Achieving a perfect label application to a complex package can be challenging, especially for larger labels that cover more package real estate. This application scenario was no exception.
There were two bottle sizes: 70 and 128 oz. Both were experiencing the same issues. Multiple factors came into play to hamper the application process, some known and some to be discovered.
During the application trials, label performance issues appeared immediately. The labels were wrinkling and lifting away from the package. The AWT team’s initial diagnosis pointed toward a label that was too large to conform to the complex shape of the bottle. So AWT Prepress proposed and designed a smaller die outline, logically thinking the smaller label would work better for this package. And in the next round of application testing the new label did alleviate the wrinkling issue as predicted, but the lifting problem was still occurring. Once again the AWT team was in search of an answer.
Experience and some clues during the trials led to the thought that the plastic bottles may not have been treated to remove mold release agents. Further investigation revealed the bottles were provided by the customer, and that the customer had purchased the bottles from a packaging broker/distributor. Upon learning this, AWT engaged Fasson – the manufacturer of the material being used for the PS labels. Fasson was asked to analyze the bottles and provide findings that may shed light on the stubborn lifting problem.
Fasson came back with an answer that was the key to solving the issue. Fasson’s analysis found that the bottles were not flame-treated, the most likely cause of the lifting problem. They also had a solution involving a new face-stock material and different adhesive formula.
Subsequent application trials with the new material/adhesive combination went smoothly, and the issues of wrinkling and lifting were eliminated.
This project was a learning opportunity in many ways:
At AWT Labels & Packaging, we’re dedicated to providing the most cost-effective, environmentally-friendly option for your flexible packaging (and label) printing needs. Contact the Experts at AWT to get started on your next project.
When it comes to labels and flexible packaging, the cost of the part is a small component of the Total Applied Cost (TAC) of the part. Budget owners should consider several elements of what it costs to get the product accurately labeled, packaged and routed to the shipping dock. Hopefully, this blog will give you some perspective of what makes up TAC.
Total Applied Cost is an important consideration to determine true cost!
TAC is far more than the actual cost of the label or flexible packaging part. We condensed TAC to nine categories of cost besides the actual cost of the part. All these cost elements (in the numerator) usually interest the budget owner of the production facility and impact downtime, efficiency and ultimately the net run speed of the production line. Further, these costs should be added to the extended cost of the label or flexible packaging part.
Costs easily overlooked include obsolete inventory and excess inventory. Typical root causes for obsolescence include: component or ingredient changes, regulatory compliance changes, brand redesign, or the product is just not selling like forecasted. You can spot excess inventory in the warehouse by using the “white glove” test. Simply slip on an inexpensive pair of disposable white gloves and take a stroll through your label storage room. Slide your finger across the top of the label cartons and notice the darkness of the dust on your finger: the darker the glove, the higher probability of excess inventory/obsolescence. These parts should be scrapped and added to extended costs in the numerator. No reason to hang onto it and pay for storage space.
Finally, don’t overlook how “quantity” impacts TAC unit cost…True unit cost is based on quantity used NOT quantity ordered. You could easily understate the real TAC by using Quantity ordered in the denominator. Closely managing inventory levels will pay big dividends and have a significant positive impact on reducing real TAC.
A relevant story that makes the point about the importance of Total Applied Cost is an automotive aftermarket company who makes and distributes remanufactured automobile power steering units. The units themselves were labeled with a high end PET label/resin TTR ribbon combo and moved down the assembly line to the packaging area where another paper thermal transfer label was generated for the shipping carton. Due to a number of reasons, including poor communication, there were a number of mix-ups of the finished units. This caused both shadetree mechanics and auto repair shop personnel serious heartburn, major league frustration, especially when the Chevy power steering unit they were about to install turned out to be for a Ford! You can only imagine the cost of restocking/replacing products and customer dissatisfaction!
