Laser-activated labels at Procter & Gamble

Sharper, smaller, more reliable

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The Procter & Gamble brand, Oral-B Braun, is one of the best-known global brands for electrical oral hygiene appliances. At its Marktheidenfeld works, the company is pioneering a new method of labelling its shipping cases. HERMA's laser-activated labels are not only increasing efficiency, productivity and process reliability, but also helping to reduce costs.

The abundance of packaging formats makes very high demands of both the material flow arrangements and the labelling lines. Against this background, the plant recently decided to adopt a new approach with HERMA's laser-activated labels together with the appropriate labelling system.

No more "ironing over corners"

A shipping unit is formed by grouping batches of six packaged electric toothbrushes in a single outer case. In the former operation, a wrap-around label with two identical ITF codes, printed with a thermal transfer printer, was applied over one corner of these cases. In view of their size and the "ironing over corners", the labels were often not applied straight. In addition, there were print-head dot failures. Even tiny irregularities during printing have an impact on the legibility of the entire code. In some instances, the distributor or dealer will return a pallet or even a complete container if just a single label on one of the cases cannot be read. For Oral-B Braun, there were thus many reasons in favour of the HERMA solution comprising labels, a label applicator and a CO2 laser unit.

Fifteen minutes less maintenance every day

The new HERMA labels have a special finish that enables the laser in the labelling system to apply black inscriptions in the designated place – without any risk of smudging or scratching. Even with the smallest font sizes, the printed image is always very sharp, whether plain text, graphics or codes. Even complex certification marks are now extremely accurate and very clear. No smudgeable particles arise and the label is not damaged at all. The removal of residues or waste by suction is unnecessary. Furthermore, production interruptions occur less regularly because, apart from the labels, the laser system – unlike thermal transfer printers, for example – does not require any consumables or readjustment, and operates without wear.

Ten percent reduction in label material consumption

In order to decrease label material consumption, HERMA's application engineers replaced the single large label with two identical smaller ones. These are no longer applied directly to the case, but first transferred to a vacuum plate by a patented, roving separator. The pivoting plate then travels out to apply the labels to the case from the front and side. They are thus precisely located in the exactly defined position.

Before entering a real production environment, the labels underwent rigorous testing, including a sunshine test, to corroborate their reliability even with shipping cases that have been in storage for a long time. Oral-B Braun has found a thoroughly satisfactory solution and has already decided to adopt it for more of its lines.

The laser produces a very sharp image on the new HERMA labels, even with very small fonts and complex codes, and – unlike thermal transfer printing – does not require any additional consumables.
Precision that conserves resources: Two smaller HERMA labels are now applied instead of the uneconomical larger one that was formerly wrapped around the corner. The laser produces a non-smudge and scratch-resistant printed image.

Laser-activated labels

Label printing during production – flexible, customised, no contact.

Three components and one ingenious system: special laser-activated labels, in combination with a CO2 laser and a HERMA labelling machine, open up a host of new possibilities for product labelling. The system leads to significant gains in process reliability and cuts your production costs – a convincing alternative to conventional labelling solutions.

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