A company named etifix commissioned the Steinbeis Transfer Center Process Development to tackle a most unusual project: to develop a labeling machine for self-stick labels that accommodates all kinds of containers (such as bottles, cans, jars and tubes) without requiring major modifications.
The geometry alone is staggering. Containers with diameters measuring 20mm to 200mm, up to 500mm long and tubes with diameters spanning 16mm to 60mm, up to 300mm long. The task seemed unrealistic and impossible: have one and the same machine run the labeling for both kinds. Until now, the great differences between the sizes of the containers and tubes meant two entirely different machines were required.
The background: in recent years, etifix has not seen significant growth in the quantity of containers it labels, but due to their contents, the company had to separate the containers into an extremely high number of groups. Another key factor is that the costs for these containers – which are, as a rule, disposable – are very expensive when compared to the costs of filling. So to keep costs down, it made sense to use empty containers every time and simply change the labels for the contents.
Using a design system, the experts at the Steinbeis Transfer Center Process Development in Reutlingen, Germany generated solution matrices and constructed an artificial machine model which met every requirement listed earlier. The labeling machine is equipped with two lifting units, one for containers and one for tubes. Containers are picked up by rolls arranged in “Vs” and tubes on a rotatable pin – and in both cases, they’re pressed against a drive roll where labels emerge from a dispensing tip and are applied to the containers and tubes. And the most important part? It requires no molded parts specially designed for the machinery. This alone makes it like no other in the world. By now, the machine – available as a fully or semi-automatic system – has been granted IP rights.