With an output of nearly 2,000 vehicles per day, the Ford plant in Cologne, Germany, is one of the biggest in the country, and shipping the finished product to dealers by road, rail or canal is a logistical nightmare. Ford went looking for a label-based solution which could be dispensed and applied automatically and which could be read at long distance. In addition, the label had to be easily and totally removable once the vehicle reached its destination. The solution was found by Schreiner LogiData, part of the Schreiner Group, one of Germany’s leading label and identification companies. The same company also claims to have found a new and better solution to the problem of using RFID labels on metal surfaces. Its UHF-on-Metal-Label uses the metallic surface as an extra antenna, thus turning a problem into a solution.
The rise of digital label printing has spawned a multitude of specially designed new substrates, coatings and converting equipment. Market leader HP Indigo has accredited a small number of suppliers, including two of Europe’s major narrow web machinery manufacturers, AB Graphic and SMAG.
UK-based AB Graphic International (ABG), which has facilities in several European countries and in North America, makes and markets converting lines including laser diecutting technology, camera inspection systems and rewinders. SMAG’s manufacturing plant near Paris, France, makes narrow web screenprinting presses and a range of converting equipment. SMAG Sales and Marketing Manager Stéphane Rateau reckons that finishing equipment for digital labels could be one of the few really bright spots on the European label industry’s radar this year.
“It’s a field where expertise and innovation count for more than price,” says Rateau, “which makes it easier for euro zone manufacturers to compete even in difficult markets like the USA.” Both ABG and SMAG will be exhibiting at Labelexpo Americas in Chicago in the fall of this year.