June, 2017 | Tishma Technologies, LLC

What can we learn from K-cups?

The most popular K-Cup packaging application is, definitely, as a single-serve coffee container for coffee brewing. If you decided to join many brands that utilize K-Cups, you made a wise decision, since today, many homes and offices have K-Cup machines for individual serving size and flavors.

K-Cups brought revolution. The coffee pods’ share of total coffee sales in 2000 was almost negligible, but, with the launch of K-Cups, this market was taken by storm, commanding a strong 34% share of total coffee sales in 2014.


K-Cups are also an inspiring topic in terms of packaging. There are many significant lessons we can learn by just looking at K-Cups, their development, and principles they apply. So, what are the most important lessons we can extract?


  1. The package as an innovation – Be creative


Innovative packaging can change the way consumers perceive a product, and it can also help a product penetrate new markets. Just like stick pack revolutionized the way we use sugar (learn more here), Keurig’s coffee machines and K-cups brought a whole new way of brewing coffee, creating a new market.

Lesson? Be creative and persistent with your ideas! In the beginning, creators of K-cups were making the pods by hand. The prototype brewing machines were also a work in progress and unreliable, and the company needed funds for development. After pitching to numerous potential investors, they finally obtained $50,000 from Minneapolis-based investor Food Fund in 1994, and later the Cambridge-based fund MDT Advisers contributed $1,000,000.

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  1. Space-saving – Be economic

K-cups are transported and stored in carton boxes and they need to be packed in a certain manner that saves space. Good K-Cup packaging system can invert every-other cup, so the cups interleave and minimize space usage in the box. That means more K-cups can fit into one carton. This is exactly how you should treat your floor space when you are acquiring any type of industrial line. No matter how big your space is, you don’t want to clutter it with huge machines and massive pieces of equipment. Find a manufacturer that can meet your specific needs and develop a custom solution with respect to your floor space.



  1. Recycling – Be eco-friendly


As fascinating as they are, K-cups fail when it comes to recycling. The K-cup system has a lot of pretty demanding technical requirements in terms of being able to withstand a certain amount of temperature, to have a certain kind of rigidity, to provide the right kind of moisture barriers and oxygen barriers etc. So, recycling isn’t the simplest challenge. Keurig has been publicly criticized by environmental advocates and journalists for the billions of non-recyclable and non-biodegradable K-Cups consumers’ purchase and dispose of every year, which end up in landfills. Don’t let this happen to you! Being eco-friendly and taking care of the environment is one of the top requirements for companies in the 21st century, so make sure your packaging is recyclable or biodegradable.


  1. Authenticity – Stick with the original


Only licensed and standardized K-cups can be used with Keurig’s coffee machines. There are a large number of unlicensed coffee pods on the market and even though they are cheaper, their use is not recommended as they can damage your coffee machine. Use of strictly licensed K-cups may seem expensive in the short term, but in the long term, it saves money because it makes your coffee machine last longer. Same goes for purchasing printer cartridges, mobile phone chargers or spare parts for an industrial machine – always buy from a reliable manufacturer. This is the only way to be sure that materials or add-ons you bought are fully compatible with the system you already have.


After going through these lessons, it is no longer a surprise that K-cups are such a success. If you are in the coffee brewing business and want to get your share of profit in this market, your next step is finding the right packaging system that will allow you to quickly pack and ship your K-Cups to the final users.

The most important requirement for K-Cup packaging machines is being able to handle the cups coming in, top –up, at a very high rate of speed (sometimes up to 900 cups per minute) and inverting every-other cup in order to save space.

Start by checking out Tishma Technologies TT-50 vertical cartoner. Our 50 Series cartoners feature user-friendly PLC’s combined with mechanical, state-of-the-art simplicity, and besides K-Cups, they are also very convenient for Fruit Cups and Yogurt packaging.