After careful analysis by the assembly plant, the solution to the problem was to redesign/implement the label at triple the cost. Yep, 3 x’s the cost of the previous label! Both the actual power steering hard goods label and the shipping carton label were made out of PET and printed on one TTR label, with a split liner. That allowed the shipping label to remain adhered to the unit, removed, and applied to the shipping carton as the re-manufactured unit was inserted into the carton. When this solution was presented to the ‘purchasing agent’, a person whose yearly review was based on cost reduction of their commodities, the quick answer was that no, a tripling of label costs was absolutely not acceptable. When the proposed solution was presented to the Operations Manager however, he took a look at it, thought about it for about 60 seconds, and asked how long it would take to implement it and whether he could pay a rush charge to get it done more quickly. Mislabeled power steering units dropped almost to zero once the program was dialed in. Even though the actual label cost tripled, when factoring in the cost of mislabeling, receiving returns and quick replacement shipping costs, the new label design was far less when considering the Total Applied Cost.
So don’t forget to consider that it’s not just the unit cost of the label or flexible packaging part but the Total Applied Cost of the quantity used. It can make a big difference to the organization!
Special acknowledgment to former AWT employee Dave Olson who contributed to some of the concepts in this blog.
It’s no secret that the use of flexible packaging is on the rise. According to numbers generated by a Harris Poll chartered by the Flexible Packaging Association, 26 percent of all brands have increased their usage of flexible packaging in the past five years, and 31 percent intend to increase their flexible packaging usage in the next five years1. Not only does flexible packaging cost less for manufacturers to produce and ship, but it also offers significant environmental advantages over its rigid counterpart.
You’ve probably noticed that just about every aisle in the grocery store now sells a pouched or bagged version of a product like soups, coffee, and cleaning products were once only sold in a rigid package. However, what you might not have (intentionally) noticed is the amount of design detail that goes into the flexible packaging your food comes in. You see, brand owners know that they have less than 1/3 of a second to influence your decision-making. This means their product needs to immediately grab your visual attention, inspiring you to pick their product off the shelf and look at it.
Keep your eyes out for these flexible packaging trends and see if they inspire you to put a product in your cart:
One of the hottest trends out there right now is soft touch matte coatings. The second a consumer picks up a product and has a pleasing tactile experience, they are one step closer to making a purchasing decision. After all, a velvety-feeling coffee pouch is a great subliminal complement to the velvety flavor of the coffee.
You will often see a matte look in products that want to be associated with unprocessed, natural, earthy goodness. Often times, the less shiny or frilly the package, the higher the presumption that its contents are natural and pure.
Matte coatings are also targeted to be easy on the eyes. As the population gets older, the bright lights of display cases cause reflections that make labels difficult to see. Matte surfaces will give a brand an advantage over glossy surfaces.
Merging technology with functionality, thermochromatic coatings change color based on temperature, indicating if the product is being stored and served at the correct temperature. This is becoming increasingly popular among beer cans, iced tea labels, microwave foods and more.
Often used to highlight graphics of the product, its benefits, company logo, a Spot/Gloss varnish is a subtle and visually appealing way to draw attention to a specific area on the package.
The flexible packaging market is ever-evolving with exciting new trends. To discuss incorporating these trends (or explore others!) into your next project, contact the Experts at AWT Labels & Packaging.
Personal care is on the rise and, let’s be honest, everyone has different needs when it comes to choosing their products. However, while achieving the holy grail of differentiation is great, if you want to tell your potential customers anything, you have to get their attention first.
This is where packaging can make or break you.
Today, you might get five seconds to make an impression with a buyer – if you’re lucky. This is not necessarily a bad thing. Consumer choice creates the opening in the market. With so many options, however, it is easy for your product to get lost in the sea of solutions. Whether your product is being picked up in a physical retail location or discovered through social media, packaging is going to be one of the first ways your customer comes into contact with your brand.
We are here to help. Here are five trends in the personal care packaging space that will help your products to thrive and connect with the people you were meant to serve.
Give your packaging design some room to breathe by leaving some clean space. Bold, bright colors can have their best effect when given room to express themselves. Clean white packaging can also be given a subtle touch of quality with various coatings. Whether it is the entire package or just the label, soft-touch matte varnish not only delivers a striking look, it also elevates the tactile feel of your product.
If your packaging has enough space, you can also include product see-through windows. This is a beautiful aesthetic option that promotes product transparency – and giving any potential customer an inside look before they purchase might just be the deciding factor.
Customers are more environmentally aware than ever. The good news is that using more eco-friendly materials and delivery systems in your packaging makes sense across the board. Showing your stance on the environment and your company’s commitment to the big picture impact of commerce can strengthen the connection with your customers. Using flexible rather than rigid packaging is also more economical in terms of shipping and storage costs – rigid packaging takes up more room per unit on the truck and in warehouses. Over time, these savings can make a huge positive impact on your business as well as the environment.
