June’s machine of the month is a pair of ALcode print and apply machines recently installed within Secured Mail, one of the largest technology enabled e-commerce, retail and postal logistics businesses in the UK.
The two machines are configured in series with labels applied to the underside of the product, achieving a total throughput potential of more than 3,500 units p/h. As Secured Mail’s products vary from postcards to boxes, the underside application maintains a consistent application height, rather than applying at a variable height from above where the throughput speed would likely be reduced and/or the machine be far more complex to build and operate.
The solution uses ALTech’s innovative vacuum belt application system (self generated vacuum, with no outside requirement for compressed air) which delivers the label directly from the printer to the product. The label is unique for each package and printed in real time. it’s then fed between a two sections conveyor system and applied to the underside. Machines are mounted on extraction slides to allow them to be easily removed from the line for media loading or maintenance. The solution also has the ability to run at full operation speed with a single label head if required and is integrated within an automated ’tilt tray’ sorting system manufactured by Equinox MHE.
The vacuum belt is ideal for long labels, as the label dispense is synchronised with the rotating belt. It is extremely fast and able to start the print cycle for the next label immediately after the label is printed (rather than needing to wait for the label to be blown or a piston to return as is normally the case).
In this application the speed of print has been reduced to minimise printer wear and optimise the life of the print head; flexibility and variation is a further advantage of this vacuum belt labelling system.