also seeing an uptick in productivity. Its simplified design takes up less floorspace and uses far fewer components, so it is much easier to operate and train workers to use.
Vision system tirelessly provides 100% inspection.
To ensure that the labels applied look uniform and consistent on each bottle coming off the line, Silgan Equipment’s easy installation and quality equipment then became the seamless next step in the process. The 51R85SVF was installed easily over existing conveyors, saving valuable floor space. And the stainless-steel design of the vision system can withstand harsh food and beverage plant conditions.
Plus, the easy-to-understand interface simplifies changeovers and new job setups. The system can store an unlimited number of recipes. And navigation via the user interface makes inspection setup easy.
On this line, Silgan Equipment’s sophisticated technology is running at 600 to 650 bottles per minute to be sure each label is exactly where it’s supposed to be, and shrinked accurately. It’s ensuring there is a label adhered, there are no holes in the labels, and that the labels are positioned correctly.
Because Silgan’s system has an integrated industrial PC instead of a mother board (like its previous system), processing time is faster. The system can run more than 1,500 bpm compared to the company’s older system’s speed of 800 bpm. Additionally, image stability from new high-definition ethernet cameras allows for better pixel count and clarity, which in turn allows for a more accurate inspections.
“Steam is not always perfect, it can cause labels to pull up or pull down, so vision is a great tool for this type of label verification,” says Lomax.
The label inspection equipment from Silgan Equipment provides 360-degree inspection of each bottle. The equipment uses multiple cameras to inspect at speeds up to 1,000 containers per minute, accurately detecting a label and any label errors. It can detect label folds, label tears, splices, skewed labels, and incorrect or missing labels.
“Silgan Equipment inspection systems are the best with incredible multiple camera inspection. We can do some inspections ourselves, depending on the presence or height of the label. If there is a need for more precise inspection, Silgan Equipment is the way to go,” says Grant Golden, Controls Manager at Sleeve Seal. “We have done numerous projects with them.”
The 100% product inspection prevents defective products from going downstream. The vision technology works on contrast in color and compares it with a picture of what the correct package should look like. To address natural products that have color variation, like tea, Silgan Equipment has unique solutions to ensure that this label inspection technology can perform accurately.
To date, Cobalt has partnered with Sleeve Seal and Silgan Equipment to create similar solutions to help beverage companies achieve accurate labeling on each of their products. All three companies involved in this solution pride themselves on customer service and working hard to find their customers the solution they are looking for. This shrink-sleeve labeler and vision inspection solution can be used for any consumer brand, from beverages to household products. Any product that has a shrink sleeve can use vision for maximum labeling integrity.
Interested in seeing this technology up close? The Sleeve Seal shrink sleever and Silgan Equipment inspection machine will be running a continuous loop in the Sleeve Seal booth at Pack Expo Las Vegas 2023 (October 9-11) in Hall C, Booth C-4840.
Patrick Yanahan is President of USA Strategies, a leading industry research and strategic marketing firm in Wheaton, Illinois. Yanahan has been an industry expert in the areas of plastics, chemicals, machinery, and technology for more than 20 years. Yanahan also serves as the Executive in Residence (EIR) and program head for the Innovation E-Celerator initiative at Elmhurst University in Elmhurst, Illinois. Yanahan holds a Masters of Business Administration from Elmhurst University, as well as a Certificate in Computer Science and additional coursework from Harvard University.