As featured in Machinery Update magazine, July 2020

With the introduction of social distancing measures, end-to-end automation to facilitate fewer people along the production line will be the aim for some manufacturers as the pandemic rumbles on. For those companies who have partially automated the process already, extending automation beyond production and into packaging processes will make a print and apply labelling system an appealing option.

In a manual packaging environment, where typically between two and four people are needed to complete the process from erecting the boxes, packing, sealing, labelling and palletising, operating in a confined space is no longer an option under current social distancing guidelines. Spacing people two metres apart is causing major problems in this environment, drastically reducing the speed of throughput and slowing down production. What we’re observing now are manufacturers taking this as an opportunity to plug the gaps in their automation process which previously may not have been considered a priority and this is where print and apply labelling systems can help.

The benefits of a print and apply solution, of course, pre-date social distancing restrictions. Manual printing and applying of labels, where batches of labels are pre-printed in bulk in a designated print room and brought to the packaging line to be applied by hand, poses the risk of the wrong label being applied, which is a major security issue. There’s also the waste to factor in; as the clock strikes midnight and the codes are revised to reflect a new date, pre-printed labels become unusable and get thrown away. Print and apply labelling systems create the label in real time, on the line, with the security of built-in barcode verification, enabling an efficient workflow and reducing manual labour costs.

Of course, with cost effective, quick to deploy cobots so readily available on the market you can quickly automate the box packing pre-label and seal and auto palletise post label and seal. Cobalt can supply a case sealing and labelling system in one small footprint that’s ready to run.

Read Machinery Update's full article Could Robotics Come of Age in 'New Normal'?

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