When considering how to implement packaging line automation or automation systems, one of the critical factors to evaluate is your current warehouse setup. Packaging needs vary based on your business type, warehouse layout, and the size and quantity of products being shipped.
For instance, a manufacturing facility might produce goods in batches, while an eCommerce fulfillment center may handle single- and multi-item orders.
Some facilities deal with minor or similar-sized items, while others manage large, heavy, or uniquely shaped products. Each situation can benefit from automation but requires a tailored packaging solution for optimal results.
Assessing Your Existing Workflow
Since packaging processes can vary significantly depending on operational needs, the most effective way to enhance your packaging line is to assess your existing workflow thoroughly.
By collaborating with an automated packaging professional, you can take a comprehensive look at your packaging line and create a customized solution that aligns with your product flow, from storage shelves to shipping.
While no two packaging environments are identical, all packaging processes involve data integration, product conveyance, carton creation, product protection, carton assembly, packing, sealing, labeling, sorting, and business intelligence.
Common Types of Packaging Machines
Packaging machines serve various functions, and while there’s no universal categorization, they can be grouped based on their primary roles:
- Box/Carton Machines
- Filling Machines
- Pharmaceutical Packaging
- Wrapping and Sealing Machines
- Labelling Machines
- Packing and Palletizing Machines
These end of the line packaging solutions and categories encompass the main types of packaging machines commonly used by most businesses, with various options available within each category to meet specific packaging needs.
1. Box or Carton Machines
Box and carton packaging machines are crucial in various industries, handling packaging tasks ranging from individual product cartons to larger shipping boxes. These machines are adaptable to the needs of both large-scale industries, where automation speeds up production, and smaller businesses, which may opt for semi-automatic or manual machines.
- Box Erecting
Box and carton erecting machinery constructs boxes, skillets, and trays from blank or pre-cut forms. The automation system machine selects a form from a stack, assembles the box using pre-cut tabs and slots, and inserts internal dividers. The box is then sealed by applying adhesive or activating pre-applied glue on the seams.
- Box Sealing or Tape Machine
After being filled with products, box-sealing machines prepare the boxes for labeling and shipping. These machines employ staples, big sealing tape, or adhesive to close the boxes securely.
Some models also incorporate a cardboard lid that fits over the box. While specific packaging line machines are designed for sealing boxes of uniform size and shape, others can adjust to seal boxes of varying sizes.
- Custom Box Cutting Machines
Custom box-cutting machines are automated systems that calculate the optimal box size for a product, cut and shape corrugated cardboard accordingly, and seal it around the product.
This efficient process minimizes space within the packaging, reducing waste and allowing for more compact packing. As a result, transportation costs and greenhouse gas emissions are lowered.
2. Filling Machines
These machines efficiently fill bottles, cans, pouches, and containers with liquids, solids, or gases. These machines measure the required amount based on weight, preset volume, filling level, or unit count. This system automation can handle containers of all sizes, from small pharmaceutical vials to large chemical drums.
- Liquid Filling
Automatic liquid filling machines use nozzles to fill containers along a production line, often proceeding to sealing and capping machines. Some devices have multiple nozzles to boost production and can be easily scaled up. Semi-automatic versions require a human operator to position the containers, while manual systems include a handle for precise filling.
- Pouch Filling
Pouch-filling devices pour powders and liquids into pre-foma, printed pouches. These pouches are used as the final packaging or placed inside cartons. Automated systems with pouch fillers transport pouches using grippers and inject the correct product amount before sealing. Manual pouch-filling machines are handy, especially for retail outlets.
- Vertical Form Filling
These machines, a variation of pouch fillers, handle the entire filling and sealing process. Often used for food products, they create bags or pouches from a roll of film, fill them, and seal them. Materials like plastic, foil, paper, and fabric can be used.
- Tube Filling
Tube-filling machines pour creams or liquids into laminate, aluminum, or plastic tubes. They seal the tubes with heat or fold and crimp for metal tubes. These packaging line machines are precise and can operate at high speeds.
3. Pharmaceutical Packaging Machines
Pharmaceutical packaging demands precision and operates in sterile, cleanroom environments. Using filling equipment, these machines handle various pharmaceutical products, including powders, pastes, and liquids. The industry relies on blister pack technology for tablets and capsules.
- Strip Packaging
Strip packaging equipment seal capsules or tablets between aluminum foil strips. They feature a feeder system that delivers products to the foil precisely when needed. Heat-sealing automation system rollers press the strips together, creating airtight pockets, which are then cut into the correct size. Most machines include a ‘blind detector’ to identify empty pockets.
4. Wrapping and Sealing
Several machines are designed to wrap and seal products, enveloping them in protective film and sealing cartons, pouches, and boxes.
While smaller businesses may employ manual machines, more extensive production lines typically utilize semi-automatic or fully automatic equipment. Wrapping and sealing safeguard products, ensure hygiene, and make them tamper-resistant.
End of the line packaging solutions like labeling machines affix labels to finished products, enabling companies to include branding and consumer information. Additionally, these machines can apply tracking, shipping, and customs labels to cases and pallets.
6. Packing and Palletizing
Regardless of the company’s products, most are packed into boxes and stacked onto pallets for transportation. This process is labor-intensive, which is why palletizing machinery is becoming increasingly common.
- Case Packing
Case packing machines neatly arrange products inside boxes, preparing them for shipment. This step often occurs right after the packages are formed.
While most system automation machines group products together for packing, some handle individual products that require special care or precise placement—in other instances, packing machines group products together for subsequent shrink-wrapping.
Conveyors are crucial in moving packaged items along the automated production line. They transport products from filling, sealing, and labeling to the packing area. Conveyors can vary from simple tables with rollers, slats, or belts to more intricate sorting and unscrambling machines.
Choose the Best Automated System With Plan It Packaging
The diverse range of packaging machines available means businesses of all sizes can enjoy increased speed and consistency in their operations.
If you’re considering packaging machines, Plan It Packaging offers a variety of options tailored automation systems to meet the needs of different businesses.
Contact us to explore how our machines can enhance efficiency and keep you ahead of the competition.