Although standard “office” labels are more than sufficient for routine applications like filing, addressing envelopes, and shipping boxes, they are not designed to withstand the range of conditions and hazards found in harsh industrial settings such as warehouses, production lines, laboratories, or construction sites.
Fortunately, film labels are available that are engineered to withstand harsh industrial environments. Some are even tested and certified to meet existing safety and regulatory requirements. These self-adhesive labels can be utilized for everything from barcoded asset tags on machinery to location IDs on parts bins and affixed to a variety of surfaces found in industrial settings such as metal, wood (pallets), glass, plastic and ceramic.
Paper Labels in Industrial Settings
There can be serious consequences to using standard paper labels in an industrial setting. For example, exposure to moisture, abrasion, chemicals, heat, and even sunlight can lead to torn, smeared, discolored, unreadable labels, or labels that fall off.
This can compromise safety, reduce productivity, and may lead to regulatory fines or legal consequences.
Characteristics of Durable Labels
It is much more cost effective to use the right label from the start.
Since standard paper office labels are intended for an indoor environment, the topcoat is not waterproof, and the paper substrate tears easily and is not moisture or chemical resistant.
In contrast, film labels can have a protective topcoat that is waterproof, even extremely chemical resistant in some instances. The substrate is a durable, scuff and tear-resistant film that can be made from materials like polyester and vinyl. The adhesive is high performance permanent that is also waterproof and chemical resistant. While the topcoat, substrate and adhesive can vary for an industrial label, each adds a level of strength to the entire label “sandwich” construction.
To ensure products will perform properly in the field, companies such as Avery scientifically test and evaluate how the labels stand up to a host of potential situations found in industrial environments.
For Natalie Davis, a Product Design Drafter and Safety Coordinator at Itasca, IL-based Solberg Manufacturing, utilizing paper labels covered with tape clearly was not working.
“Our previous labels on our acetone and alcohol dispensers in the production area kept rubbing off and had to be replaced,” explains Davis. “We tried putting see-through tape over the labels for protection, but the incompatibility of the tape with the harsh chemicals caused the tape to crinkle and the label was impossible to read.”
When Davis switched to Self-Laminating Labels, she found it resolved any issues of label readability and longevity.
These industrial labels are compatible with laser or inkjet printers. Users can print in full color using a printer they have on hand, without having to purchase a specialized and costly thermal transfer printer, plus multiple colors of ribbons.
Armed with a better understanding of industrial labels, safety and facility managers can now avoid the pitfalls of using office-grade paper labels in such harsh settings. By doing so, companies not only eliminate the time and energy required for frequent replacement of labels.