Tax stamp labeling for wine and spirits bottles | Gernep Labeling
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Tax label applicator for wine and spirit bottles

The application of excise tax stamps is one of the necessary evils of selling alcoholic beverages across the borders of different states.


Headquartered in Bavaria, South of Germany, Gernep has been distributing labeling solutions for over three decades. They’ve been assisting breweries, of course, but also many wineries and distilleries across Europe and the world. Over this same period, customers’ requirements have changed to meet bottling line speed evolution and tax label application challenges.


Most excise tax labels are delivered in stacks without adhesive, and if you have ever experienced labeling excise tax stamps by hand, you certainly would prefer that they remain a thing of the past! Machinery is a fundamental aspect of the commercial production of wines or spirits.


Tax label application systems are what the industry refers to as Cold Glue Labelers, also referred to cut & stack cold glue labelers in America. In short, the labeling machinery has a magazine that holds the labels, then glue pallets and grippers transfer them onto the bottles. This method is the same used to apply paper labels to beer bottles, although raising some extra challenges.


The slender and elongated dimensions of excise tax labels for wine and spirit bottles require a good level of design know-how for the system to perform flawlessly. Depending on regions and market segments, the tax label may call for a side application (covering the cap and bottleneck), an L-Shape application, or a U-Shape application. As you may well imagine, side labeling has straightforward application, whereas a U-Shape labeling is more contriving.

Tax label applicator for wine and spirit bottles

L-Shape Excise Tax Labeler


As you may have noticed in the video, the pre-cut tax labels are first stacked in the magazine. The labeling station, consisting of a mechanically synchronized set of glue pallets and grippers/sponges, will efficiently pick the label from the magazine, add the glue and transfer it to the bottleneck. The bottles are always trapped between a bottle plate and a centering bell on the carrousel during label application on our rotary labeling machine. Because the L-Shape excise tax label must cover the top of the cap, a portion of the remains detached while it remains carrousel. Application of the part covering the cap is handled by a special outfeed starwheel with a set of rollers. The finished bottles are then released on the conveyor for downstream case packing.



U-Shape Excise Tax Labeler


It is necessary to adopt a different application method for these more extended labels covering the top and both sides of the cap. The cut & stack labels are withdrawn from the label magazine in the same way as the other labels but partially applied only to one side of the bottle. The more extended portion of the label, held by vacuum on the first carousel, is transferred to a second carousel where the remaining part of the label receives glue, then a specialized clamping device drops down to affix the label to the top and side of the bottles.


All sequences are mechanically synchronized, if a quicker bottling line is required, the tax labeling machine must have bigger carousels and starwheels to have more time to run operations smoothly.



Bottle orientation


Gernep machinery can orient bottles for complex label positioning or to fit labels to particular bottle designs. Some bottles have a bottom or side notch in the glass, which the system can use to mechanically orient the bottles with special bottle plates. Otherwise, optical sensors can detect body labels or a mark on the capsule to orient subsequent labeling. Electronic detection requires servo-driven bottle plates. In a few words, the bottle will rotate on itself until a marking or target is detected, and then the bottle will stop spinning. More complex orientation is also possible for embossings or other marks that would require an enhanced camera system. For such cases, the multiple camera system will “map out” the bottle and find a reference point, and 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 machinery is designed and built according to a technical experts review.


Tax labeling systems are only one of many in our portfolio. We have a wide array of wine, spirits, and liquor labeling solutions, including pressure-sensitive and cold glue label applications for the front, back, medallion, or wrap-around label application. Customization is one of Gernep’s strengths; combining both labeling technologies (PSL and cut & stack) on the same machine frame results in maximum versatility.


We hope this text has contributed to better plan your tax labeling operations and hope to have the opportunity to guide you in your next labeling project.