Palette of pallet use

In the world of packaging, simpler answers are usually the best. Take a pallet for an example. The pallet is a relatively plain flat structure used as a base for the unitization of the products in the supply chain. The MH1-2016 standard defines the pallet as a “portable, horizontal, rigid, composite platform used as a base for assembling, storing, stacking, handling and transporting goods as a unit load; often equipped with a superstructure.” In the beginning, boxes were manually placed on a pallet, but today, there is a vast choice of automated and robotic Palletizers, Depalletizers, and palletizing systems

Pallets are used to stack, store, protect, and transport materials, and they are being handled by forklifts, pallet jacks or conveyors. The pallet is the most common base of the unit load, which includes pallet and goods stacked on top of it, usually secured with stretch wrap, strapping, shrink wrap, adhesive tapes, pallet collar, or other means of stabilization.

Pallets are commonly reusable since reuse of pallets provides a lower cost per transportation and less impact on the surroundings. We always recommend putting in a better quality pallet that will last longer, offering a lower cost per use rather than cheaper alternatives. Savings accomplished this way can be invested in a solid, economical and efficient palletizing system that will match your needs.

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Pallets can be made from a variety of materials. The first association is wood, providing an excellent value in terms of cost and execution. It is stiff, easily fabricated into various sizes, and most of all – inexpensive. Other materials are also valued, mostly because they don’t fall under ISPM 15 requirements. Plastic pallets are prized for their durability and ease of cleaning. Paper pallets are popular because of their cleanliness, lightweight, and ease of recycling.  Wood composite pallets are also excluded from ISPM 15 requirements and they provide a stiff, fair priced product which can be easily recycled.  Metal pallets are also present, particularly in applications where pallet strength and durability are required.


Pallets can significantly improve shipping and stacking logistics, but the manual placing of products on the pallet is time-consuming and stressful for the workers, which is why various palletizing solutions and systems are being utilized instead.

A Palletizer or palletizing machine is a machine which automatically stacks cases of goods or products onto a pallet.

The first mechanized Palletizer was designed, built, and installed in 1948 by a company formerly known as Lamson Corp.

The first type of mechanized Palletizer was the row-forming Palletizer which was introduced in the early 1950s. In row-forming palletizing application, loads are first arranged on a row forming area. Then, they are being moved to a seperate area where layers are formed. This process repeats until a full layer of goods and products are ready to be placed on a pallet.

The in-line Palletizer was developed in the 1970s when higher speeds were required for palletizing. This Palletizer type uses a continuous motion flow divider that guides the cases of products into the desired area on the layer forming platform.

Robotic Palletizers were introduced in the early 1980s. These Palletizers have an end of arm tool (end effector) used to grab the product from a conveyor or layer table and position it onto a pallet. Robotic Palletizers can be seen in many industries including food processing, manufacturing, and shipping.   Different end-of-arm-tools allow flexibility and different types of robot palletization. For example, bag grippers grab an item and support it on the bottom, while suction and magnetic grippers usually handle more ridged items and grip them from the top. Robotic Palletizers changed the purpose of the worker as well: the worker went from a manual ordering of boxes on a pallet to a Palletizer operator.


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We are sure that you have already embraced the use of pallets for shipping and stacking of your products, but do you have an appropriate palletizing solution? There are many Palletizer manufacturers, but make sure to check Tetristack Robotic Palletizers by Tishma Technologies, a robotic palletizing system built to meet your palletizing needs and your floor space.

When the Army sets the standards – History of pallet use

Pallets and pallet handling emerged in the 20th Century, representing one of the most important logistics tools. Over the past century, pallets continued to evolve, therefore enabling the growth of modern logistics. Utilization of pallets allows for significant efficiency improvements in the handling and transport of unit loads instead of loose stacking of goods. During World War 2, some additional refinements were added to pallet design and management.

The Office of The Quartermaster General, Field Operations Branch of the Storage Division, was the first to take steps in developing new warehouse handling and warehousing methods. They were faced with the responsibility and pressure: their new methods had to sustain quick results. At the time, one manufacturer was able to deliver a quantity of a fork truck with a load capacity of 2000 lb.  As a result, the system was predicated on this particular truck, and the pallet of the Quartermaster Corps was made to fit that truckload capacity. A standard Quartermaster pallet is 32 in. long and 40 in. wide.  A million or more of these were procured and placed in service within a year.