When designing your packaging, you must always consider the user experience. What is the best way to discover and interact with your product? Flexible packaging options are gaining traction thanks to the convenience they provide. Pouches are easier to store and use than bottles. Wipes are emerging because as a more convenient, on-the-go option for beauty products that were once thought to be used only at home. Resealable labels on flexible packaging can help to ensure a seamless customer experience. AWT’s team of experts can help you to sort out these finer details to ensure the ultimate user experience.
Another great way to surprise and delight customers is to personalize your packaging. This works with new releases, relaunching older products, refreshing products, or timing a release around a specific event relevant to your customers. Add scratch and sniff scent labels to refresh classic products or glow in the dark stickers for a special event. We can guide you towards high-quality comprehensive flexo label printing or digital label printing with a faster turnaround. It really comes down to your project goals and timeline.
With all the sleek options on the shelves today, a touch of retro is a great way to connect with your audience. Think slightly more detailed designs and alternate color palette options. Nostalgic elements can resonate with your customer no matter how long your brand has existed. Adding a vintage look to a customized special edition is an excellent way to combine two packaging trends for maximum impact.
We understand that every product has individual needs. Consider these five trends as general, scratch-the-surface guidelines for your projects. We don’t guess about what is working in today’s market – we utilize over 40 years of experience as experts in packaging. We would be happy to take a look at your specific project needs and map out a full strategy for your upcoming product line. Call 612-706-3700 today or drop us a note here at firstname.lastname@example.org for a free consultation.
Considering shrink sleeves for your product? We’re here to help! Check out these advantages of shrink sleeves and easy tips to get your project started on the right foot.
AWT has 10 color print capability using flexographic presses, offering competitive pricing for large volume runs. Our digital presses offer competitive pricing for variable printing, small SKUs, and require no plates. Contact AWT to discuss your project specifications and get started!
Everyone wants to live in a sustainable world. This includes being environmentally responsible in our work every day.
In the flexible packaging industry, most of the sustainability efforts tend to focus on materials. Designers and researchers are always searching for materials that come from renewable sources, are reusable in some way, can be easily recycled, or are compostable and/or biodegradable. A great deal of effort is also concentrated on reducing the overall amount of packaging by down gauging as well as eliminating layers and environmentally unfavorable materials.
While these efforts are all beneficial, an often overlooked opportunity for sustainability in flexible packaging is the manufacturing process itself. To manufacture flexible packaging in the most sustainable manner possible, one can utilize solvent-free adhesive lamination technology, also known as solventless lamination. The laminating adhesive used in this process is a two-component polyurethane. These two components must be mixed together in the appropriate way to form a useful adhesive that will bond the material layers to each other, forming a flexible packaging substrate. The manufacturers of these adhesive components control the viscosity properties of the final product in such a way that solvents are not required to maintain the material as a liquid; hence, solvent-free.
Solventless lamination technology utilizes a computer controlled Meter, Mix, Dispense Unit (MMDU) that continuously measures a precise amount of each component, then mixes and dispenses small amounts of the solvent-free adhesive into the laminating equipment. This differs from the traditional lamination method in which large batches, up to 55 gallons at a time, of adhesives are premixed for the manufacturing process; this can lead to excess waste.
The MMDU dispenses the adhesive into a laminating machine specifically designed to run this type of adhesive. The laminator applies the adhesive and combines the two layers of materials to form the flexible packaging lamination. Since there’s no solvent to drive out of the adhesive, no overhead ovens are required for drying the adhesive. The two materials are combined, wound into a roll, and the adhesive is allowed to crosslink (or cure) for a specified amount of time before moving to the next manufacturing stage.
This lamination technology is far more sustainable than the traditional adhesive lamination methods for three very important reasons:
The solvent-free adhesive lamination technology is a highly sustainable manufacturing method due the benefits of drastically reduced waste, lower material usage, and large energy savings. The large reductions in energy usage can be related directly to significant reductions in the release of carbon compounds to the atmosphere.
