One of the necessary evils of selling alcoholic beverages across the borders of different states is the application of tax stamps to the bottles.
With its roots in Bavaria in the South of Germany, Gernep has been serving the breweries of course, but also many wineries and distilleries across Europe and the world for more than 3 decades. Over this period, the requirement of our customers has evolved with higher speed bottling lines and various tax label application challenges.
Most excise tax labels are delivered in stacks without adhesive. If you ever been assigned the task to apply such labels by hand, you certainly keep very bad memories of those days! Of course, for any winery or distillery with commercial production, a machine is necessary to cope with the task.
Labeling systems for tax label application are what we call Cold Glue Labelers, also referred to cut & stack cold glue labelers in America. A stack of labels is placed on a magazine and a mechanical label application system consisting of glue pallets and grippers are transferring the labels from the magazine to the bottles. This is the same principle used to apply paper labels to beer bottles, but with some extra challenges.
Tax labels for wine and spirit bottles are narrow and long, which requires a good level of know-how to design label magazine that works well. Also, depending of regions and market segments, the tax label can be simple side application (covering the cap and bottleneck), an L-Shape application or a U-Shape application. As you can imagine, a side tax label is straightforward to apply, but a U-Shape tax label involves more work.
L-Shape Excise Tax Labeler
As you will see in the videos, the pre-cut tax labels are coming from a stack in the magazine. The labeling station, consisting of a mechanically synchronized set of glue pallets and grippers/sponges will efficiently take the labels from the magazine, add the glue and transfer to the bottle neck. On a rotary labeling machine, the bottles are always trapped between a bottle plate and a centering bell on the carrousel during label application. Because the L-Shape Tax Label must cover the top of the cap, it means a portion of the label is loose (not applied to the bottle) during the time it is in the carrousel. The label portion covering the cap is applied in a special outfeed starwheel with a set of rollers and than the finished bottles are released on the conveyor for downstream case packing.
U-Shape Excise Tax Labeler
Because the length of those tax labels covering the top of the cap and both sides, a different application method must be used. The cut & stack labels are taken from the label magazine the same way as the other labels, but only a portion of the label is applied to one side of the bottle. A long part of the label (more than half of the length) needs to be held by mean of vacuum in a first carrousel. The bottles are transferred to a second carrousel where glue is applied to the remaining portion of the label and a special clamping device is coming down to apply the label to the top and side of the bottles.
All those sequences are mechanically synchronized, therefore if a bottling line is faster, the tax labeling machine must have bigger carrousels and starwheels to have more time to do all the operations smoothly.
For various reasons, such as label positioning or bottle design, Gernep has the capacity to perform orientation of the bottles prior to applying the tax labels. Some bottles have bottom or side notch in the glass, which can be used to mechanically orient the bottles with special bottle plates. Otherwise, optical sensors can be used to detect the body labels or a mark on the capsule for example. Electronic detection requires servo-driven bottle plates. Basically, the bottle will rotate on itself until a mark or target is detected and than the bottle will stop spinning. Finally, more complex orientation is possible with embossed logo or other marks that would require an enhanced camera system. In this case, the multiple camera system will “map out” the bottle and find a reference point, then it will give a signal to the servo motor driving the bottle plate to rotate by X degrees.
As you can see with the above explanations, tax label application on wine or spirit bottles is not a one size fits all solution. Each application must be reviewed by a technical expert and the machine is built accordingly.
Labeling systems for tax label application is only one of many labeling machines in our portfolio. For wine, spirits, and liquor, we have a wide array of solutions including pressure-sensitive and cold glue label application for front, back, medallion or wrap around label application. Gernep can combine those two labeling technologies (PSL and cut & stack) on the same machine frame for a maximum of versatility.
I hope this text was helpful and we hope to have a chance to work with you on your next labeling project.