We sat down with Shane Burns, Production Manager and Kathy Lines, Filling Supervisor to get behind the scenes insights into the filling, labeling, and shipping of bottles, jars, and tubes. With these guidelines in mind, you’ll save money, time and bring a great product to market. As always, if you’ve got questions or comments, please let us know at email@example.com
All About Tubes
Tubes are a great packaging choice for body care products like lotions, crèmes, and cleansers. Tubes are filled by machine rather than by hand and are filled from the wide end, the cap being the small end, and then sealed with a beautiful ‘crimp’. Essential requires a low minimum of 1000 tubes per order.
Q: What size tubes can Essential fill?
A: We have forms, called “pucks” that fit ½ oz, 1 oz., 2, oz., 4 oz. and 8 oz. tubes—provided the tubes are no taller than 7-1/2 inches.
Q: What if I want a 6 oz. or 12 oz. tube? What then?
A: We have great partnerships with many filling houses and can always outsource these sizes, or if you have enough volume, it might be worth your while to custom make a mold–a “puck,” to hold your size tubes.
Q: Are there certain materials Essential can work with?
A: We can work with plastic tubes but not metal. Metal tubes require a specialized piece of equipment.
Q: Are there any special tips for getting a beautiful tube?
A: We recommend adding a foil seal to the mouth of the tube, under the cap. These pressure seals provide a measure of confidence with your customers that your tubes have not been tampered with, and too, it prevents any accidental spills or leakage. Your packaging provider can help you with selecting the right seal.
We also recommend you have labels put on—or silk screened if you’re doing that, before we run the tubes through the machine. Hand labeling is something we do, but it’s more expensive and time-consuming than having the tubes sent pre-labeled.
Q: Are there different qualities of tubes? What works best?
A: – Tube quality varies greatly and if the walls of your tubes are too thin the crimping seal doesn’t easily match up which can cause your label to twist. Also, the tube can burst under pressure. We recommend tubes with five-layer thickness. You can always send us 10-12 of your tubes (and really, any package you want us to fill) and let us take a look.
Q: What about labels? Is silk-screening better than paper labels?
A: Your brand will be the primary decision driver as to whether to use silk screening or paper labels. If your product gets used at the beach or a triathlon, silk screening will likely hold up better than something like a coated paper. If your product is sold in high-end spas and boutiques, a quality gloss label might be better. Waterproof labels are also available.
Silk screening, especially if it’s not a high-quality printing, can get banged around in shipping, filling and handling, so you’ll want to use a good quality printer.
Let’s talk Jars!
We love jars. They vary so much from a simple PET plastic bottle (remember to only purchase PET if choosing plastic) with a disc cap to a gorgeous emerald green glass jar in a trapezoidal shape with a cork stopper. Jars have their own challenges, but because we have a skilled hand-filling and hand-labeling team, we can usually accommodate unusual and unique jars, including hinged tops and cork stoppers.
Q: What size jars can EWL fill?
A:We hand-fill .5ml makeup jars, and depending on the shape and quantity, we can hand-fill or line-fill .10ml, 1 oz., 2 oz., 4 oz. and 8 oz. jars. When we say line fill, we mean using our equipment to speed up the filling rather than relying on manually filling each jar.
If your jar is a different size, say 3.4 oz. or 6 oz., or 20 oz., we can hand-fill them, so don’t worry about limiting your choices. Pick what’s right for your business.
Q: Is it more cost-effective to use the line to fill rather than hand filling?
A: That’s a good question. Essential hand-fills runs of less than 5,000 pieces, so for smaller runs, you get hand filling no matter the size or shape of your jar. Once you’re over 5,000 pieces, and if your jar is round, is not glass, and fits our ‘pucks’, then it can be more affordable to have your jars line filled.
Some products, like the Dream Crème or our Virgin Coconut Scrub, are too thick for the line. We hand-fill all scrubs and body polishes because the consistency doesn’t work on the line. For thin liquids, like Micellar Water or Peppermint Toner, we will sometimes hand-fill larger production runs because the thinner liquids can drip and mess up labels on the bottles. Lotions, foundations, crèmes and products of that type of consistency are perfect for the automated equipment.
Q: What about glass jars? Or jars with sensitive labels? Can I request hand-fill?
A: Absolutely. Just let your Account Executive know when you’re getting a quote to quote your run as a hand-fill. We always hand-fill glass, but can use an automated labeler and heat tunnel to apply labels and shrink band as requested.