This is an example of just one of the many technologies that are available in the manufacturing process to improve sustainability, while still producing useful and safe flexible packaging structures. To learn more, contact your local AWT Representative at http://www.awtlabelpack.com/contact/
The use of flexible packaging continues to evolve as new film structures and applications come on –line. When you visit any retail or grocery store, there are plenty of examples of Brand companies using flexible packaging for their product package instead of rigid containers such as a standard box, jar or can.
Cost savings play a major role in making the switch to flexible packaging. There are potential savings not only in the cost of the package itself, but also in shipping and warehousing of film/pouches compared to, say, cans. Due to rigid container weight, size and rigidity, it’s inevitable that cans are going to take up more space in a semi-truck than flexible film/pouches. With cans, you ship the air in the open can and losing the area between the cans, whereas when shipping film or pouches, they can be stored flat, fitting higher quantities in the space. This reduces the number of trucks needed to ship supplies into the filling manufacture as well as reduces resources needed for warehouse space. Even when pouches are filled, the changing shape of the filled product requires less space than cans, so the cost savings continue when shipping the final package to the store. Flexible packaging should not only be considered for convenience to the consumer, but also as a cost savings to the manufacturer. In many cases, the Retail Store can inventory more flexible packaged products in the SKU location than rigid containers, leading to a reduction in stocking frequency costs.
Charles D. Yuska, President and CEO of PMMI, stated that the increased focus on sustainability is driving more demand for energy-efficient filling and closing machines that support flexible packaging materials.
Further, flexible packaging provides “360 degree” package real estate to promote the product and brand! An interesting statistic that Mr. Yuska also mentioned: “37% of U.S. consumers find it important to understand ingredients on food labels while 91% believe that products with recognizable ingredients are healthier, and the rise in demand for organic food has fueled a more than 10% growth in this sector.” Food manufacturers must act accordingly to meet the evolving customer needs and create foods with recognizable ingredients. This means the preservatives that are unrecognizable and generally extend shelf life should be replaced with packaging materials and technologies that can counter the removal of these preserving ingredients. An example of new technology like this would be using High Pressure Processing (HPP) which extends shelf life for fresher, safer foods.
The growing demand for products packaged in flexibles is largely driven by Millennials. Millennial consumers are always on the go, convenience-driven and as a result, are avid purchasers of single serving meals, pre-cooked meals, and meal kits. All of these foods fall right into the capabilities of flexible packaging and pouches. One of the fastest growing areas is snack foods, both in terms of items available at the market and those in flexible packaging, and it just continues to grow. Have you noticed that when shopping for a bag of chips, nuts, granola, cheese, or energy bar, looking down the aisles of these growing sections in grocery stores and gas stations, the choices seem endless!
Moving forward, I see flexible packaging expanding more into nonfood items, especially in liquids. Pouches will continue to replace bottles and boxes of items like laundry detergent, cleansers and such. We already see more cleaning supplies in wipes form and packaged in flexible films instead of tubs. Pouches for liquids is one of the fastest growing areas in both food and nonfood areas. Just look at the baby food section at a grocery store! Instead of rows of glass jars, you see plastic containers. In the toddler section, a lot of food is in pouches with a spout and the kids can feed themselves! Always on the go, like I mentioned before! Will canned soup and vegetables be next? After all, the flexible film technology is there. Pouched refills can be bought for house cleaning supplies, body washes, shampoos are already in the stores, and I see it growing even more. How long will it be before that refill pouch shrinks down to be the everyday use package, replacing the bottle entirely?
To look even farther out into the future I would suggest looking toward packaging in Asian market. Many of their food and beverage items are already in flexible type of packaging. This is evident when viewing the selections in the vending machines. The products for sale in them are convenient, single use and mostly packaged in flexible films. With the Global Economy continuing to grow, so will the packaging influence from other regions to the manufacturers in the US, along with the acceptance of the consumer.
Keep thinking outside of the “Box” and into a pouch! 🙂
Source–Industrial Packaging–Packaging Trends To Watch For 2018 David Roberge on October 5th, 2017
Charles D. Yuska, President and CEO of PMMI. PMMI Media Group is a market-leading B2B media company that produces information for processing and packaging professionals, bringing together solution providers and end-users and facilitating connectivity throughout the supply chain.
