Color Label Solutions

Color Label Solutions

Monday, March 26, 2012

What The "H" is GHS? An Opportunity!

GHS is an acronym for The Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals.  Adopted by the United Nations in 2003, GHS is a system for standardizing and harmonizing the classification and labeling of the $1.7 trillion global chemical business ($450 Billion in the US). It is a logical and comprehensive approach to:

  • Defining health, physical and environmental hazards of chemicals
  • Creating classification processes that use available data on chemicals for comparison with the defined hazard criteria; and
  • Communicating hazard information, as well as protective measures, on labels and Safety Data Sheets (SDS).

For a detailed explanation of these new requirements, please review this OSHA document:

Prior to GHS, regulatory bodies around the world required different looking labels that led to confusion with workers and emergency personnel.   Even in the US, different agencies required different looking labels for the same or similar products.

Under GHS, label elements have been standardized:

  • Symbols (hazard pictograms): Convey health, physical and environmental hazard information, assigned to a GHS hazard class and category.  Many or most of these symbols or pictograms must be printed in COLOR. (see figure 4.9 in the above link).
  • Signal Words: "Danger" or "Warning" are used to emphasize hazards and indicate the relative level of severity of the hazard, assigned to a GHS hazard class and category.
  • Hazard Statements: Standard phrases assigned to a hazard class and category that describe the nature of the hazard.

Previously, companies could produce preprinted labels with a variety of pictograms and use a thermal transfer printer to cross-out those symbols that were not required for the chemical.  Under GHS, this practice is not allowed.

One key aspect:  Transport pictograms are different in appearance and size than the GHS pictograms.  You don’t need to include both in a single label.  Therefore, labels smaller than 8.5” wide will work.


As for implementation, countries are implementing these standards at different rates.  In the USA, international shipments are listed as “implemented”.  For national shipments, it appears June 1, 2015 is the end of the transition period to implement these standards.  Look here for the status in 67 countries:

As merchant shipping transport most international shipments, chemicals manufacturers are obligated to label their products with materials that meet BS5609.   British Standard BS 5609 is a specification for printed pressure-sensitive, adhesive coated labels for marine use which includes requirements for the label base material. 

To meet the GHS requirements, companies have two options:  Purchase preprinted color labels that meet the BS5609 standard for each product, requiring companies to maintain an inventory of labels or produce them just-in-time with a color label printer.  By producing color labels on-demand, chemical companies reduce inventory, reduce waste, reduce the time to pick and putaway labels, simplify work processes and reduce their overall labeling costs.

To produce color labels on-demand, some chemical companies have decided to use color laser printers.  These printers cost significantly more to operate; and most allow only sheet fed, 8.5” x 11” options.

Now, chemical companies can use the Epson TM-3400 ink and the Kimdura poly inkjet labels from Neenah.  The combination of the Epson ink and Kimdura poly from Neenah has recently received certification of meeting these requirements:

With the implementation of GHS, contact your chemical company customers to discuss their deployment plans for GHS labels.  Recommending the Epson TM-3400 and BS5609 certified media, you can support their efforts to meet this important, new standard.

Guy Mikel

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

OEM Brands; With Service

Starcke GmbH & Co. KG ( a medium-sized, family run company that dates back to before 1720.  For over 100 years Starcke has manufactured abrasive cloth and paper that gives the master touch to a wide variety of surfaces, converting them into quality products.

As a division, Starcke USA ( been printing color labels since it’s inception, says Mary Snow, Purchasing Manager.  “With approximately 800 unique part numbers across the 4 primary market segments, we have followed the lead of Starcke GMBH & Co in Germany, printing color labels as required.” 

“At Starcke, we sell to distributors that want to use and promote their own brand names.  By printing color labels on demand, we give our distribution partners this capability at no additional cost.   Having the option of full-color labels means our customers get their customized label with their logo and company’s color.  This customization has been part of our business model from the start of Starcke USA” according to Mary.



I was introduced to Mary recently when two of Starcke’s TM-C3400 printers required maintenance.  To get service on this out-of-warranty printer, Mary had to contact and then send the printers to a local Epson “Servicer”.  This servicer then sent the printers to Indianapolis where they were repaired and returned to Starcke. 

