Category Archives: Machinery

Avoid Recalls with the VXR® – the ‘end of line solution provider’

We live in a world where packaging regulations are constantly evolving. Supermarkets are demanding improved quality, 100% error-free labelling and a marked reduction in recalls – placing increased pressure on suppliers. But the good news is, our new game-changer, the VXR® will not only meet these demands but will outperform manual operations for a fully streamlined process. The VXR is the ‘end of line solution provider’.

When combining its three technologies, the key functionality of the VXR system, is to identify and reject food trays that are seen to contain errors. Vision inspection and ‘Sapphire’ carbon nanotube field emission technology will resolve these issues. ‘Sapphire’ is a leading technology in the field of x-ray, boasting low energy, high speeds and resolution for unparalleled performance.

VXR USPs

  • Total inspection incorporated into just 1.9 m
  • Avoid damaging press coverage and extortionate costs resulting from recalls
  • Eliminate human error
  • Reduce labour
  • Increase production times
  • High speed user-friendly interface for rugged factory environments
  • Benefit from multiple changes between products
  • Machines are built bespoke to feature just one of these technologies or all three for total control (x-ray must be incorporated if including seal check)
  • Faultless linerless labels and unrivalled quality control when linking to our Nobac 500 sleever

Vision

  • Identifies and rejects errors enabling operator-free end-of-line automation
  • Automatically detects faulty labels, printing errors and poor quality print
  • Analyses label position, quantity and orientation
  • Checks for barcodes, use-by dates and traceability codes

X-Ray

  • Heightened sensitivity for detecting a broad range of dense mass and contaminates
  • Identifies ‘common’ foreign bodies such as glass, metal, ceramics including all types of bone
  • Products are cast aside and placed into the removable reject bin

Seal Check

  • Checks for a secure seal on all food trays
  • Detects for contaminants in the seal including foods that have ‘slipped’
  • Locates for the correct position of the product in the tray
  • ‘Counts’ number of products in a tray; i.e. meatballs, burgers and sausages
  • X-ray functionality must be incorporated for seal check

2016 Food Recalls due to Foreign Matter & Contaminants

According to Food Safety Magazine, in 2016 they counted 764 food recalls, a 22 percent surge compared to 2015. Of that total were 44 foreign matter recalls. Pieces of glass, metal, plastic, rubber and wood were amongst some of the culprits found. Foods affected by these recalls included meat, fruit and even ice cream.

Video Footage and PR

See the VXR in action below on our YouTube channel>

 

VXR
VXR – Vision, Xray and Seal Check Technology

 

VXR
VXR – rear of the machine displayed with the back panel opened (closed when in operation)

 

VXR
VXR – Faultless linerless labels and unrivalled quality control when linked to our Nobac 500 sleever

For further information, contact Marketing on +44 (0) 1284 749144 or email marketing@ravenwood.co.uk. Read all about the launch of VXR at Pro2pack!

Ravenwood Grow Linerless Market

At its annual congress, Ravenwood introduced new technologies and marketing initiatives designed to grow its share of the global linerless label market. Andy Thomas reports.

Outside of logistics applications, the global market share of linerless labels has not moved much in the last decade – despite the clear sustainability advantages of the technology.

Perhaps the main reason has been the requirement for end users to adopt specialist application machinery which is able to apply a label without peeling it from a backing liner.

UK-based Ravenwood, however, has achieved enormous success in the linerless label market by ‘closing the loop’ between linerless label production and application. The company operates a licensing system which includes the whole linerless supply chain from specialist materials to coating equipment and application equipment for the end user. The whole system is supported by Ravenwood certified engineers and by intensive training of licensees to ensure a standard, consistent and predictable product is delivered at the end of the packaging line. Currently over 1,000 applicator machines are installed worldwide.

Ravenwood has grown around 20 percent year-on-year since the 2009 crash and today 35 million linerless prime labels a week are produced on its machines by global brands and retailers.

Ravenwood was founded in 2004 by Paul Beamish, who had previously worked at SE Labels and then Skanem, both linerless pioneers. The company has recently expanded its headquaters in Bury St Edmunds. The building contains showroom, of ces, training facilities and R&D, and was the location for this year’s congress, bringing together suppliers, printers and distributors.

Ravenwood linerless ‘labels’ do not have to be adhesive backed – some of the company’s most successful products are ‘slideable’ sleeves supplied on the roll. Printed onto thicker materials, up to 300gsm and at sizes up to 500mm x 225mm, they are designed to replace cardboard sleeves on trays sealed with clear film, as typically seen in the ready meals market. The sleeves are applied on Ravenwood’s Nobac 500 series applicators.