In Addition to clean labeling, 2018 is the current set year for the transition to new FDA nutritional labeling regulations for foods. Understanding the FDA regulations for food labeling requirements is an absolute must. Know what nutritional content for the ingredients in your food product, the serving size, expiration dates and the placement requirements for your package. The FDA began updating the nutrition labeling guidelines for the first time in 20 years, and if your product is already on the market, it is in your best interest to plan on aligning your nutrition labeling with the updated rules soon. Make sure you are clear on what is required to be on your packaging and labeling before you go to market with new foods. If you aren’t confident in compliance, finding a food labeling consultant is never a bad idea. Though the FDA has pushed back the new labeling requirement deadlines a few times already (and it looks like it may be doing so again), it is better to err on the side of caution and be prepared.
As new medical devices are introduced to the market in ever-increasing numbers, it also becomes increasing critical to have effective, concise, brand identity-oriented messaging on their labels and packaging. Between sterile barrier issues, tamper indicating features, and FDA mandated label information, ensuring that the label and package both complement and advance a device manufacturers brand identity becomes more difficult and problematic. That’s why a label printer with industry experience and a team in place who knows how to balance the competing issues is critical for quality, cost effective, and compliant labeling systems.
When I first got started in the industry decades ago, function and compliance were pretty much the overriding features of many device labels. Much like the story of railroad tracks being almost the exact same width as Roman war chariot wheels, patient label sets are still almost all a half inch tall per unit. Why? Dot matrix printers printed 6 lines of info per inch and patient labels needed three lines. One of the first attempts of making a label for a medical device that actually had some decent graphics on it was the Medtronic Spectrax line of pacemakers circa 1980 or so. It was a stretch for we flexo printers because not only was the harvest / sunset motif printed in fairly complex (for the time) four color process, but it was also perforated and had pinfeed holes for the above mentioned dot matrix printers. Because of issues of that nature, getting input from your label supplier on what exactly can be achieved using the current technology is critical. A confession: At the time I may have not been the best guy to ask about color and marketing issues. In a meeting, a couple of the design / marketing types keep talking about the color teal. I will admit to having had no clue at that time as to what the hell color teal was and asked for help. When one of the incredulous designers said, “You don’t know what teal is?” I thought the question was posed in a bit too condescending of a manner and told him that I had harvested and eaten a number of blue wing and green wing teal ducks over the years and had to guess it was some sort of blue /green blend. This provoked a fairly even split of hilarity and incredulity among the meeting attendees, but it was actually kind of fun. I am still not the go-to guy by any means on that kind of thing, but we have the people on the aforementioned label team who are.
As brand identity becomes more sophisticated and important, is also has more and more of an impact of labeling, especially with real estate being at a premium. Corporate branding and thick guides that are published on correct and proper usage of logos on printed media are now the norm. ‘Making it pretty’ is not that simple even on food, hard goods, and consumer packaging but on terminally sterilized medical device packages it is significantly more complex. Sometimes I think it is instructive to think of certain processes backwards. When I teach rolling as a sea kayak instructor, I always begin with the position a person is in when they are coming out of the water and back to upright. It just seems to work better because if people know what it feels like to successfully complete the roll at the end, it becomes easier to visualize when going over into the water on the front end. With a device package, the “finish” is usually when the shelf carton hits the garbage in pre-op and the device gets dumped from the tray or pouch into the sterile field. A number of nurses panels have proven that the only thing the OR nurses really look at is whether it is indeed the correct device and that package integrity is maintained. Going back a step from that is the warehouse in the hospital that needs everything clearly marked and legible for storage. One more step back to hospital sourcing and we begin to find brand identity to differentiate between competing devices and put the device manufacturers expertise and reputation at the forefront. Going further back to stores or finished goods inventory at the med dev manufacturer and legibility and ease of picking product are important.
The other important item is when devices come back from the hospital for restock. A robust and well-designed tamper indicating label on the packages can save serious dollars by preventing unnecessary repackaging and resterlization costs. On the manufacturing floor, ease of adding variable data, be it via thermal transfer or laser printing, is very important for good throughput on the line. Which brings us to the genesis of the whole process, label design.
