Start Expert advises Which label to choose for reusable boxes?
Which label to choose for reusable boxes?

Which label to choose for reusable boxes?

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Logistics and warehousing with specialised labels

In recent years, we have been paying more and more attention to environmental care. Both at the level of households and manufacturing companies. As a result, the amount of waste generated is reduced and the life time of individual products is extended. The importance of recycling in the production of new products is also increasing.

Therefore, reusable packaging (used especially in logistics and warehousing of products) plays an increasingly important role at the enterprise level. Plastic packaging is the most popular. They are associated with little environmental protection, however, the result in the form of their multiple use is generally less harmful to the environment than packaging made of cardboard.

Environmental protection is an important consideration, but certainly not the only one and not the most important one in the decision concerning the choice of packaging for production and storage purposes. An important role in industry is also played by the durability of packaging and proper protection of the product. This is why plastic crates as reusable packaging are becoming more and more popular. In the case of the food industry, an additional advantage of using plastic containers is the fact that they are certified for direct contact with food. Such containers have long been used in the logistics of FMCG products (e.g. meat, bread).

Automatic storage – what the picking process in an intelligent warehouse looks like

More and more warehouses and logistics processes are automated. They are often operated by robots, such as autonomous trucks (AGVs) or conveyor belt assemblies, which require dimensionally stable or standardised packaging. Many picking processes in large warehouses are based on plastic crates. Sometimes it is not possible to use other than plastic packaging because of the processes carried out during the rotation of the crates. An example is the food industry, where packaging returning to the manufacturer is subjected to rigorous cleaning and sterilization processes.

The circuit must be closed, so the packaging must circulate from the manufacturer, through the logistics operator, to the recipient and back. It would be good to know:

  • How many packages are in circulation?
  • Where are they?
  • and what is their status?

However, in order for this process to work, we need to choose the right, durable labeling and the right system. Permanent self-adhesive labelling in this case concerns both the correct material of the label and the correct printing parameters.

What must a correctly printed label on a reusable packaging contain?

  • 1D or 2D code
  • Number in the form of characters
  • Logo or name of the owner.

Since each box has to be labelled with a unique number, the printing is most often carried out using thermal transfer technology with a resin ribbon of the appropriate quality, using printers for logistic labels. The advantage of this technology is that the printing can be done just before the label is applied to the boxes.

To ensure that the code is always in the field of view of the reader, we recommend that the boxes are marked with two labels on opposite sides. This will avoid additional operations associated with the correct placement of boxes on the pallet, shelf, transporter. It may happen that for some reason one of the codes is not readable. The second one is always available, which will allow us to complete the logistic process.

 

Which label to choose for reusable boxes?

 

The role of self-adhesive labels in automated logistics marking

 

As mentioned above, the marking ensures the proper functioning of the system, so it must be made of quality materials and have the right adhesive. Only a properly selected marking will guarantee that it will withstand the picking and logistics process of the boxes and will not detach itself from its surface.

The material from which the label is made is usually polyester or vinyl foil. The glue is of great importance when selecting the label material for boxes. Most crates are made of plastic, the surface of which has low energetic properties, that is, those to which it is difficult to stick something permanently. In our laboratory we can simulate the conditions in which the box will function and the chemical agents to which it will be exposed during the washing and sterilization processes. As a result, we can choose a logistic marking that is durable and has the right adhesive to the given surface.

 

What labels should be used to mark reusable boxes?

 

  •  “thin” labels with overprint. Standard foil label with a properly selected adhesive. This is the cheapest solution when the surface of the box is flat;
  • multilayer labels for indoor use, with an overprint. Used where the label application point is rough and there is a need to increase the adhesion of the label surface to the box. The foam applied evenly fills all surface irregularities, which increases the label’s adhesion to the box. Such a solution ensures that the label remains flat, which increases the aesthetic value of the marking and the quality of code reading,
  • multilayer labels for use in extreme conditions ( with overprint). Used when the box is exposed to extreme conditions and goes through the washing process with aggressive chemicals under high pressure and at high temperature. This marking is resistant to weather conditions and UV radiation. The use of foam ensures that the top layer of the label remains flat, even when the label is applied to an uneven surface.

 

Ways of marking boxes using labels printed with RFID technology for reading

 

The use of RFID technology allows to read multiple box numbers at the same time. In addition, RFID technology, depending on the system, gives the possibility to record additional information. If the boxes are marked only by codes, we do not have such a possibility.

  1. “thin” labels with overprint and RFID tag. The cheapest solution, used in cases where the place where the label is applied to the box guarantees that the RFID tag will not be accidentally damaged mechanically.
  2. multilayer labels for internal applications, with RFID tag and overprint. In addition to the benefits described above, the foam used protects the tag chip from damage and makes the tag antenna practically invisible.
  3. multi-layered labels for extreme conditions with RFID tag and overprint

The special foam used ensures that the system operates correctly even with multiple box circulation through logistics and cleaning processes. The foam protects against accidental damage to the chip.

 

RFID solutions

 

The possibilities and advantages of using RFID technology for the stock-taking of boxes will be described in a separate article.

Solutions dedicated to individual logistic needs of the customer

We provide not only the right choice of specialist labels for marking reusable packaging, but also printers for printing labels, code readers, solutions based on RFID technology.  We are able to adapt our system solutions to the logistic processes of our customers. We support them by implementing dedicated systems supporting production and warehouse processes.

Taking into account the complexity of processes at the customer’s premises (including the fact that box markings must be durable and ensure the operation of the system for their stock-taking for many years), we know how important it is to properly identify the customer’s needs. Therefore, our project teams put great emphasis on understanding the customer’s needs and expectations regarding the system’s operation.

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Aleksander Wolny Tied with Etisoft for the last 25 years, currently as a Product Development Dept. manager. Specialist and innovator in new solutions for product marking. Participated in numerous trainings led by our suppliers on consumables and Auto ID equipment. Graduated from Mechanical and Energy Engineering department on Silesian Technical University. Plays a guitar, enjoys rock music and handball.
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