With time, manufacturers of fork trucks increased their output and the Quartermaster General procured the larger trucks for all services, causing the role of larger pallets more common.

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The Navy set out its materials handling program in 1942.  By this time the manufacturers of fork trucks were in quantity production, so the Navy obtained more of the larger trucks with load capacity up to 15,000 lb.  This is why the pallets used for inter-depot and overseas shipment are bigger: they are standardized on the 48 x 48 in. for inter-depot and overseas shipment, and 42 x 66 in. pallet for the intra-depot movements


Some experts predict that somewhere between one million and three million pallets will be disposed of by the government once they are no longer needed for supplies storing by the Army. The largest volume will be in the 32 x 40 in., 48 x 48 in. and the 42 x 66 in. sizes. Some of the 42 x 66 in. pallets will be picked up by stevedoring companies for use in marine terminals, and other pallet sizes will be used by manufacturers who are now learning the value of this shipment.


Before the armed services procured so many pallets, industry had been thinking about building pallets of light, cheap construction, so-called “single shippers,” made to carry one load and then be discarded as scrap lumber, but since a large surplus of pallets is expected, this cheap “single shipper” type of pallet will not be developed.  Instead, the industry is probably going to absorb the surplus pallets.


If you utilize pallets for shipping and stacking of your products, you are well aware that manually placing boxes on pallets can be time-consuming and expensive; it can also put unusual stress on workers. If you still haven’t considered investing in a good, automated palletizing system built to meet your needs, check out robotic pallets by Tishma Technologies.

From Top Hat to a Case

When you hear the term “cardboard box”, what is the first thing that crosses your mind? Do you recall the last time when you helped a friend move to a new place? Or your does your mind wonders off to the excitement of opening the last order you made on Amazon? Cardboard boxes became a symbol of change, transport, efficiency, and protection. But who is responsible for this simple, yet important innovation, and when did this innovation occur?

Corrugated (also called pleated) paper was patented in England in 1856, and at first it was used as a liner for tall hats. It wasn’t until 20th of December, 1871, when corrugated boxboard was patented and used as a material for shipping containers. A patent for single-sided corrugated board was issued to Albert Jones from New York City who used the corrugated board for wrapping bottles and glass lantern chimneys. Three years later, Oliver Long improved Jones’s design by adding liner sheets on both sides of the corrugated board and that is the design that prevailed until today.

The first machine for producing large quantities of the corrugated board was built in 1874 by G. Smyth, but almost 15 years had to pass from that moment until this new material was used to create a case packaging.

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Credits for this invention go to Robert Gair, who invented the pre-cut cardboard box in 1890. Gair accidentally came to this invention. He was a Brooklyn printer and paper-bag maker during the 1870s, and one day, while he was printing an order of seed bags, a metal ruler which is used to crease bags changed position and cut them. Gair discovered that by cutting and creasing at the same time he could make prefabricated paperboard boxes and this idea was applied to corrugated boxboard when the material became available around the turn of the twentieth century.


In 1915 John Van Wormer of Toledo, Ohio, was granted the patent for the first “paper bottle,” – folded blank box for holding milk he called “Pure-Pak.” Innovation at the time lied in the fact that milk carton could be folded, glued, filled with milk, and sealed at a dairy farm. During the early 1960s, many automated systems were developed, in order to help with the production of repeatable processes.

The rise of lightweight flaked cereals increased the use of cardboard boxes and the first company to use cardboard boxes as cereal cartons was the Kellogg Company.

It is interesting that during all this time Japan was way ahead of Europe and the USA when it comes to the use of cardboard boxes. Japanese silk manufacturers have been using them since 1840 for transporting the Bombyx mori moth and its eggs from Japan to Europe and for more than a century the manufacture of cardboard boxes was a major industry in the area.

Today, cardboard cases are widely used for shipping and stacking of various goods. Close to 100 billion boxes are produced each year in the U.S. Imagine all the time and money that can be saved if each of those boxes was filled by efficient and economical packaging systems! For more on Tishma Technologies case packaging systems, please click here.