Delabeler eliminates time-consuming practice of soaking bottles and scraping off labels by hand
by Cyril Penn
September 08, 2020
Alpine Engineering Solutions LLC is introducing a first-of-its-kind delabeler, reducing the time it takes to strip off wine labels and adhesives from wine bottles to ten seconds. The delabeler eliminates the expensive and time-consuming practice of soaking bottles in tubs of water and scraping off labels by hand.
Winemakers typically end up with 2, 3 or even 5 cases of crooked labels during the process of getting the bottling line ready. They often throw the bottles in a tub to soak, scrape off the labels, and put them back on the line at the end of the run. Sometimes the line has already changed, or there’s a different size bottle so they end up doing some hand-labeling.
The idea with this machine was to take that 2, 3, or 5 cases, quickly take the labels off, and stick them back on the line.
Bottling service providers factor the cost of removing labels into every run because crooked labels occur when initial machine adjustments are made. Larger lines produce cases that get rejected at the start of each day.
More than 400 units based on an earlier design have been deployed in Australia and New Zealand over the past five years. The machine launching in the U.S. is a more automated version, delabeling 200 to 300 bottles per hour.
The machines were developed for routine use on bottling lines, one for each line, so that bottling sequence is maintained, which is key for traceability.
American winemakers have shown interest in using it to fix labeling problems and mistakes, Lola 200 inventor and winemaker Nick Goldschmidt said.
A large winery had a product recall in the UK. They’d set aside crooked labels from the beginning of a run and put them back on the line at the end of the day but that put their lot sequence out of order – making the recall extremely costly because the lot code numbers got mixed up. They later purchased six machines.
Another winery bottled two-and-a-half-thousand cases before realizing they misspelled “Chardonnay.” They bought two.
Another winery needed to relabel 30,000 cases: they bought two.
High-end wineries with bottles retailing for $100 or more want every label perfect. If there’s a little bump or nick, they can quickly take the label off and do it again.
The machines, made in Napa, are priced around $15,000.
“People have found them useful for label issues such as addressing nonperformance of adhesives, fixing misspellings, changing back labels to meet international requirements, or updating the label for marketing reasons,” Goldschmidt said in announcing the launch. “And as a winemaker, I have found that streamlining operations and reducing labor to save costs can help mitigate revenue challenges.”