Creating Efficient Pallet Labeling Systems

Pallets are an essential part of modern supply chains. Statistics show that 1.8 billion pallets are currently in service in the United States where they are used to transport materials and products across the supply chain until they eventually reach the consumer. Given the widespread use of pallets, it isn't uncommon for industrial companies to send out a high number of pallets on a daily basis. However, without the proper tools, creating and loading these pallets for shipment can be labor-intensive and time-consuming. 

Between stacking pallets, wrapping the shipment, and developing/placing labels, manual pallet preparation can take hours to complete and is physically intense work; this can lead to a bottleneck on the production line as well during output. Fortunately, this isn’t the only way to prepare a pallet shipment. Advanced tools like pallet conveyors and robotic palletizers automate shipment creation to reduce time and lower labor requirements. 

Within automated palletizing, pallet labeling systems play a key role. For organizations with a high number of pallets, well-made and applied labels are indispensable for organizational and transportational purposes. Pallet labeling systems ensure that this information is both correct and properly placed. Here’s how they work:

What Is a Pallet Labeling System and How Are They Used?

Pallet labeling systems are industrial-strength applicators that are designed to address the needs of palletized product shipments. Pallet labeling systems, such as the Evolabel® print and apply labeler, automatically create labels and place them onto shipments in a manner that complies with standards like GS1 and BFDBTF. Accordingly, they are placed at the end of automated production lines so they can label shipments after they have been palletized and shrink wrapped.

Although certain specifics will differ from model to model, pallet labeling systems generally consist of four elements:

  1. Printer: This element creates the label that will be applied to the pallet.

  2. Applicator: The applicator applies the label to the pallet. Applicators come in many different forms. Certain systems use tactical arms that extend to directly place the adhesive label to the shipment. Other applicators utilize blow-on systems that apply labels by propelling them with bursts of air.

  3. Media/Media Handling: The media refers to the label stock and thermal transfer ribbon—in other words, label-making materials. The media handling delivers these materials to the printer for label creation.

  4. Computer: Modern pallet labeling systems offer easy line integration thanks to internal computers. Programs like Evolabel API allow users to fully control the system through external software programs, enabling remote use and enterprise-wide database access.

Why Automate the Pallet Shipment Process?

Pallet labeling systems are just one element of automated palletization. Accompanied by robotic palletizers and conveyors, these systems enable warehouse operations to increase efficiency while minimizing labor requirements. Without automation, pallet shipments require significant time to complete and strain workers through these steps:

  1. Workers must construct the shipment by hand, strategically stacking boxes in a way that is geometrically stable and in compliance with dimensional standards regarding weight, width, and height.

  2. The shipment must be tightly wrapped in plastic film to ensure that it remains stable during transit.

  3. The pallet needs to be labeled with all of the appropriate shipping information that ensures it travels from point A to point B in a proper fashion.

Together, these steps can take upwards of an hour to complete manually. For operations that only need to make one or two pallet shipments a day, manual palletizing can be cost-effective. However, for larger companies that send multiple shipments a day, manual labor is simply unsustainable. In these cases, automation is essential to boosting productivity, and automated labeling plays a key role.

The Benefits of a Pallet Labeling System

While small scale businesses and warehouses can sustain manual palletization, manual labeling becomes a liability for industrial size operations due to:

  1. The amount of time required to design, print, and place labels by hand increases risk for injury.

  2. The possibility of mislabeling a pallet increases as the amount of daily shipments rise thus risking compromising the shipment.

A well-integrated pallet labeling system not only provides a solution to these problems but also offers a host of advantages, including:

  • Improved Efficiency: Pallet labeling systems complete automated palletizing lines. Through automation, shipments can be created and completed at a much faster rate with less human oversight. This frees time for workers to focus on other issues and boost their productivity.

  • Human Error Reduction: Manual label placement inevitably opens the path to human error. Labels can be placed poorly leading to adhesive issues, unscannable codes, or unreadable text. In other cases, workers could mix up labels and place the incorrect label on a shipment. Both of these mistakes lead to shipment errors, inventory problems, and other logistical nightmares.

    An integrated labeling system ensures accurate placement with the correct label which eliminates the risk of human error.

  • Issue Detection: Error-detecting technology can be used in conjunction with pallet labeling systems to discover issues before they become major problems. These features include:

    • Incomplete-palate detection

    • Barcode validation

    • Motion sensors that detect human presence

  • Real-Time Information: Integrated systems automatically update information within the enterprise computer system. This allows pallet data to be as accurate and current as possible.

Make Your Production More Efficient with the Help of InkJet, Inc.

Pallet labeling systems allow warehouse operations to become more efficient and less prone to errors. At InkJet, Inc., we develop labeling systems with a variety of Evolabel products that meet the needs of different industries and line configurations. With more than 30 years of experience in industrial printing and ink development, we have the expertise necessary to help your operation find the best marking solution—call today to get started.

For more information on pallet labeling systems and warehouse automation contact InkJet, Inc. online or by phone at 1(800) 280-3245.