Selecting the right Case Packer: Six Important Factors
There are many styles of case packers available for today’s operations including top-load, wrap-around, robotic, side load and bottom load packers. The need for a new packer may be driven by higher line speeds, efficiency initiatives, or new packaging requirements. On the other hand, it may simply be to replace an aging, high maintenance machine. Regardless of reasons, if you are in a search for a new case packer for your business, these are the factors you should consider before making a decision.
- Type of Case:
Identifying the type of case for the packaging application is the starting point for determining the optimal case packer. There are dozens of case types, and these are the most common ones: 1) top load RSC (regular slotted container); 2) side-load RSC or end load RSC, and 3) wraparound. If the product is already in the market, product marketers or retailers may be reluctant to implement any changes, and in this situation, case type is predetermined. Liquor stores, for example, prefer RSC top load cases over wraparound, as the RSC case is convenient for customers who buy several bottles. However, when case type is not predetermined, the best case should protect the primary container while economizing on the corrugated material. Top load RSC cases have the best stacking strength and are ideal for products that can be compressed, such as pouches, large PET bottles, personal care and trigger bottles. Wraparound cases are a good alternative where bottle or product protection is not that important. Also, they can sometimes require fewer square inches of corrugated in comparison to RSC cases.
- Primary Product:
The type of container (or primary product) will almost always influence the packer type. Top load case packers are mostly used for bottles, pouches, and various boxed products. Side load case packers are often used for boxed products like dry pasta or bars of soap because pushing the product from the side is easier then top loading. Wraparound style packers are used for larger items, such as #10 metal food cans or wheels of cheese. Bottom load packers are recommended for the larger products such as outdoor grills. They are used when the primary product needs to be handled carefully, as the case is pushed over the product.
- Line Speeds:
The rate of the line is a key factor when selecting the correct packer. It is dictated by the upstream filling or processing. Choosing a packer with enough speed is important, however too much speed may be an unnecessary cost. In general, speeds up to 20 cases per minute can be achieved effectively with our TT-1200 top load case packer, or our TT-1400 case packing module. For speeds up to 30 cases per minute our TT-1300 case packer is a good choice. Make sure to carefully consider a packers infeed and collation technology, as this becomes critical at higher speeds.
- Machine Load:
When selecting a case packer, make sure that it is designed for the job. The best way to determine this is to see one running a similar application. Weight of the product being handled, true production rates, and runtime per week are factors that must be considered. Even if you conclude that your application requires a truly robust solution, keep in mind that although the initial cost may be higher, the reduced life-cycle costs will justify the initial investment. Find a supplier who has a proven solution for the specific application requirements.
- Floor Space:
Some solutions can take up more space than others and since the plant floor space is a premium, you also need to look for a solution that is compact. Our TT-1400 case packing module is our most compact solution that can be integrated into almost any packaging line. TT-1200 top load case packer is one of our smallest “stand-alone” case packers, while TT-1300, although pretty compact, demands a bit more floor space. Robotic case packers are also space efficient, but you must consider the guarding requirements in the layout.
- Changeover and Flexibility:
Time is money, and every second of downtime counts, even if the downtime is due to the necessary changeover. A good case packer should be flexible and it should feature the fastest changeover possible. All of our case-packing solutions are built with the idea of increasing uptime and they feature quick changeovers in order to achieve maximum efficiency.
Consider all of the factors above when selecting a case packer. Get in the field to see similar applications running and select the right tool for the job. If you choose wisely, the value of having good line efficiencies and low life-cycle costs will far outweigh the initial investment.