When it comes to wine packaging, the name of the game is using an adhesive that is strong, efficient and aesthetically pleasing. Wineries use adhesives and adhesive systems in a number of different ways including case erecting and sealing, bottle labeling, wax seals, and palletizing. Let’s take a closer look at each of these specific adhesive applications.
Case erecting and sealing: Many wineries erect cases for their product, accomplishing it manually in lower-volume applications and automating the process in higher-volume situations.
- Low-volume applications: Some lower-volume wineries use a water-based glue with extended compression to erect their cases. This PVA Glue is applied with paint rollers, squeeze bottles and handguns pressurized from pressure vessels and pumps. Others rely on hot melt handgun systems from stick guns to self-contained guns to bulk tanks with pumps, flexible hoses, and guns. In these low-volume situations, personnel use a mandrill in the box, squeezing the adhesive between the minor and major flaps and using firm compression to ensure quality bonds. Regardless of which system a low-volume winery uses to build its cases, the process of erecting and sealing one side of the wine bottle case involves the application of adhesive to the minor flaps, then folding the major flaps onto the minor flaps and compressing. Using hot melt, most manual assembly applications can produce a single box every 10 seconds.
- High-volume applications: In higher-volume applications, the hot melt systems consist of a melter/tanks system with a pump and temperature controls, flexible heated hoses and multi-module/orifice guns with nozzles and solenoids. Automatic machines detect the box and apply hot melt at high speed to the major and/or minor case flaps and compress them, quickly setting the hot melt adhesive. Automatic hot melt machinery can erect and glue a box in one second.
- Pre-erected cases: Many wineries sidestep the majority of the box-building process altogether by purchasing bottles in pre-erected cases from bottle manufacturers. In this situation, the winemaker would remove the bottle from the case, fill it with wine, then label and cork it — and in some instances, they may apply a wax seal to the top or side of the bottle. The filled and labeled bottle is then returned to the box before the top minors are bonded to the major flaps and the case is sealed.
Labeling: Before the case is sealed, the winery must first label the bottles — this can be accomplished manually or automatically.
- Manual labeling: Small hand-fed label gluers allow personnel to precisely coat individual labels, then manually attach them to the bottles. The labelers are hand driven, motorized driven and automatically sheet fed.
- Automatic labeling: In many applications, high-speed labeling machines apply water-based glue to labels before they are automatically attached to the bottle. In other cases, the winery purchases large rolls of labels that have pressure-sensitive adhesive pre-applied, which are then sheeted and attached to the bottles.
- Wax seals: The wax seal is considered packaging and labeling. This is an example of another type of hot melt adhesive that may be used in the wine packing and presentation process. A wax seal is actually a modified, colorized hot melt adhesive that is applied to the top and/or side of the bottle. A wax seal on the top of the bottle at the cork seals the bottle, providing a measure of tamper evidence while adding a bit of aesthetic appeal. Additionally, a wax seal on the cork or side of the bottle can be stamped with an impression or logo, as a way to enhance the wine’s overall branding. This hot melt adhesive is typically applied with an automatic hot melt system much like the case erecting system consisting of a tank, hose, gun, nozzle, and solenoid.
Palletizing: Adhesives are important throughout the wine packaging process, including palletizing. Completed cases of wine can be stacked in an interlocking fashion with small amounts of special hot melt or cold glue palletizing adhesive between them. This adhesive can be there to simply create a non-skid surface or can actually be used to bond and unitize the cases of wine, effectively decreasing the need for stretch wrap. Both water-based glue and hot melts are used here. The cold glue product is sprayed and extruded and the hot melt extruded in dots or lines.
Adhesives Are an Important Part of the Wine Packaging Process
In small, low-volume wineries as well as wineries that produce hundreds of thousands of bottles a year, adhesives and the associated adhesive application equipment play a vital role in the wine industry. From the cases in which the wine is shipped and stored, to the label and wax seals on the bottle and even the palletizing process, adhesives are an integral but often overlooked part of the process of getting a bottle of wine from the vineyard to your special occasion.