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Eliminating the Throughput Bottleneck in Print and Apply Operations

Automated labeling systems (Printer Label Applicator “PLA”) have been in existence for decades. A typical system is comprised of a label supply (typically pressure sensitive labels on a roll),a printer (thermal transfer or direct thermal), and an integrated applicator (wipe, blow, or tamp/blow). In today’s industrial environment an automated process that prints a label and applies it to a parcel is common practice. An automated labeling solution provides consistent placement of readable text and barcodes on the parcel with high efficiency at speeds much faster than manual and semiautomated processes. There are many advantages to PLA systems as compared to manual or semiautomatic processes, of which will not be covered in this article.

As e-commerce grows and demands more and more shipments, material handling and product identification automation evolves. The labeling process has become the limiting factor for obtainable throughput, most dramatically evident when applying shipping labels to the top of the parcel. Applying a label to the parcel’s top panel introduces subsequent challenges due to variable product height. Inmost applications, the parcel height can vary from 1” – 36”, thus the time required for the label applicator to receive the label, travel to the desired parcel height to apply the label, and then return to receive the next label becomes a substantial amount of the total time required to label the parcel and therefore a dominant constraint throughput. In order to overcome this limitation with traditional technology, two or three PLA’s are sometimes installed in tandem, operating in a round robin format, to obtain a throughput of approximately 50 ppm (dependent on product pitch (parcel length +gap),conveyor speed, and label size).


Introducing Fluence Automation’s Raptor labeling system to break through bottlenecks experienced by traditional labeling technology. The Raptor system includes a dynamic label printer applicator solution which moves with the carton height, thus placing the applicator within inches of the product when the printed label is ready to be applied. This design allows the label to be printed while the PLA is moving to the next carton height. By eliminating the sequential process and creating a dynamic home position, throughput speeds of 70 ppm with one printhead can be achieved with a parcel height variance of 36”.


The Fluence Automation Raptor system is much more than a printer applicator.The solution is installed as a sub system with a dedicated controller and a high-precision actuator to provide maximum efficiency, throughput and accuracy.The system receives product ID and height data and then tracks the parcel through the labeling and verification processes.

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE: A “Green”solution that provides more labels on the supply roll to decrease label change downtime!

TheRaptor system utilizes “linerless” label stock (think of a roll of tape) which provides 70% more labels per roll while eliminating liner material waste disposal. The continuous label stock is cut to the desired length after printing. This process also allows the system to produce multiple label lengths to accommodate some application needs, without reducing throughput.

With the dynamic cutting, a single unit can cut various length labels dynamically in motion to create opportunities of multiple labels with a single operation.

Another need the Raptor system has addressed is with applications requiring return labels and packing lists with the shipping label. Due to the ability of the label stock to release from itself on the roll (remember the roll of tape), the system can apply multiple labels in a stack under the shipping label. Once received, the customer simply peels off the shipping label to view the packing list and can have a return label supplied ready to be used if needed. Fluence’s unique and custom adhesive provides peelable yet secure labels for almost any application.

TheRaptor System provided by Fluence Automation, checks all the boxes for high speed print and apply labeling. Achieving much higher throughputs with minimal footprint (a single system opposed to multiple units), more labels per roll resulting in less downtime for label change, and the ability to create multiple label sizes (lengths) on the fly while providing a “green” solution by eliminating liner waste.

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