Category Archives: Ravenwood Times

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

2017 Ravenwood WorldCon Post Event Review

This year’s Annual Conference was held in the new build of our HQ in Suffolk. During recent years, we have mostly hosted the event off site due to the accelerated growth of our Distributor network. So with the new build complete, it was great to be able to welcome our delegates back to Ravenwood again, allowing us the opportunity to show off our new offices, meeting rooms, workshops and training areas!

The event proved to be our busiest and most successful to date.  Day one welcomed machine distributors and day two, our printer partners.  Agendas for both days included machine demonstrations and presentations from both Ravenwood staff members and industry key note speakers.

Many machines were on demo including our new game-changing VXR system, unveiled at Pro2Pac. The ‘end of line’ solution provider to meet the food industry’s stringent requirements! The VXR boasts 3 technologies incorporated into just 1.9 metres. And our Comac Coater, designed to work with our Nobac 500 flagship linerless label applicator was also on proud display. The Comac allows for the application of multiple release and adhesive lines, coating the labels with silicone on the front and adhesive on the back.

Our Partners in vision and x-ray provided an insight into our new VXR system which boasts ‘Sapphire’ carbon nanotube field emission technology. Delegates were also informed of the latest in Coater developments and Ravenwood staff presented updates on key areas of the business including sales, service, parts and marketing.

Evening entertainment was laid on at our MD’s (Paul Beamish), motorcycle emporium – Krazy Horse. It was here that we presented awards to our ‘Distributors of the Year’ based on sales and overall performance. GH Ulma scooped the title of ‘Machine Distributor 2017’ and WS Packaging for ‘Printer Distributor 2017’.  Winifried Hamann, Head of IM EMEA – RC Silicones at Evonik was also presented with an award for his long service and dedication to Ravenwood and linerless. Winifried retires this year and we wish him well! Each were presented with a set of three cast metal flying pigs – a retrospective take on the ‘Three Flying Ducks’.

Overall the event proved to be engaging, entertaining and most importantly an education.

For further information, email Natalie or Sarah at marketing@ravenwood.co.uk.

Ravenwood Packaging
Raveneer Jez providing an update on ‘The Bigger Picture’
Raveneer Jez (left) featured with team Evonik at Krazy Horse! Winifried Hamann pictured 2nd left.

Pro2Pac 2017 Raveneer’s Post Event Update

The Pro2Pac food and drink packaging exhibition at ExCeL London has been hailed as a roaring success!

Packaging professionals from across the land including retailers, restaurateurs and caterers, as well as a host of FMCG companies descended on Pro2Pac to discover the very latest pioneering technology and cutting-edge innovations.  More than 120 exhibitors were in attendance, including leading global names such as Tetra Pak, Fischbein-Saxon, Coveris, Henkelman and non other than linerless gurus, Ravenwood Packaging.

The Ravenwood stand attracted a whole host of visitors from many different realms, most notably from the UK, Singapore, Turkey, Poland, Chile and Spain. We showcased three of our Nobac applicators with each applying linerless to skin pack, MAP and ready meal formats. And taking centre stage for its grand unveiling was the almighty VXR System, our very latest game-changing innovation!

Our Raveneers reported an extremely busy show. The Fauxlafels slept for three whole days after returning home to Ravenwood Towers. Read all about the new VXR system here.

For further information, email Natalie or Sarah at marketing@ravenwood.co.uk.

Ravenwood Packaging at Pro2Pac
Our Raveneers and the Fauxlafels of course enjoying a great show at Pro2Pac!