MTM Labels: Sign language

Posted on 8 Nov 2012

Manufacturers are continually searching for innovation that sticks. And for sign-maker MTM Labels that is only too literal as the company continues to produce labels and signs for factories and machinery that stay in place and in good condition throughout the product life.

Labels and aluminium nameplates are rarely at the forefront of the minds of people running companies.

But manufacturers can often be caught in situations where they are unable to send out a product because of a missing label that is needed to meet safety or other mandatory requirements, delaying delivery, which can often have a financial penalty.

MTM Labels, which makes bespoke labels and nameplates, produces safety warning labels for construction equipment and other machinery.

The sign maker has set up a just-in-time delivery service to help manufacturers reduce inventory

Seeing signs

MTM Labels has the expertise to choose the correct materials and inks that will create a metal or plastic sign to meet a range of temperature requirements, from use in cold storage rooms (-40°C) to equipment operating at well above 100°C. MTM Labels also supplies tactile labels with raised lettering or braille where information is required for the blind or partially sighted.

“If colours fade then you could be losing vital safety information and putting yourself in a situation where you can be litigated against if an accident occurs,” says MTM’s managing director Ian Greenaway.

“People frequently have a problem with labels falling off equipment, which is sometimes down to bad manufacturing but more often down to incorrect specification of materials and sometimes poor storage or application by the customer but machines or vehicles need to meet international standards that require potential hazards to users to be highlighted.”

MTM’s status as an underwriters laboratory authorised label supplier means that customers exporting their equipment to the United States or Canada meet all the safety requirements if the UL logo appears on a label fitted to your equipment.

“A lot of the labelling is about selling the brand, if it looks good it makes it look like a Mercedes rather than an old banger,” Ian Greenaway, Managing Director, MTM Labels

Selling the brand

A lot of bespoke signs are there for safety purposes but it is also vital for branding. I’ve often clocked a battered old digger sitting stationary in a field with its signs fading away following years of outdoor use. The safety colours (red, orange and yellow) are the three that fade the most in direct sunlight, which can reflect on the brand and diminish safety information. MTM ensures that long life inks are used for all outdoor equipment to avoid fading problems.

“A lot of the labelling is about selling the brand, if it looks good it makes it look like a Mercedes rather than an old banger,” comments Mr Greenaway, adding that poor quality labels can really let a product brand down.

“Whether it’s a road sweeper, light fitting, a digger or a refuse truck, it looks tacky if the labels are falling off or fading. People think ‘if the exterior looks like that then what is the equipment inside like.”

MTM supplies most of the major emergency lighting companies in the UK, but the difficulty is that the slightest imperfection shows up when lit up. MTM has many years experience ensuring that their products are free of imperfections and enhance the perception of a quality product.

MTM Labels focuses on making products that last to ensure positive brand reputations

Sign design

The Chesterfield firm can produce anything from a one-off to a 10,000 run and offers stock management solutions that ease cash flow for customers.

“Sales people love to get that 10,000 order and give a discount for doing it,” says Greenaway. “That was the conventional way of doing trade but it ties up a lot of factory capacity making a batch that the customer doesn’t need 90% of for many months. The customer is tying up cash in stock so we ask our customers what their annual demand is for a particular label and manage what batch quantity to put through to the factory so that there is always stock available.”

MTM also kits parts so that a customer has a ready-made pack of labels and signs (on a sheet or in a bag) to fit to each product, saving crucial labour time. “Operators don’t have to keep collecting labels from different bins, it all goes out as a kit to the guy who is going to put them on the machine or vehicle,” says Ian Greenaway.

The ambitious SME, which supplies most of the major UK emergency lighting manufacturers, is adding value to win more business by offering free technical advice and working with the customer’s engineers. Greenaway notes how the company prides itself on its innovation and how it has been able to “value engineer” products to reduce material wastage. This is not only good for the environment, but also the customer as it reduces costs to provide a competitive price.