Co-operation between packaging industry players Advanced Labelling Systems and Field-First Label Access, part of the Field Group, has resulted in the development of an innovative new labelling solution for chilled and ready meal applications.
Tray-fix is a combined label and machinery based solution and, say the two companies, presents a robust alternative to traditional carton board sleeves that are commonly used to provide product information at a much reduced start-up cost.
The label produced at Field First - Label Access, is made from lightweight carton board and is UV flexo printed in a range of colours. This is said to provide the advantage of improved shelf impact in the ever-competitive chilled display supermarket cabinets.
The two companies say that the Tray-fix label is automatically applied directly to the container's film lid, which prevents any movement and the possibility of the sleeve being switched or falling off in transit. As the edges of the label are perforated, the film lid can be peeled away during cooking, whilst the ingredients and instructions remain on the pack. In addition, recipe cards, coupons or other promotional items can be incorporated within the label.
ALS, with sites in Thame, Oxon and Dublin, Ireland, has developed an automatic labelling system that has the ability to handle 60 trays per minute, which is significantly faster and more cost effective than the hand collation of carton board sleeves. Although developed for all manufacturers, at a third of the cost of an equivalent sleeving machine, it also presents an opportunity for the smaller, specialist producers to compete with the industry giants, for consumer attention the company claims.
The machine system can handle the standard D2 thermo-formed tray and can be quickly modified to accommodate other sizes. The system can be integrated with an existing packing line or can be provided as a stand-alone unit.
The companies also claim that the system is compact and robust enough to be mobile and moved around a factory, with short set-up times. An in-built memory bank feature allows multiple label/product combination settings to be stored and recalled at the touch of a button.
Previously not possible with traditional sleeves, the labelling system offers the manufacturer the choice of label positioning on the pack. In addition to being centralised, the Tray-fix label can be configured to be accurately applied off-set in any direction along the pack, to show more of the product. The user can enter a plus or minus figure in millimetres on the integrated keypad and because the label is self-adhesive, it won't move afterwards.
The two companies have worked together on a number of joint ventures as Phil Donaldson, ALS' sales & marketing director, explained: "This again highlights our ability to work along-side the best in the packaging industry and again, Label Access have come up with a superb product. Our close working relationship with them has ensured that although this is a new machine, it has been extensively tested and trialled, so that we can give it our standard fully comprehensive 2-Year on-site warranty. Our previous work in the food industry has given us great experience and the ALS Tray-fix labeller conforms to exacting food grade standards. We offer the flexibility of either leasing a system or outright purchase on a quick turn-around."
Andy Walter, managing director at Label Access, said: "This ground-breaking label and machinery solution allows food manufacturers to cost effectively overcome the shortcomings associated with traditional carton board sleeves. It also offers a wide range of marketing opportunities for large and small producers alike."