Design for a new device label should involve all the players from the design engineers, packaging engineers, marketing and branding, regulatory affairs, and (sometimes forgotten) the people who are actually going to have to execute the design, your friendly label printer. If we label printers actually have that 2” thick ‘corporate style guideline’ we can help to incorporate those guidelines into a functional package. If you want a good yet cynical overview of this process, read my Label Haiku blog post from about four years ago. Things have not changed much, but we have all learned how to operate and gain some elbow room in the haiku situation. Gordie Howe of the Detroit Red Wings would tell you he wasn’t mean or vindictive, he was just trying to create some room to operate efficiently. One of our more effective techniques to create room within corporate guidelines (other than elbows and butt ends) is the rapid prototyping process. With a combination of digital printing and magnetic die tooling, we can create samples of the label project on the exact material with the exact diecuts. This is both cost-effective and can compress the timeline of getting the finished product to market. Someone one told me those two things were fairly important, haha. Extended content labels can increase the amount of text and verbiage and create that needed extra space as well. Symbols, both EN 980 and ones created by the device manufacturer, can also be very useful for space conservation.
If the project managers, engineers, and marketing folks at the device manufacturers can put their heads together with the our AWT project managers, engineers, and prepress / press experts, the combination is pretty much as unstoppable as Gordie Howe planted in the crease in his prime. We have a process in place, a successful process over the years, and are ready to help create a cost-effective and timeline-friendly terminally sterilized device package.
At AWT Labels & Packaging, we don’t simply print labels and flexible packaging; we also provide a customized and personalized experience for our customers. We understand that each packaging project is different and because of that, our experienced sales team and project managers work hand-in-hand with our research and development team to ensure that all new label and packaging requirements are executed seamlessly. When it comes to selecting the most effective materials, our sales team and project managers collaborate with AWT’s dedicated sourcing experts for recommendations.
Have new product launches or product line roll outs? We can help organize the timing and delivery to your designated production facility.
Struggling with selecting the right material construction? Are you holding a finished product sample of a label or flexible packaging construction that you need to replicate, but don’t know how it’s composed? We can help! It’s not uncommon for our customers to begin a project in which all they have to go on is a physical sample, without knowing how it came to be in the first place. Fortunately, our sales team, project managers and R&D team collaborate to serve as “detective scientists” who can dissect the structure and crack the code on its composition.
Need prototypes? We have you covered! Once the design and materials are confirmed, we can take your finished graphics and print (or simply print blank) mockups and prototypes to give you a feel for the application before the entire project goes to print.
Need troubleshooting help? If you’re stuck with inventory of previously printed containers with outdated information on them, our team can engineer a shrink sleeve with updated graphics to make the product salable. Also, if your current labels or flexible packaging structures simply aren’t functioning properly, our team will help you identify the problem’s origin and will pose a solution.
Have a specialty label/flex pack request? Our business development team oversees labels and flexible packaging projects for many markets, including medical, household, beauty, food and beverage, OEM/industrial and specialty. Your unique challenge is our exciting opportunity!
Need to hit an exact color or know what the “perfect” color will look like on your material? We’ve got you covered! We will provide ink drawdowns and suggestions on how to achieve your color.
Beginning a new label or flexible packaging project can be overwhelming if you don’t have experienced and dedicated support to help execute the project. At AWT Labels & Packaging, we pride ourselves in our ability to strategize, organize and have fun while helping your team through the label/packaging conversion process. Contact us to get started on your next project.
Sustainability is a real movement for change, both in what we do and how we look at things. The earth has limited resources and as its inhabitants, it’s our responsibility to reduce our negative impact on these resources. AWT is committed to helping create a sustainable world not only by implementing eco-friendly practices within our building, but also in the label/flexible packaging solutions we provide to our customers.
At AWT, it’s not only about maintaining the environment. It’s also about economic, financial and social responsibility. They go hand-in-hand, playing an integral role in how we run our business, make decisions and live our lives. Did you know that reducing energy usage can significantly reduce utility expenses? Plus, the more people get on board with using ecofriendly materials, the more the costs will go down to buy said materials. AWT is focused on sustaining our environment, and we employ several practices that reduce our impact:
As a flexographic printer and converter, AWT is committed to ensuring that operations are environmentally sound and that all relevant regulations are applied. In fact, AWT’s passion for creating an environmentally conscious business has earned us “Great Printer” status by the Printing Industry Midwest, for meeting and exceeding their environmental audit points. Our commitment to reduce our impact on the environment continues to grow daily.
Contact us to see how we can help with your next eco-friendly project!