Odd-shaped jars are always hand-filled, as are those with hinged lids, or unusual openings.
Bottles can be amazingly beautiful or profoundly practical. When you’re determining packaging for your product, considering how your bottle will be filled and labeled may be an important factor in your final selection.
Q: Are there any bottle shapes and sizes you can’t work with?
A: Generally speaking, no. As with jars, we can manually fill just about anything you want us to. Line filling is more limited; we can fill round bottles in 1oz., 2 oz., 4 oz., 8., oz. sizes on the line. Anything smaller or not round or bigger will likely be a hand-fill job. While we cannot fill lipstick tubes, we partner with several filling houses so we can get your product filled easily.
The real decision point between manually filling and line filling is the diameter of the opening. Most bottles will have a wide mouth, but some, like a ketchup bottle, may taper to a fine tip. We fill bottles on the line if their opening is greater than 10 mm or 3/8.’’
Q: I want to add a ‘reducer’ so that the liquid in the bottle doesn’t just pour out. Can you add a reducer to my bottles?
A: Absolutely. We manually add these during filling. They’re great for splashes, EO’s and other thin products, like Micellar Water and Toners.
Q: Do I need a pressure seal on my bottle?
A: We recommend adding a pressure or heat seal to bottles. This prevents leakage—especially important if you’re going to use Fulfill by Amazon. It’s also nice for your customers; they know their products haven’t been tampered with.
Q: What types of lids should I use on my bottles? Are there any types of lids you can’t work with?
A: Because we have trained staff working on a manual fill line as well as the machine line, we can accommodate most any lid. We most often see disc caps, screw caps, sprayers, and treatment pumps, but if you have something in mind, just let us know, and we’ll let you know what we can do.
Q: Can you fill tottles? They are popular today.
A: Tottles are certainly popular. We hand-fill tottles, no matter how large the run. We can add lanyards, clips or carabineers, after the fact if you like. Tottles are popular for promotional items, and these often require add-ons after the filling.
There’s more to a label than your brand’s logo. Check out our labeling guideline for information on compliance and labeling best practices. In terms of how labels are applied, Shane and Kathy will share a few key pieces of data to give you the best result.
Q: When Essential applies the labels to my product, do I need to supply the labels?
A: In 99% of cases, our customers provide the labels. You stay you in control of your label design and language, and final look and feel. We can recommend designers to help you if you need design assistance. We can provide a compliance review on your labels, too.
Packing and Distribution
Once your products are packaged and labeled, it’s time to ship them out to market. We offer case packing, master packing, and multiple-ship address capabilities. We aren’t a fulfillment house and can’t offer pick-pack and ship, but we do have partnerships with fulfillment houses and can help you coordinate that.
Q: My distribution partner requires a double seal? Can you shrink band for me?
A: Absolutely. We have several pieces of equipment to shrink band and secure your products. We work with a custom shrink band company so if you need to shrink band in multiple quantities, we can help. People use shrink bands for Buy one-get free, travel size packs, or a domed shrink band for perfect second barrier. We can procure custom shrink bands to get perfect bands for you.
Q: My distribution centers require lot coding. Do you do this?
A: Yes. We provide an Essential Wholesale & Labs “lot code” for every product based on our numbering. If you need or want a specific lot code style, such as including an expiry date or a ‘best used by’ date, we can accommodate that for a small fee. Just let your Account Executive know.
Q: Can you accommodate Fulfillment by Amazon requirements?
A: Yes. However, that yes is a bit qualified. Different products need to meet different requirements. And different distribution centers may have different needs. We ask that you provide the requirements for your products, which may include double-sealing, special bagging, barcode labeling on boxes, and so forth.
If you know what you need, just let your Account Executive know, and we can make it work for you. We’re happy to have our production team on a call with you to figure out the best way to meet your needs.
Q: Do you provide drop-ship fulfillment services?
A: We don’t. We can arrange to ship your order to a two or three locations, but we do not provide end-user distribution services. We’re happy to refer you to a fulfillment center.
Putting it all together
We know your packaging, labeling and distribution requirements are as important as your product quality and consistency. We hope these guidelines give you some insight as to how best to work with us, and we hope they give you confidence in our ability to meet your needs, no matter how particular.
Our behind-the-scenes team is always ready to meet and discuss your specific needs. Just let your Account Executive know and we can coordinate for you.
If you have other questions we can answer, please let us know.
Thanks for sharing, Shane and Kathy!
Customer Care Team