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The case of the snappy label

KC Boxbottom

February 12, 2015

2 Min Read
The case of the snappy label

Problem-solving packaging detective KC Boxbottom turns his attention to a labeler that keeps breaking the web and wasting production time.

I was just settling in for my afternoon siesta. I almost didn't answer the phone, but when I saw it was my buddy Bill...well, how could I refuse?

Bill got to the point. “I'm losing lots of production, KC. My labeler keeps breaking the web. I lose three to five minutes each time re-threading. Since this happens four to five times per shift, I am losing weeks of annual production. It's probably something simple but I can’t see it. I need your brainpower.”

“Sounds serious,” I told him. “I'll come right over.”

When I got there, he took me straight to the labeler. It was a fairly typical machine, tagging the end of the label onto a bottle as it entered a moving wrapdown belt. The label continued dispensing as the belt rotated the bottle, laying the label down.

“Pretty snappy machine you've got there, Bill.” I told him. "Fiddlesticks on broken webs. Speed is your problem."

“I'm going too fast?” he asked.

“You have three speeds that must match: label dispensing speed, conveyor speed and bottle speed. As the bottle comes into the wrap belt, it speeds up relative to the conveyor. This pulls the label out of the head, creating slack in the web. After dispensing, the web snaps back taut. If there is a weak spot, this can cause it to break.

“Synchronize the speeds and you will still have a snappy looking labeler without the snapping web.”


KC Boxbottom, packaging detective, is on the case to solve tough packaging puzzles. He is the alter-ego of John Henry, CPP. Known as the Changeover Wizard, Henry is the owner of Changeover.com, a consulting firm that helps companies find and fix the causes of inefficiencies in their packaging operations. He produces a free monthly newsletter called Lean Changeover, which contains articles and tips on changeover and related issues. Reach him at [email protected].

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