The proliferation of private labels and new products in the aerosol industry keeps the Penn Champ Division of Bissell running at full capacity. Penn Champ packs more than 500 different Stock-Keeping Units (SKUs) of aerosol products in necked-in cans using roll-fed labeling equipment from B&H Labeling Systems, Ceres, Calif., at its plant in Butler, Pa.

Cost savings have driven Penn Champ's success in aerosol packaging for many years, and one important earlier move was to save on warehouse space by using a universal can. Long before Penn Champ installed the B&H 2000 labeler and B&H 700 shrink tunnel to handle necked-in cans, they labeled straight-sided aerosol cans with a B&H 200-6 roll-fed labeler. Penn Champ's purchase of the B&H 200-6 labeler allowed them to use labeled bright cans to accommodate the rush of new customers entering the aerosol home and personal products business.

"Speed-to-market is important to new companies coming into the business. New entrants have been flexible regarding decoration techniques, and labeled cans satisfy their demands," noted Gary Dean, general manager at Penn Champ. "But we have always been alert for any way to improve package appearance for our customers, and necked-in cans give us an opportunity to do that." It also presented a whole set of new packaging-line challenges.

Move to Necked-In Cans Means Shrink Labels

With the decision to move to necked-in cans, Penn Champ had to find labeling technologies and materials that would result in a label molded neatly into the necked-in chime at the top of the can body. Penn Champ turned to B&H and learned of the Endura shrink-label system, which begins with roll-fed labeling that tightly applies shrinkable roll-fed labels to the container. Any B&H model can be used for this shrink-labeling application, and the manufacturer's demands for line speed and easy changeover will dictate the selection of the labeling machine. The B&H Model 700 shrink tunnel follows the labeler and heat-shrinks the label into the recessed areas of the container to perfectly embrace the contour of the shaped package.

Penn Champ packs more than 500 different SKUs of aerosol products in necked-in cans using roll-fed labeling equipment from B&H Labeling Systems.

Label-Material Challenges

Necked-in cans also presented label-material challenges to Penn Champ. "On our straight-wall aerosol cans, we had used metalized labels, but those labels don't shrink into the neck of the can. So we decided to go to oriented polypropylene (OPP) and polyethylene (PE). These materials are good-looking, inexpensive and shrink, but they were harder to cut," explained Dean.

B&H solved this problem by installing carbide-tip blades on its B&H 2000. "The carbide-tip blades that B&H uses last 10 times longer than other blades," said foreman Bill Boyer. "It was a distinct improvement, and we were only the second B&H customer to have these blades."

The label materials developed by Penn Champ's label supplier, Salem Label Co. Inc., Salem, Ohio, was another success factor in the move to necked-in cans. "Salem's input was crucial in helping with tests of the new label materials and the material-machine interface. They tried many different adhesives and tie layers to get to the label substrate that finally worked with necked-in aerosol cans," stated Dean.

According to B. J. Anderson, director of business development at Salem Label, the Penn Champ challenge presented a perfect opportunity for their AeroWrap product. "AeroWrap is an ideal way to enhance packaging because of its award-winning flexographic print quality and Salem's ability to do innovative laminations of OPP label films," Anderson noted. AeroWrap is furnished in rolls specifically to be used on roll-fed labeling equipment. It is an all-film, durable label stock that is laminated for gloss and protection as well as metalized for the opacity needed to hide can seams.

Shrink Tunnel Is Key

The final key to Penn Champ's success with roll-fed labeling of necked-in aerosol cans was the trouble-free B&H 700 shrink tunnel. Because it is necessary to carefully and proportionately shrink the labels onto a contour surface, B&H designed this part of its Endura system after much research. The B&H 700 shrink tunnel controls the application of heat to finesse the shrinking, enabling the shrink label to perfectly embrace the contour of the container. Six specifically sequenced, individually controlled heat applicators gently warm the different parts of the label area at low temperatures tailored to the label material. Cans rotate under tight control in front of each heat station while they are conveyed through the system.

"The B&H 700 shrink tunnel is very safe, and the controls for the B&H 700 shrink labeler make label adjustments very simple to do. B&H has taken the trouble to research the shrinkability of various materials, and it was able to set up the machine in advance of installation. This made installation easy," said Boyer.

Fast Response, Rapid Changeovers

Penn Champ's customers not only demand a perfectly decorated aerosol container, but also fast response in production. "What the customer demands from us right now is that we turn on the dime. . . and that is one of the things we can do with labeled cans," noted Dean. "Being able to label bright cans is a godsend, particularly for our small-order customers. With the B&H roll-fed labeling equipment, we can turn their orders around just as fast as we can get the other components, like overcaps, in-house."

Penn Champ averages three label changes a day in order to produce the 500 SKUs a year that roll off the line, so they must pay close attention to the ability of their labeling equipment to do fast changeovers. B&H has pre-programmed Penn Champ's most common set-ups. "This really helps speed up label changeover time. On some days we change shave cream labels 10 times, so this is a big deal to us," said Boyer.

With the current boom in the private-label business and strong growth for Bissell's own brands, Penn Champ is busy. As a privately owned company, managers are motivated to look both at long-term gains and short-term production efficiencies. "Part of our salary is based on returns, so when we put capital into Penn Champ, we want to make sure we get a good return on that capital," said Dean. "We are very happy with our return on the B&H equipment."

For more information on B&H Labeling Systems, contact the company at PO Box 247, Ceres, CA 95307; phone 209-537-5785; fax 209-537-6854; Web site Or Circle No. 67.

For more information on Penn Champ, contact the company at 1300 Rail Road St. and E. Lincoln Ave, East Butler, PA 16029; phone 724-287-8771; fax 724-287-6404. Or Circle No. 68.

For more information on Salem Label Co. Inc., contact the company at 1472 Salem Pkwy., Salem, OH 44460; phone 330-332-3535; fax 330-332-1562; or e-mail Or Circle No. 69.