Paul Beamish says these linerless label/sleeves are up to 30 percent more sustainable than cardboard sleeves. ‘And our products are flexo printed, which is as good quality as litho-printed cartons, and they retain their image right the way through the supply chain.’

Other Nobac machines can apply ‘Skin pack’ labels and can be attached to weigh scales to deliver complete fixed or variable weight packaging solutions. The latest addition to the Nobac line is the 500R, which applies a full ready meal wrap in format sizes up to 225mm.

A constant problem facing Ravenwood and its licensees is ‘non-approved’ labels, either pirated labels which ‘look’ like the real thing, or cheaper substitutes bought outside the authorized supplier network.

‘Pirated or non-approved labels do not work well on our applicators and at the end of the day these copies are of poor paper and adhesive quality,’ said Paul Beamish.

‘The production manager often won’t know that the buyer has cut corners and purchased these sub-standard labels and when things go wrong, many are quick to blame the applicator. Our engineers provide ongoing support and can spot these poor quality labels instantly, proving that any downtime or product recalls are as a direct result of these inferior copies. So going forward, we are now placing more emphasis on marketing and promoting our approved network of machine suppliers, printers and partners to emphasize the importance of using Ravenwood linerless labels.’

New developments

Ongoing material and machinery developments are key USPs for Ravenwood and the company works closely with its supply chain to identify areas for improvement.

Innovia, Ashland, Evonik and Henkel were present to talk about new developments in materials, silicone and hotmelt adhesives.

Explained Beamish, ‘We are being forced to go faster and faster, which is why we spend so much time working on materials, and why we need to make sure printers are using the latest materials.’

A high quality print surface is particularly important, said Beamish. ‘Dive characteristics and adhesive/silicone relationship are crucial. You could buy any paper but find the adhesive will be sucked in and the silicone relationship is wrong so the labels don’t release properly, and that in turn affects the machines. It is vital to guarantee 120 packs a minute, and this needs the whole chain to be working together.’

A wide range of application machinery was on show at the event, including the new VXR end-of-line quality control system. It detects contaminants and checks both label accuracy and tray seals, all within a 1.9m footprint. The x-ray inspection system uses leading edge Sapphire carbon nanotube field emission technology. The whole unit is food safe. Also introduced at the congress was a new flexible packaging variation of the linerless sleeve system.

What of the future? Paul Beamish sees major opportunities in direct thermal linerless labels supplied on the reel for logistics applications using handheld printers. And there are many more products which could be handled on the Nobac applicators, including fresh foods like cress, and fresh meat and fish, which require special coatings to enhance shelf life.

Primary linerless labeling, in 8-9 colors and using value-added materials is another area for development.

Linerless coater

For the label converter, the core production technology is the Ravenwood Comac coater, designed to coat silicone and adhesive in a form compatible with the Nobac range of applicators.

The Comac applies multiple lines of release and adhesive between 3-25mm wide, coating labels with silicone on the front and adhesive on the back at speeds up to 450fpm (137m/min).

The labels can be printed on both sides before silicone and adhesive coating. The silicone sits on top of a special lacquer developed for linerless, and the laquer and silicone together act as a protective layer against UV, moisture and chemicals.

New Comac developments announced at the congress include the ability to run digital media. Ravenwood is also looking to add flexo units for varnish and reverse print, as well as potentially a slot coater and chill rolls so thermal materials can be run.

‘We are looking at new coat heads for more accurate coat levels,’ said Paul Beamish. ‘We now have on board an industry professional who says he can measure glue weight on clear film more accurately.’

Marcus Greenbrook, international sales manager at GEW, explained to delegates the N2 nitrogen inerting system used on the Comac silicone coating station. A nitrogen blanket reduces oxygen in the chamber to 50PPM, preventing it inhibiting the silicone curing process. ‘We control web movement into the chamber so we can get the gap much closer and stop oxygen being dragged in,’ said Greenbrook. The result is decrease of odor and migration – key for food grade applications – and the ability to cure at a lot lower power levels.’

Continued Greenbrook, ’Our Rhino power supply gives us better control of the UV system and reduces nitrogen consumed compared to older systems.’ UV output monitoring is integrated into the E2C lamphead, with up to seven sensors mounted across length of the lamp. GEW is now looking at closed loop control of lamp output based on sensor readings, said Greenbrook.

Ravenwood will be exhibiting at Labelexpo Europe. Visit the Label Expo website.

The above article was written by Andy Thomas, Strategic Director at Labels & Labeling and is featured in the June/July issue of Labels & Labeling. Flip to page 49 and read the online article.

