To the surprise of some, the American owners of Sherman Treaters decided to close its UK and world headquarters, located some 30 miles north west of London. A corporate decision to consolidate its activities and move administration, sales and service to Germany opened the way for some ex-Sherman employees to form Corona Supplies Ltd. It was recently appointed as the official stockist and distributor for Sherman Treaters products throughout the UK, Ireland and Benelux countries. As many will know, the use of this technology on narrow web presses helps inks and coatings to adhere to plastic films, paper and foils. It also enhances the surfaces of cast and blown label and packaging films during wide web coating and lamination processes.
The owners of Corona Supplies include Stuart Greig, former sales director, UK sales manager Becky Stother and Stuart Moore, production manager. “As ex-Sherman employees, we felt that there was a significant gap in the market following the decision to close the Sherman Treaters offices,” says Greig. “We can offer spares and equipment sales and after-sales service to customers not only in the UK, but in other countries too. It’s backed by an experienced team boasting nearly 50 years in corona treatment.” He adds that continuity in respect of spare parts, surface tension test inks and pens, and ancillaries for existing equipment is a vital feature of the company’s business.
Corona Supplies operates from premises in Oakley, Buckinghamshire, a few miles from the original factory located in Thame, Oxfordshire. This facility originally served as Sherman’s main manufacturing center and was augmented by R&D and international sales departments. Phillip B. Sherman, who was born in the UK, established Sherman Treaters in the early 1970s. The company was acquired by the Glenview-based Illinois Tool Works (ITW) in 2001 and operated as a separate ITW division selling surface enhancement equipment in 57 countries. Group member Pillar Technologies of Hartland, WI, USA, now manufactures Sherman-branded equipment, as well as its own line of corona treaters.
The first application of the latest Gen 2 RFID technology at retail pallet level is being operated by the REWE Group in Germany. It has over 11,500 shops and 195,000 full-time employees, with food retailing as its core business. A pilot scheme at its Norderstedt distribution center involves the use of UHF Gen 2 inlays manufactured by UPM Rafsec. The group aims to strengthen its competitive advantage and market position by “optimizing the joint supply chain” with its suppliers. Up to 30 suppliers are involved in the pilot’s first phase. REWE is said to have bundled the projected need to one supplier in order to access quality RFID labels at a competitive price of 0.23 euros, or 27 US cents each.
REWE’s RFID intranet allows its partners to access a label pool and order the labels. There are two different label types available: a standard 4" x 6" label and the UPM Rafsec FlagTag. The latter was developed with Sato for tagging pallets with problematic content, including fluids, metal and glass. The label portion containing the UHF tag is folded so that it sticks out vertically from the pallet surface.
Even the best run label converting businesses accumulate rolls of unused materials or even pieces of equipment. They often retain some degree of value, but are usually trashed. As a rebuttal to this throw-away culture, a UK entrepreneur has created Recycle Depot (www.recycle depot.co.uk). It resembles eBay, but arguably offers better potential in this case because it is specifically targeted at the label, print and packaging industry to trade surplus and unwanted items.
“We had some experience running a small label business, and each year we had a clear-out of product returns, material off-cuts and end-of-line stock. We ended up throwing useable items in the skip or giving them away free to local schools,” said Brin Whitfield. “We estimated that others probably did this too, so we decided to create a marketplace where items could be sold easily and would only incur a cost upon sale of the items.”
Current items on offer include desktop printers, thermal transfer ribbons, paper rolls, self-adhesive label stock, a rotary numbering unit, and even a refurbished Xerox Docucolor 6060. The site operates on a “no-sale, no-fee” policy and items stay advertised as long as required. When the product is sold the customer pays a fee of 30 percent of the sale price, ranging from a minimum of £10 to a maximum of £100 ($173).
“To make it easy for the advertiser, we administer the adding of products to the site,” says Whitfield. “All the customer needs to do is fill in a simple form which can be faxed or e-mailed back to us and we set it up. No money changes hands on our site. If someone sees a product they like, they add it to their basket and the contact details are forwarded to the seller, who calls them and arranges payment and shipping directly.”
He adds that customers can also place wanted ads for items they may require. Suppliers of new products can also purchase a banner advertisement in the first part of each section. There is also a free directory listing of companies that can supply those products. During 2006 he says he will donate 10 percent of all revenues generated on Recycle Depot to environmental charities within the UK.
