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How do you apply labels?


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We have just added a new product, and for the first time we are using applied labels instead of printed bottles. I am already dreading the label application, and was wondering how others apply labels - by hand or using a labeler? It appears we can get a table-top labeler for about $1500-$2000 - would it be a worthwhile investment? And if so, are there particular brands that are better than others? I did see a used Green Machine available for under $1000....


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We use a Race labeler http://www.racelabel.com It is completely hand powered- no motor drive, the threading of the web helps to power it, just lay the bottle on the rollers, rotate the bottle and roll the label right on. We have pretty big labels (7"x9") on some of our stuff and Race makes a version for handling larger sizes. They also have a version that handles tappered bottles. We've found the speed to be quite adequate and have labeled over 300 bottles an hour with this. I like it because it's pretty forgiving of defects in label die cutting and bottle shrinkage that can cause automated labelers problems.

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I have 20 years of experience in food manufacturing management an unfortunately that includes an intimate experience with labeling machines.

The first rule of thumb is "simpler the better". Avoid a lot of moving parts and electronics.

As already pointed out round symmetrical bottles work best. If you have any square sides or odd shapes then you have to deal with "indexing" the label with involves "eye spots" and delicate eye spot sensors/switches, which then leads to timing and precise bottle positioning.

Many labeling machines work well for round bottles. For wine this is common but for us spirits people we are more likely to use more creative bottle choices in regards to shape.

In the wine industry they often use the same shape bottle and just change label styles or bottle colors. This means that the same labeler can be used for a wide variety of wines. For us distillers it is unlikely that we will use the same bottle for our vodka, gin, whiskey, etc..... so a one size labeler will not fit all.

Also you have to make sure your label is labeling machine friendly. Which sounds simply enough but I once saw $50,000 worth of labels go out in the trash because they were not compatible with machine application.

We label our bottles by hand. Until you get the kind of volume that justifies the cost and head aches of automatic labeling then I believe based on my experience with all things considered hand application is the best choice. You just have to evaluate your operation and make the decision based on if it is cost effective to invest in a labeling machine.

And don't forget maintenance. You don't just go down to the local hardware for repair parts.

Hopes this helps. Beast

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We use the Label-Aid from Label One.


It's very simple to operate, built tough, and has very few parts. A big plus for us is that my wife and kids can operate it.

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We spent $5000 on a machine that is Italian (MEP?). We bought it from st. Pat's in Texas and though it has its quirks, it can label 600 bottles per hour. I've been told that no matter how much you spend, labelers are all a pain but once you figure them out you're good to go.

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We're going to be using a Primera AP362 labeling machine. You can buy one on amazon for $1200. I've seen them in use and they are definitely worth the price.

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