What is a rotary labeller?

What is a Rotary Labeller?

The term “rotary labeller” is the universally accepted generic name given to a machine that functions by transporting bottles or containers from a linear production line onto a circular, continuously rotating base, or “carousel”.  Around the perimeter, individual platforms are fitted, onto which each product sits and is held firmly in position with a top clamp or “bell”.  Through the rotation, each platform also turns accordingly, in order to correctly present the side of the product to a label applicator.  A label is applied as the product passes and is often wiped down afterwards for optimum dressing.  The platform then turns again to present another side of the product for the next label to be applied.  Depending on how many labels need applying dictates the number of labelling heads needed, the number of platforms required and therefore the size of the carousel base.  A “small” rotary labeller may have an 8-platform base suitable for up to three labelling heads but a larger 24-platform machine can handle up to 5 label applicators.

The method of synchronising the products from the in-feed conveyor onto the continuously moving platforms, is by use of a worm-screw for separation and a star-wheel for placement.  A further star-wheel collects the products and moves them across from their platforms and back onto the linear conveyor to continue their journey for packing.  There is often a label-on product verification process and a reject station just afterwards.

Even if its only a front and back label that is required, where a linear labeller could also do the job, a rotary labeller can do it many times faster.  To give an idea, a typical linear labeller, like the ALS 600, could reasonably apply up to 10,000 products per hour, whereas a high-speed rotary labeller with the correct specification, could achieve 60,000 – and without a loss of labelling accuracy. It is without question the best way to label at high speed, with the highest accuracy and with the ability to orientate products without stopping, so that labels are applied consistently in registration to either a mark, spot, indent or other physical characteristic of the product design.

Speed is not everything though, as the challenges for brands to differentiate themselves and stand out, has resulted in ever more complicated designs and new shapes of containers being dreamt up. Triangular bottles and other clever design ideas sometimes make it impossible or impractical to label with an in-line machine and only a rotary labeller with intelligent platform control can present any side of the product consistently to the labeller.

The performance of a good labelling machine depends on precision engineering, quality materials & skilled workmanship.  For the toughest of labelling requirements, which demand the highest of performance for outstanding labelling quality, there is nothing greater than the ALS R-Series rotary labellers.