Anybody involved in the production of cannabis products is aware of the challenges associated with automating the packaging and labeling processes of such. Not that any of tasks are very different than other applications in the food or pharmaceutical industry, but the business opportunity created by the legalization is bringing many new players, all looking to grow fast and sometimes lacking the know-how of packaging automation.
If we take a jar filling line for buds for instance, the only novelty for packaging machinery manufacturers was the handling of the buds, which are fragile and very light. Check weighing is another area that is critical for cannabis buds packaging, but proven solutions are available in the marketplace. The other machinery like bottle unscramblers, cappers, induction sealers, labelers and cartoners are pretty much standard.
Yet, some specific applications are almost unique to the cannabis industry. For Gernep Labeling Systems, one of those niches is excise tax stamp application on finished products. While they are not very much different from other labels, they represent a problem for many Licensed Producers when their production volumes increase. Because they are rather small and used as tamper-evidence, they can represent a little challenge for many people.
JARS, BOTTLES, CARTONS & POUCHES
Those are the types of packaging we are dealing with in the cannabis industry daily. The exact same tax stamp needs to be applied to those packaging, but the applications are very different. For bottles and jars, the tax stamp must cover the cap and body of the bottle. For cartons, the label must be applied on the top and side, what we can a “L-Shape” application. Finally, filled and sealed pouches will require the tax stamps to be applied on the top part of the pouches, close to the tear notch and over the childproof zipper. It is critical to have a high tack of the adhesive on the complete area of the label as well as accurate placement because the tax stamps also act as tamper-evident labels.
IN-LINE OR OFF-LINE APPLICATIONS
Cannabis tax stamps can be applied in-line or off-line on the products. In-line means the tax stamps are applied during the production, which means a tax stamper will be integrated in the main bottling line and finished products will be ready to ship. However, many LPs are not applying the excise tax stamps on the bottles during production; they will send finished products to inventory and wait until destination is known to apply the tax stamps. Gernep can supply labelers for those so-called finishing lines as well as for production lines.
For in-line applications, we are offering combination labelers to apply the main body label and the tax stamp on the same machine frame. We can also integrate a coder to print variable information (THC and CBD level, lot number, barcode) on the main label and a vision system to verify that the right information is on the label, as well as label presence on the bottles.
For off-line applications, we have the capacity to perform orientation of the bottle prior tax stamp label application. In most case, orientation is done with a camera to detect the body label position and apply the tax stamp in a specific position on the bottle. Another sensor or camera can be used to make sure the tax stamp is properly applied to the jars or bottles and reject any faulty products.
TAX STAMPS WITH OR WITHOUT ADHESIVE
Tax stamps are available in rolls, in the form of pressure-sensitive labels, or in stacks and without adhesive. If production volumes are high, there could be interesting savings on the cost of labels, but the machinery to apply each type are very different.
Gernep has a strong background in the beer industry, which is probably the biggest users of pre-cut paper labels without adhesive, also known as cut & stack labels in America. Pre-cut tax stamps are similar but have their own specificity and require special attachment for optimal performance.
The expertise of Gernep in cold glue, hot melt and pressure-sensitive labeling technologies combined to hands on experience in various industries makes it a unique partner for your labeling projects. We would be thrilled to take a closer look at your products and advise on the best solutions available.