Stralfors, a major independent Swedish label and forms group, is developing its Pharmakett labeling division by opening a separate factory in Gothenburg. It will operate entirely separately from the company’s mainstream label plant in the city, which supplies the automotive, beverage and cosmetic sectors, including variable data labeling. The company says it will emulate the pharmaceutical industry by running the division’s label and marking operations to the same high demands of security and control. It aims to continuously control each single label during the process using techniques already adopted by Stralfors’ factory in Switzerland. Both plants will therefore provide complimentary backup for each other.
Self-adhesive labels account for only 7 percent of the European bottled drinks market, but this still represents a huge and growing market in volume terms, with rising consumption offering further product decoration opportunities. This is the message that FINAT, the European trade association for self adhesive label manufacturers, endorses in its latest publication, End-user Market Survey and Industry Report*. It sees the world’s beverage container market as a lucrative area for expansion, as drink container manufacturers come to realize the many advantages that self-adhesive paper and film labels offer compared with other forms of product decoration.
The seven main segments (soft drinks, beers, bottled water, fruit juices, wines, spirits, and others) together produce a massive 500 billion liters of drink with demand growing at 2.7 percent a year. The beer sector, especially premium brands, is said to offer the highest potential for high quality self-adhesive labeling, closely followed by labels for flavored spirit drinks, quality ciders, sparkling wines, and high value spirits where labels may include antitheft and anticounterfeiting features.
The report outlines several benefits that self-adhesive labels offer compared with wet glue labels. They include economic production for small runs and less costly maintenance regimes on integrated label/bottling lines. Combined with advances in printing techniques, such factors offer sound reasons for Europe’s major drink container manufacturers to adopt self-adhesive technology, especially with the growth in multinational labeling and bottling applications. Recycling is another factor. Some label firms have produced labels for returnable glass bottles that can withstand 15 or more trips through the sterilization process, while the use of plastic substrates for labels on plastic bottles sidesteps recycling problems.
* End-user Market Survey & Industry Report by Alexander Watson Associates, published by FINAT, PO Box 85612, 2508 CH, The Hague, Netherlands (www.finat.com).
Sherwood Technology Ltd., a UK-based color change specialist, has teamed up with label converter Sessions of York in a worldwide licensing deal. It means Sessions can produce Gamma Sterilization Indicator labels over a 10-year period. The self-adhesive labels undergo a chemical color change from yellow to red when exposed to gamma radiation. Applications of this immediate “yes/no” indicator of gamma exposure include food irradiation and the sterilization of medical and surgical products.
Sessions of York will continue to apply its registered brand name of Detex to the Gamma Sterilization Indicator labels. The company specializes in supplying customized labels to customers in most market sectors and in many parts of the world.
Ultraviolet curing of inks and coatings offers numerous production benefits, but it also helps to reduce the industry’s emissions of harmful VOCs (volatile organic compounds). This area is of special concern to European health, safety and environmental (HSE) bodies. Over the years they have cooperated in setting guidelines to reduce harmful levels of VOCs. One recent international initiative is the UV Protocol, intended to provide effective monitoring and safe use of radiation technology in the European graphics industry. It builds on the platform of work already carried out by several HSEs, as well as that initiated by RadTech Europe (RTE), which promotes the use of radiation and electron beam technology.
The UV Protocol defines standards covering the compounds used for manufacturing UV inks and coatings, as well as the design and construction of printing and converting machines. Furthermore, it recommends a hierarchy of control measures ranging from elimination of a particular chemical or a process, substitution or reduction to a harmless level to the use of personal protective equipment. The prime consideration is elimination and substitution, followed by intermediate choices like engineering measures. It considers the use of personal protective equipment as a measure of last resort.
Raflatac has produced a new angle on reducing or even eliminating the backing liner for manually applied labels, such as those used in transport or logistic labeling. Its double-sided Jetlaser Duoface is claimed to be versatile and creates zero waste because each of its two facestock layers acts as a release liner for the other. This is said to double converting capacity, halve packaging and transport costs and save on warehousing. End users can load many more labels into their laser printers, hand application is faster and the process avoids waste liner disposal costs.
Furthermore, says the company, Duoface labels allow simultaneous printing on both sides, or labels can be bulk printed on one side with general labels, such as “this side up” or “fragile”, while the other side is left blank for printing information on package content or the recipient’s address. It is also possible to print information across two labels or to apply identical labels separately for ease of viewing.