Band rather than sleeve? "Of course we're biased - but with good reason," says Erich M. Lohner, General Manager Sales and Marketing of the Swiss banding machine manufacture ATS.
“Sleeves are woefully expensive in material and manpower and because they are a relatively loose fit, make it easy for unscrupulous shoppers to swap a cheap product for an expensive one,” he says.
In contrast, banding, which is popular on the Continent and designed to meet the demands of volume food producers, requires only one operator per machine rather than three or four sleeve packers.
“Banding machines are stand-alone or fully automated devices that are simple to operate, whereas sleeve erecting machines are far more complex and cost many thousands of pounds more,” says Mr Lohner. “The tighter fit of a band also stifles any intent to deceive by would-be miscreants in stores.”
“In addition, banding material is considerably less expensive than sleeves, with no loss of quality, so when operational costs are considered, we normally estimate payback for a banding system to be a matter of months. Justifying the investment in sleeving is therefore questionable.”
ATS claim that band print quality is as good as litho; with up to six-colour printing available on both sides ensuring that high resolution photographs and graphics are reproduced accurately. Bandwidths of up to 100 mm are wide enough to include all the usual graphics, logos, bar codes, recipes, regulatory information and other text found on most food packs today. Variable information can be printed in line.
Two other key factors in favour of bands are that the length of the band can be a fixed constant and that the ends are joined ultra-sonically, features ATS says is unique to them.
“Ultra-sonics are an intrinsic part of our banding process. They can work continuously in the cold, humid conditions typical of a food factory, producing odourless seals that do not burn the banding film, leave deposits or damage or taint the product. In comparison, sleeves require gluing, which is an added production headache,” says Mr Lohner.
The band can be set to the length appropriate for each product with an accuracy of 1 mm, and placed in the exactly the same position with a pre-set tension to ensure a perfect fit around the product – whereas a sleeve is a relatively loose fit. No matter what the running speed, bands can be applied with grip sufficient to avoid distorting or damaging the tray but make removal in a store difficult.
ATS has one more ace in its argument against sleeves – bands only partially cover the tray surface, giving shoppers more confidence in their purchase. Using a clear film with ‘holes’ around the graphics allows designers to exploit this feature.
Bespoke tray with a clear film top to show the contents and a six colour printed ATS band instead of a sleeve or label. The band saves considerable material and production costs. It is also relatively difficult to remove – unlike sleeves, which allow shoppers to swap a cheap pack for a more expensive one.
Special salad tray wrapped in clear film and banded with an attractive 50 mm wide ATS band, which was pre-printed with sales and regulatory information. Almost all of the pack’s contents are revealed – a sleeve would have hid them. Pricing and use by date are over printed in line. The oval logo is a separate label placed by the ATS machine.
Standard food tray with a clear film top to show the contents and a four colour printed ATS band instead of a sleeve or label. The band saves considerable material and production costs. It is also relatively difficult to remove – unlike sleeves, which allow shoppers to swap a cheap pack for a more expensive one.
Buitoni has long been in the forefront of packaging innovation. It recently simplified production on a line packaging fresh pasta on a tray with a printed lid to filling a standard plastic bag and wrapping it with a 60 mm wide band, pre-printed on both sides in full colour. After printing, the band is laminated with a thin plastic film to protect it, prevent it from tearing and further improve its appearance. The result is a remarkably elegant, but highly cost effective, pack.
Buitoni also use bands to hold multiple packs – in this case to promote a two-for-one offer.
The ATS ultra-sonic US-2100 banding machine can process paper and film bands 75 and 100 mm wide. It includes a digital control unit to set bands to a constant length. ATS is the only banding machine manufacturer offering ultra-sonic welding – a quiet, clean, safe and fume-free operation.
ATS – Automatic Taping Systems, of Zug, Switzerland – is the world’s leading banding machine manufacturer. It makes a wide variety of high quality banding systems for industries as diverse as banking, food, pharmaceutical (including clean rooms) and printing, using paper or film for the bands, plain or pre-printed in widths from 20 to 100 mm. The company offers a choice of heat seal or cold ultra-sonic welding in machines that vary in size from table-top and free standing to units integrated into complex production lines.
ATS Automatic Taping Systems AG
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