Automated Case Packers for Error Free Operation
A CASE TO SUIT EVERY NEED
If you produce packaged goods, especially for the consumer market, then you should be familiar with case packers already. For the un-initiated, case packing is the term to indicate the orderly filling and sealing of finished goods into a shippable form. A case packer is the piece of automated, or semi-automated equipment that can erect a container, load it up with the goods to be shipped, and seal the loaded package. To be clear about the terminology, the package that the consumer sees which contains the finished goods (a tin of cookies, a small box containing a fancy glass vial of perfume, metal pressurized spray cans, lightweight folded paperboard boxes for lightbulbs, etc.) is referred to as the primary packaging. The large cardboard box that serves to aggregate and package a fixed number of the finished goods for shipment is known as the secondary packaging or the case.
If the volume of product you deliver daily is not a bottle neck for your operation, then the three main processes of case packing can be done manually. First is to erect the case. It is usually a folded flattened cardboard box. When it is erected, it has a rectangular body and four flaps on both the bottom and top. In simple terms, erecting the case means to open it up, and hot glue the bottom flaps closed while holding the case so that the edges are perfectly square. The next step is to pack the finished goods neatly in the required quantity and the final step is to hot glue the top flaps closed, again paying attention to keeping the corners square. Note that sometimes tape, rather than hot glue is used to close the box.
STEPPING UP THE PROCESS
If the volume of product and/or the amount of manual labor starts to put a strain on production output, it’s time to start looking at automation solutions. Erecting a case is probably the best, first step to automation of the process. It sounds simple to open up a case, and hot glue the bottom flaps while holding the whole assembly perfectly square. However, it’s a lot easier to say than to do. Any irregularities from case to case will become readily evident when they are getting loaded on to a pallet. Out-of-square boxes leave gaps, so they don’t fill the pallet space neatly. Gluing irregularities may cause the case to “sit up” a little on an edge, meaning that subsequent rows will not be even. Some minor fixturing can help with these problems, but then you might as well invest in a case erector at that point. Alternatively you may already have an existing case erector that has been in service for several years. It might be worthwhile to look into an upgrade to add flexibility to your secondary packaging operation, add some capacity, or allow for different case sizes. Either way, CRG Automation is an expert in upgrades as well as start-from-scratch designs for case erecting and case packing.
THE CASE FOR PACKING
There are so many types of products available that it seems there are almost an infinite number of possible ways to design a packing method. If you are at the point that you are seriously considering a full case packing solution, it probably means that this equipment is in the critical path of your production. It’s definitely time to talk to an expert. As part of your preparation for this meeting, here are a few things you will need to know in order to ask the right questions.
One of the first things to note is the characteristics of the product going into a case. The attributes that are important are the rigidity, uniformity, fragility, and required pack pattern or patterns, if there are more than one. The answers to these questions will make a big difference in the style of machine best suited for your application. Since this packing operation is on or near to critical path, the speed in terms of cases per hour will definitely be a key objective.
And without surge capacity you can’t cover for any spike in demand. You want to be as accurate as you can with these numbers, because that will affect the type of equipment, degree of automation and whether certain steps will be continuous or intermittent. This also will have an effect on the overall budget.
As you develop a better sense of the capabilities that you will require and the budget needed don’t forget any special needs you may have. If your market is seasonal for example you want a fully commissioned case packer ready before your peak season. If you have different case sizes for the same product then the changeover time between sizes could be important. Your existing space could be limited, or you may have a semi-automated line that needs to be fully automated or you’re just aiming for an improved production rate.
Before you make any commitments make sure that your operators and technicians are comfortable with the technologies that are part of the equipment, particularly from the service aspects. Parts availability also is important especially if you are in a remote location, and it may even make sense to stock certain parts especially if they tend to have a higher failure rate. This also brings up the question of training and service support. You will want it to be clear if those costs are included and to what level of support?
CRG Automation has decades of experience in the design, build and integration of case packers and case erectors for a diverse line of consumer products. The design, build and integration of case packing systems to meet your needs, is what we do. We’ll even help you find the right case manufacturer and size that works for your product. Your success is as important to us as it is to you.
Our designs use steel frames for robust and long lasting equipment. All major components that may need adjustment or maintenance are accessible. Adjustments can be servo driven for fast and easy changeovers. Installations are safety rated to category 3 (self-check for faults and redundant safety circuits).
In addition, CRG has extensive experience in integrating the following:
· Robotic palletizers
· Stretch Wrapping Systems
· Reject off loaders
· Labeling/Printing systems
· Metal detectors and x-ray systems
· Infeed product conveyors
· Downstream product and pallet conveyors
For decades, CRG has been innovating in the case packing space; saving their clients both time and money. They happily take on challenges that other companies turn away. Their ultimate goal is an economical and reliable solution that serves your needs