ProMach was this year’s largest exhibitor at Pack Expo Las Vegas 2017, with a booth so large they gave their aisles street names and provided maps to visitors.
That’s a big booth, but they somehow managed to create a small business feel within it. ProMach consists of 26 smaller companies, all of which they proudly declare to be leaders in their respective industries. And when you’re in ProMach City, you’re not talking to Corporate ProMach but to the folks in each division who actually make and serve the equipment you’re seeing.
You probably wouldn’t ever deal with ProMach as such. The labeling and coding brands you would interact with as a craft brewer include Axon, P.E. USA and ID Technology. Because they all fall under the ProMach umbrella though, they are able to efficiently communicate, integrate and collaborate with one another and with the whole ProMach family.
What they all do
Axon has a range of can sleevers designed for ease-of-use in the craft industry. They are equipped with precision Schneider controls and can manage anywhere from 50 to 300+ cpm. The entry-level EZ-100SL runs $40,000-$50,000 complete with heat tunnel and conveyor. The EZ-150SL is around $75,000 complete, and the Lanzara (which they have at Aviator) is around $150,000.
P.E. USA showed off its Modular Plus rotary labeler, which is a pretty cool machine that features up to three or six interchangable labeling stations. This allows you to, say, use the same rotary wheel to apply front, back and neck labels. Or you can create redundancies to keep the line going when, say, one station runs out of labels. The backup station would instantly kick in, allowing an operator to undock the first station, replace the labels and plug it back in without interrupting operations.
If you’re not convinced yet, check out this video to see it in action.
The demo model had two stations doing pressure sensitive labels, front and back, at 100 labels per minute. It sold for around $100,000.
Finally, ID Technology showcased its Citronix code printer. ID Technology actually does label stock, printers and applicators too for breweries like Franconia and Lakefront. The Citronix stuck out, however, as an elegantly simple coding alternative for craft brewers not ready to sign a contract with a larger company like Domino.
The key to this continuous inkjet (CIJ) printer is its all-in-one service unit that combines the ink cartridge and printhead. This means you can swap it out yourself — no technicians, no service contracts. It also means longer uptimes and smoother operation.
Many industrial code printers presume more or less continuous operation and can actually run into trouble if you don’t run them everyday. The Citronix solves this problem for the smaller craft brewer by automatically flushing itself after two minutes of downtime, which means it will be ready to use again immediately or in a week.
If you have friends at Martin House Brewing or Rahr and Sons Brewing, both of Fort Worth, Texas, you can ask them how they like their Citronix coders. A variety of models are available for between $7,200 and $8,500.
Brad Fruhauff is a good dude, a great beer writer and a contributor to Craft Brewing Business. Plus, he wants to write for your brewery. Check out his other work here.