When it comes to choosing the best round bottle labeling machines for wine and spirits, you need to consider three basic attributes: speed, cost, and flexibility. Depending on the size of your operation, these three points will help you discover which labeling machines are best suited to where you currently are and where you hope to be in a few short years.
This guide will walk you through some of these considerations and offer a few options that are currently available to you.
Meeting Your Needs
The first part of deciding on a labeling machine for your wine and spirits is knowing what you hope to get from this machine. In nearly all cases, a semi-automatic, wrap-around labeling machine is the best option because it allows you to ramp up from small batches of wine and spirits to more of an in-line full-speed setup over time without having to completely overhaul your equipment. That is where flexibility comes in. Semi-automatic machines can be used modularly at various stages of your progression, allowing you to continue using a machine that you have already paid for and grown familiar with. The speed at which the machine works can be adjusted up or down to suit your current needs and expectations. In addition, these machines are very flexible and easy to use when it comes to changing over between different products. With one-button memory functions, you will be able to do your changeovers in just minutes.
The other part of the equation is the cost of the machine itself. Semi-automatic labeling machines for wine and spirits tend to be less costly than fully-automatic inline machines because they are designed for intermediate use. Fully-automatic commercial scale machines may be in your future, but there is no reason to overspend today when a semi-automatic machine will get the job done. There is also labor cost to be considered. The investment in a semi-automatic machine will actually help you save money on labor hours that were previously spent with a manual hand labeler. That's what makes these machines such a good fit all around.
Now that you see how cost, flexibility, and speed form the basis of a great labeling machine, it is time to look at some of the machines that are currently on the market and break down the pros and cons of each.
The ELF-50 Tabletop Labeler
The ELF-50 tabletop labeler is an extremely convenient tabletop labeler that can be easily moved between product lines. It is lightweight but manages to include the same advanced one-button setup features that larger machines have. Basically, you press the button and the machine will use internal sensors to locate your container and position the label. From there, you can fine-tune the label placement using manual adjustments. This machine is also able to integrate hot-foil printer add-ons so that you can include lot codes and expiration dates without needing separate equipment. Finally, despite its small size, it can handle a wide range of product sizes.
As for speed and productivity, the ELF-50 excels by allowing you to pre-set a number of products to label and using a stepper motor to move the labels through while maintaining a count. This also allows you to track productivity during the day and pace your labeling. Finally, it is able to store up to five memory settings at a time, even when not in use, so you can pull it out and have it up and running in almost no time. There is no need for redundant setup procedures with each new batch. As our smallest labeling machine, it also happens to be one of our most cost-friendly products to date.
The PL-501-NL is the next step up in our semi-automatic bottle labeling line. Using the same touchscreen one-button system as the ELF-50, you can have your PL-501-NL ready to go in just a few short minutes. This machine also gives you access to even more printer add-ons and upgrades in the future if you need thermal printing. This machine is designed to attach to your other in-line equipment and work just like a fully-automatic machine when needed, or to function modularly on small batch labeling.
In order to improve accuracy and efficiency with this model, there are more sensors which test for missing labels and shut down the machine temporarily to alert you if a problem exists. This machine is also set up to apply both body and neck labels in the same pass, meaning that you can cut your labeling time in half and still get award-winning results. Plus, this machine is able to store up to 30 memory settings for even easier setup and movements between product lines. While this machine is more costly on the front end than the ELF-50, it is also many times more flexible and efficient.
For all the great features of the PL-501-NL above, there is another incremental upgrade available in the form of the PL-521. This machine uses all of the same labeling features as the PL-501, as well as making all of the same upgrades and add-ons available. The major difference between the two machines is that the PL-521 uses an angled roller that is especially useful for small bottles that are difficult to work with. The angled roller ensures that labels are placed firmly on small bottles without damaging the container, and keeps things moving smoothly for increased label placement accuracy.
Similar to the PL-501, the PL-521 uses a stepper motor and counting system to manage batches and track productivity. You will still have 30 memory settings accessible through the touchscreen panel for instant setup and ultimate productivity, and the price of the PL-521 is comparable to the PL-501 in the middle of the pack.
At the top end of labeling machines for wine and spirits is the PRO-515. This machine takes all the best qualities of the PL line and adds even more functionality. For instance, tiltable label heads are perfect for working with tapered bottles and other unique shapes. This machine can also be used in-line or semi-automatic, although it really excels in in-line operations. Another major difference between this machine and the two previous machines is the addition of 360° controls, meaning that the touchscreen can be rotated or moved to make the job more comfortable for even better productivity from your team. While this machine does cost more, it offers a faster labeling speed and the ability to go all out with your bottling.
The PL-252 Tamper Evident Labeler
One last addition to this guide is the PL-252 Tamper Evident Labeler. Using many of the same systems as the other PL labelers, this particular machine can be used to add tamper-evident seals around the neck of your bottles. For wine and spirits, this addition is an important one to have on board, and it doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg. Most importantly, the application of the tamper evident seal can be done in a single pass with your body labels, saving you time and money.
Now that you have seen the full range of available labeling machines that can be used for wine and spirits, you should also think about the other factors that will go into your decision-making process. For instance, in order for any of these machines to operate at their best, you need to have quality bottles to begin with. Issues like bottle variance, bubbles, peeling and inaccurate label application can all be traced back to the quality of the containers that you are using. If you are concerned that this may be a problem, we encourage you to contact Pack Leader USA today and speak with one of our labeling experts about your containers and the challenges you are currently facing. Sign up for a free labeling solution consultation today.