Ravenwood Packaging
Ravenwood Packaging

Ravenwood Com500 Coater for Failsafe Linerless Labels

The Ravenwood Com500 coating machine is the only coater dedicated to running Ravenwood linerless labels. In this blog update we reveal the workings and processes for producing this type of label.

What is Linerless?

A linerless label is a pre-printed pressure sensitive label that does not feature liner or backing paper. The labels are wound on a roll and feature a silicone strip applied to the top, to prevent the adhesive from the underside sticking to the label below. A coating machine applies the adhesive and silicone, the process which makes a label ‘linerless’.

Com500 Coater Functionality

Standing at 4 metres wide by 2 metres deep and 2.7 metres high, the Com500 coater is suitably imposing. The coater is designed and manufactured in the UK to work in accordance with Ravenwoods’ Linerless system. The primary purpose of the machine is to apply silicone and hot melt adhesive to pre-printed labels, therefore resulting in a ‘linerless’ label. Variable line widths are achieved including the functionality to match up to 12 different glue application heads. Furthermore, the coater can also slit and rewind multiple lanes into finished reels, attainable in just one pass at speeds of 135 metres per minute. Once the silicone and adhesive are applied, the oxygen controlled inert chamber rapidly cures the reel by way of UV.  And it’s this process that’s considered the most important aspect for delivering high quality linerless labels, aside from glue and silicone quality. The finished reels are then wound on the ‘three shaft turreting system’ to the customer’s required configuration.

Com500 Operation

The The HMI (Human Machine Interface) makes for easy to navigate screens so operating the Com500 is simple and concise.  The dashboard controls the number of glue lines, glue weight, meterage on a completed reel including length and tension.

Linerless Application

The final stage of the linerless process sees the coated labels  applied to food packs with our Nobac 500 applicators. The Nobac 500 is our flagship applicator and was the first prototype to go into production when Ravenwood was founded back in 2004. Today’s ‘500’ is still based on the same design but due to shifts in buyer behavior and food packaging trends, we’ve steadily evolved with many machine variants now available. Over the years, the 500 has diversified and is capable of applying a multitude of different linerless label formats. Furthermore, we can adapt or create linerless labels to suit many packaging challenges on a range of materials including paper, film and card from 170 – 300gsm.

Call Brian today for Com500 machine quotes and lead times on (0)1284 749144 or email us at marketing@ravenwood.co.uk. We’re also happy to undertake R&D including contract coating at our Ravenwood HQ in Suffolk. Visit our coating page on our website www.ravenwood.co.uk.

Com500 Coater
Ravenwood Com500 Coater
Ravenwood Com500 Coater
Ravenwood Com500 Coater

Cracking the Code on Linerless Labels

In food labeling, coding and marking equipment plays a small but vital role in supporting adding ‘need-to-know’ information about the product itself. ‘Best Before’ or ‘Use By’ dates including batch numbers, product weights and barcodes form some of the information that is needed to be incorporated into end-of-line labeling.

The Challenges 

The food packaging landscape today means that stringent regulations must be followed to meet consumer health and safety. When things go wrong, the cost implications and damage to a brand can be devastating. A product is recalled when information is inaccurate, poorly displayed or if someone should fall ill or tragically die as a direct result. So when things take a turn for the worst, investigations need to be carried out. Batch codes are extremely useful and will assist in track and traceability. These clever codes link to a direct point in the production process, making clear each stage of the supply chain, helping to pin point where a particular process has failed.  For heightened quality control in terms of identifying contaminated produce, our latest game-changing technology, the VXR really packs a punch. The system combines vision, x-ray and seal check technology. Find out more on the VXR here>

Application

Ravenwood works with an approved supplier network to achieve the seamless integration of both linerless and coding technologies. Coders can be purchased as stand-alone machines although when ordering a Ravenwood Nobac 500, we strongly recommend that a coder is purchased alongside. The coding machines that we offer complement our linerless applicators, suiting all sizes of production lines. Even companies with multiple lines will benefit from printing at increased line speeds without ever missing a pack – regardless of throughput, build back and pack size.

Thermal Transfer Coding Technology

Thermal transfer overprinting is the established technology of choice for a wide range of coding applications. Compared to traditional contact coders such as hot-stamp or roller coders, thermal transfer overprinting offers superior print quality, economy and lower running costs. From label overprinting, to high speed digital coding on flexible packaging, thermal technology delivers fast print speeds, minimises downtime and ensures accurate display of critical data. And with fast moving lines and frequent changeovers, coding equipment offers a fail-safe step up from less flexible, non-digital methods. In the factory environment, hygiene requirements are also paramount and strict standards must be met. Coders that adopt ‘thermal inkjet technology’ feature stainless steel enclosures coupled with fast drying specialist inks proving invaluable when there is a risk of smudging through manual handling or where moisture is present.