To save the time and reduce the cost to repair the TM-C3400, companies like Starcke USA may want to consider purchasing (within 90 days of the initial purchase) the extended warranties and Spare-In-The-Air (SITA).  At approximately $62 per year, end users can obtain a different printer next day if maintenance is required with the SITA program.  Here are the part numbers and MSRP of these programs:

Part number/Model
Quantity (Cumulative)
Unit Price
One Year Spare-in-the-Air
One Year Extended Care
Two Year Extended Care

If you or your customers want to provide custom OEM labels for your distribution partners, be sure to do what Starcke Abrasives does; produce them when you need them.  And be sure to purchase the Extended Warranty and Spare-In-The-Air service program when you buy or sell a TM-C3400.

Contact me if I can help you with your OEM label program or have questions concerning service.

Guy Mikel

Monday, March 19, 2012

BS5609 Is No BS!

This week, Epson America, Inc. received notification from Pira International (,  the worldwide authority on packaging, paper and print industry supply chains, that the TM-C3400 ink in combination with new Kimdura poly facestock for inkkjet from Neenah received certification for Section 3 of BS5609 specification.


British Standard BS 5609 is a specification for printed pressure-sensitive, adhesive coated labels for marine use which includes requirements for the label base material.  BS 5609 testing is a requirement for self adhesive drum labels needing International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) certification. Testing includes a 3 month exposure of labeled test plates in salt water.

According to Doug von Dollen, Media Specialist for Epson America, Inc., “Epson is very happy to receive the BS5609 certification.  This approval shows the durability of the Durabrite inks in combination with the Epson qualified media; and will support the sales effort of our value added reseller partners into the worldwide chemical market”.

As mentioned by Doug, the BS5609 is especially important for chemical companies who need to comply to the global harmonized system of labeling (GHS) requirements.  Under this UN initiative, companies shipping chemical products international currently, and probably for any chemical shipments at some point in the future, need to comply to this requirement.  You may remember the other companies I have mentioned in my blog, Octochem- ( ) and Oakwood (, both who needed to comply to the GHS initiative.  

This new media and approval has come at a perfect time for my sales efforts.  At this time, I am working with a reseller on an opportunity with a chemical company.  In order to move from preprinted to color labels on-demand, this company required media to withstand Isopropyl Alcohol (IPA) with no smearing.  Take a look at my very simple test results.

The ink and media showed no signs of smearing after spraying IPA.

Shortly, our media partners will have this new media readily available for your chemical companies to use.  Contact me to discuss how we can help your customers comply to the GHS requirements as well as move to on-demand color labels.

Guy Mikel

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


Mercury Medical is a comprehensive health care company specializing in anesthesia, respiratory and critical care products and services. This company is recognized for excellence in manufacturing high quality medical products including the Neo-Tee T-Piece Resuscitator, Flow-Safe CPAP Systems, End Tidal CO2 Detectors, air-Q Masked Laryngeal Airways, CPR Resuscitation Bags (disposable, reusable and CPR-2 self-inflating), Hyperinflation Bags and Negative Inspiratory Force Meters.

Headquartered in Clearwater, Florida with a regional depot in Atlanta, Georgia, Mercury Medical has been in business for nearly 50 years, keeping health care ahead of the curve with their latest innovations.

As innovation is important, the Marketing team at Mercury Medical decided to move to color labels, in order to stand out and to promote their brand in hospitals.  According to Brian Morrison, Quality Assurance/Regulatory Manager, “Initially, Mercury Medical purchased preprinted color labels and then used a hand stamp to add the variable data.”

Although this process worked, it took a great deal of operator time, especially handling the media; picking the correct label and then putting away the labels.  More importantly, this process created lots of waste and scrap labels.  With approximately 1,000 SKU’s, Mercury Medical had to scrap preprinted labels every time a revision was made.


To reduce the operator time and wasted labels, Mercury decided to move to a print-on-demand color label process using the Epson TM-C3400 and two different label sizes, printing labels in 10 different colors.  “Now, Mercury prints the latest version of the label, only when required eliminating the waste associated with preprinted labels.  This new process has reduced our label costs by approximately 67% say Brian”. 

If you and/or your customers have a large inventory of preprinted color labels, then moving to print-on-demand could save money similar to what Mercury Medical found.  Plus, adding color to your labels will strengthen your brand with customers.

I like to thank Fred Braun at BCS Solutions for connecting me with Mercury Medical; and selling them the TM-C3400.  FYI:  Fred met Mercury at a trade show some time ago; but continued to work with them to deliver this great solution.  

Contact me to discuss how we can work together to reduce your costs and strengthen your brand using print-on-demand color labels.

Guy Mikel