When is the last time you thought about the role that adhesives play in your winery’s labeling and packaging process? If your answer is “never” or “a long time ago,” you are not alone — but it’s worth the time to take a closer look. Ensuring that you’re using the right adhesive and adhesive system for the task can ultimately save you time and money. But how do you determine the most appropriate adhesive/adhesive system for your winery? The main factors that will impact that answer will be the volume of wine you’re producing, as well as your budget.
Let’s explore best practices for adhesives in the wine industry, including labeling bottles and erecting and sealing cases.
Labeling Bottles: Low-Volume Wineries
Many smaller wineries decide to let their staff handle the labeling process rather than investing in a large automated labeling system, which makes good business sense. The manual labeling process can be accomplished with something as simple as a hand-fed label gluer that lets winery employees add glue to a specific label, and then manually affix it to each bottle. Depending on the system you select, you can choose a label gluer that is manual or hand-driven, or one that is driven by a small motor or is sheet-fed in order to speed up the overall process.
Labeling Bottles: High-Volume Wineries
Many high-volume wineries automate their labeling processes as a way to save time and increase efficiency. The most common scenario for automated labels includes a high-speed labeling machine that applies water-based glue to each label before placing it in the desired location on the wine bottle. However, some wineries prefer to purchase label rolls that already have pressure-sensitive adhesive applied — almost like a sticker — which are then automatically affixed to the bottles. Either solution is fine: the right choice for labeling for your high-volume winery will depend on your facilities, your budget and your preference.
Building and Sealing Cases: Low-Volume Wineries
When it comes to building and sealing cases, wineries have a variety of choices and options. But no matter which system you choose, the process is essentially the same: apply the adhesive to the case’s minor flaps, then fold in the major flaps and apply steady pressure until the bond forms. Some wineries use a water-based PVA glue to help erect their cases. Staffers apply the glue using either paint rollers, squeeze bottles or pressurized glue handguns, and then compress the glued area for a specific amount of time to allow the bond to set.
Other low-volume wineries rely on hot melt adhesives in the case-erecting process, and with good reason — using hot melt lets you build a case in about 10 seconds, whereas the cold glue process tends to require longer compression times to achieve similar adhesive effects. Using either a standalone hot melt handgun like a glue stick gun, or a more robust solution like a hot melt handgun system that uses guns and flexible hoses to draw hot melt adhesive from bulk tanks, staffers guide the hot melt between the case’s major and minor flaps using a mandrill, then apply firm compression to achieve the desired end result — a strong case with adhesive bonds that hold tight.
Building and Sealing Cases: High-Volume Wineries
If your winery produces a high volume of wine, an automated adhesive solution may be the most cost-effective approach to erecting and sealing cases. Many high-volume wineries choose to install automated hot melt systems — consisting of multi-module/orifice guns attached to flexible heated hoses that draw adhesives from melter/tank systems that have their own pumps and temperature controls. With this kind of automated hot melt system, sensors indicate when the box is in position, at which time a pre-determined amount of hot melt is applied to either the major or minor flaps (or both), and then the flaps are compressed.
The benefits of an automated hot melt system are crystal clear when you look at the numbers. While a person using a manual hot melt system can build a case in about 10 seconds, an automated hot melt system can build a case in 1 second — and it’s easy to see how that time savings can really translate into dollars once you start thinking about high-volume production.
Pre-Erected Cases: An Option for Wineries of All Production Levels
If convenience is your main priority, pre-erected cases may be an appropriate option for your winery. Bottle manufacturers will often sell their ready-to-label bottles in pre-erected cases so that the only adhesive a winery must be involved with is the adhesive needed to create the final seal on the case — in fact, all you do is get the bottle out of the case, fill it, cork and label it, then return it to its place in the case before creating that final seal. As you may imagine, the convenience of the pre-erected cases often comes with a higher price tag, so if budget is an issue, one of the adhesive options described above may be a more cost-effective case solution.
Adhesives: The Unsung Heroes of the Wine Packaging Process
Adhesives are the often-overlooked workhorses of the wine packaging process that ensure that your labels stick and your cases don’t fall apart. And regardless of the volume of wine your winery produces, it’s important that you choose the right adhesives for each application — from labeling your bottles to building and sealing cases. Taking a closer look at how you can optimize your adhesive process today can save you time, money and headaches in the future.