When Less is More

Supermarket shelves are jam packed with many different brands all screaming for consumers’ attention. So it’s no surprise that brand owners utilise the packaging space to its optimum potential to increase shelf appeal and visual impact. This often results in the coding area to be very limited. By opting for thermal coding means that information can be printed and displayed accurately – even in the tightest of spaces.

Ravenwood supplies a diverse range of coding printing equipment from our approved supplier network. We can advise and recommend different options for printing various critical data on food labels and packaging. Contact us today to find out more or call us on +44 (0)1284 749144. We are currently in the process of building a new website and plan to have a dedicated page on Coding but until this time, please visit our current site here>

The ICE Vulcan Coding Machine
Diagram of the ICE ‘Vulcan’ Coding Machine – visit the Vulcan product page on the Ice website here

Welcome to the Magnificent World of the Ravenwood Nobac 500

The almighty Nobac 500 is Ravenwood’s flagship applicator and the first prototype to go into production when Ravenwood was founded in 2004. Today’s ‘500’ is still based on the same design but due to industry demands and changes in buyer behaviour over recent years, the company has evolved the original ‘500’ concept. Many machine variants are now available for applying a multitude of different linerless label formats.

What is Linerless?

Linerless has been around for over a decade now. The labels are unique in that they eliminate the need for wasteful, non-recyclable backing papers destined for landfill. Processing this waste proves both costly and time consuming. So the good news is, from a sustainability angle, this labelling is taking centre stage. And rightly so, as the world of packaging is going all out to be ‘seen as green’. Linerless labels are set to stick around – enlighten yourself further here : ’10 Reasons for Choosing Linerless Labels’ and ‘Food Packaging Trends – Prepare to See Green in 2017’.

‘500’ Flexible Formats

The Nobac 500 sleever is an inline machine, designed for maximum flexibility.  Quick changeovers between wrap formats are achieved by eliminating the need to turn the packs. The ‘500’ and its counterparts are also capable of applying sleeves in many different formats including:

  • Top
  • Top and Side
  • C-wrap
  • D-wrap
  • Full Wrap
  • Skin Pack
  • Skin Pack Protruding
  • Skin Pack Super Protruding – up to 100mm above the height of the tray
  • Ready Meal
  • Salami and Haggis

And what’s more, the ‘500’ offers great versatility in terms of label materials. These include board, paper and synthetic substrates. And by printing at the point of application, means that wasted printed labels on changeovers are greatly reduced. Ravenwood has also developed a twin-head machine for non-stop high speed labelling.

‘500’ Functionality

In addition to sleeving fixed weight products, there’s the added benefit of linking the ‘500’ to weigh scales. These scales allow for variable weight products as well as check weighing. It’s great that production speeds are not compromised in fixed weight mode.  Ranging from 100-140ppm is achievable, although much relies on tray size. And in variable weight systems, linking to the latest weigh scales over 100ppm is also possible.

‘500’ End of Line

Adding vital information such as expiry dates, weights and batch numbers are essential for providing detailed information about the product itself.  Additionally, bar codes are now crucial for track and traceability – worth every penny, especially when faced with costly product recalls. Ravenwood partner with an approved supplier network for printing this information by way of coding technology. With fast moving lines and frequent changeovers, coding equipment offers a fail-safe step up from less flexible, non-digital methods. And if you require RFID labels, Ravenwood offers Trojan technology as an ‘add-on’ machine as well.  The Trojan is an extremely small and cost effective label applicator. Both the Coder and Trojan are ideal for incorporating into end of line labelling requirements.

‘500’ Global Footprint

The Nobac 500 has been developed for today’s food retailers and packers and is the first choice of many high profile brands. With over 1,500 machines sold worldwide and in excess of 14 billion applications every year, you could say the ‘500’ is a global authority in the ‘Land of Linerless Labels’. Our labels can be found across Europe, Asia, America and Russia.

Customer Satisfaction Guaranteed

Our customers are privy to a complete support package. Servicing, parts and technical assistance come as standard with our field-based Raveneers always on standby.  Furthermore, we offer a break down and call-out service, should the need arise. And our well-stocked cupboard is bursting with spare parts which can be rushed to you on a next day delivery. Dedicated and bespoke training packages are also available.

To find our more on the Nobac 500 and other machine variants in the range, contact us or call us on 01284 749144.

Nobac 500
The almighty Nobac 500 Applicator