Why date code your packaging sleeves off-line?

Standalone off-line coding systems, or feeders, are ideal for printing date or batch information onto packaging sleeves – providing flexibility and accuracy where needed.

The rise in popularity of sleeves

Sleeves (sometimes referred to as belly bands) as a packaging type are ever prevalent in our supermarkets, often found wrapped around ready meals, confectionery and more increasingly, personal care items. They are very versatile and cost less to produce then conventional boxes, yet they still allow for manufacturers to brand their products effectively.

They also offer a good solution for seasonal packaging or limited edition products. Instead of producing completely new boxes for the holiday season for example, a festive sleeve can simply be added over the top of the existing pack.


The challenge of coding sleeves

As with all packs destined for consumers, sleeves must be coded with batch numbers and/or date codes to meet stringent regulations. The codes need to be clear, durable, and accurate or there could be costly implications, such as product recalls or damage to the brand’s reputation.

Applying this variable information onto sleeves once they are wrapped around a product can prove difficult, particularly if the sleeve is unusually shaped or has a difficult-to-reach print area. The sleeve can also move while being guided down the line, leading to inaccurate code placement.

When using a feeding system, the sleeves or belly bands are consistently presented to the printer in their flat form. The print area is easily accessible, allowing for accurate code positioning, completely eliminating waste from misprinted packs.

Such systems are also ideal for handling the aforementioned seasonal or promotional sleeves, as you can code these away from the main line, as and when needed.

 RF1 Feeding system with a close up of friction infeed
  • The RF Lite offers a compact and cost-effective solution for date coding our packaging sleeves. We looked into a variety of potential options before deciding on the RF Lite, due to the small foot-print, ease of use and value compared to other equipment we looked at.

    Little Moons

Ideal for automation

Another reason to invest in an off-line feeding system is to automate a manual process.

Date coding by hand is usually slow and labour intensive, and it can often result in misprints. By automating the process, throughput is dramatically increased, and over-the-top labour costs and coding errors will become a thing of the past.

Systems designed specifically for sleeve coding

Within our range of feeding systems, we have two that are ideal for the reliable handling and coding of sleeves: the RF Lite and the RF Auto. Both take a flat-form sleeve from a stack and pass it underneath a printer or labeller to be coded, before returning the marked sleeve to another stack, ready for operator removal. The suitability of the system much depends on the dimensions of the product, desired print, and the expected throughput.

The RF Lite is our entry-level system, ideal for those looking to move away from manually coding their sleeves. Its small footprint makes it easy to fit into tight production spaces and it can be supplied with a wheeled stand if it’s intended to serve multiple lines. It is fitted with a clean, maintenance-free thermal inkjet printer as standard, to ensure crisp, consistent prints.

The RF Auto is a heavy-duty feeding system, ideal for running high volumes of product. It benefits from an auto-gating system, which allows it to automatically adjust to handle products of varying thicknesses, such as windowed or lift-the-flap sleeves. It can accommodate a variety of coding and labelling technologies to suit the application.

For more information on our feeding systems or how you could benefit from coding your sleeves off-line, contact our friendly experts today!

The Rotech Tick

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