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Making the Case for Automated Case Packing

So many things in life have become more efficient thanks to more automated technology. Take word processing, for instance, and just think of how much faster it is to type a letter on computer rather than hand write it out the old fashioned way. Think of how much faster and more efficient it is to send an e-mail than to mail one via the postal service. These increased efficiencies can't be disputed - and these increased efficiencies don't just impact our daily personal lives, but industry as well.
Case in point (no pun intended) is when it comes to case packing - there's the manual way of doing it and the automatic way of doing it. Case packing is essentially the process of placing packaged product into corrugated cases so that they can be transported to the end user or stores for placement. We probably don't need to tell you how much faster it is to purchase automated equipment for your facility to carry out this work. This post will take a closer look at automated case packing equipment, the types of equipment and just what they can do to increase your efficiency and take your business to that next level.
Why Use Automated Packing?
As we noted in the opening, automated case packing can increase the efficiency and productivity of your packing operations in your facility - characteristics that represent the big payoff behind this technology. There are many reasons why a plant manager might elect to bring automated packing into their plant. These reasons may include:
• Attempting to transition from a small or medium sized company to a large one without significantly adding more labor (i.e. wanting to add a third shift, for example.)
• Feeling the pinch of higher labor costs and bringing in technology to help curb this. And yes, while purchasing this type of equipment comes with a high cost, most companies can recoup these upfront costs in a matter of months due to the increase in efficiency.
• The desire to create a safer, more sustainable working environment - as automated packing equipment enhances safety in the workplace and also helps minimize scrap and waste.
Types of Automated Case Packers
Having trouble deciding what type of automated case packer is right for your facility's operations? There are four main types of case packing technologies to choose from. Here is a closer look at each of them:
• Top load case packers: Fitting to the name, top load case packers load items through the top of an RSC, or regular slotted carton, wraparound or other sort of case. Many top load case packers have multiple stops throughout the line, allowing packagers to fill multiple layers or types of products at various load stations. Most top load case packers are all-in-one machines that also have small footprints. Many even seal the cases with either glue or tape so that they're ready to leave the factory floor upon completion.
• Side load case packers: Just as how top load case packers load product into RSCs from the top, side load case packers load product in from the side. Side load case packers are ideal for confectionary, food and beverage, personal care, nutritional and pharmaceutical products, among others. Like top load case packers, side load machines also often seal the case by gluing or taping the RSCs after they've been filled. Side load case packers may also be referred to as end load packers, as some models fill product into the RSC through the end.
• Robotic case packers: In terms of footprint, robotic case packers take up the smallest overall space on the plant floor. These types of case packers are also ideal for plants that want to maximize changeovers and flexibility.
• Wraparound case packers: These machines pack product from either the side or the top of the wraparound. Like robotic packers, wraparound packers usually utilize minimal space on the plant floor. These types of packers also typically are more affordable to run, as they minimize the cost of corrugated material. Cost per unit is also normally decreased and wraparound packers offer better consistency and efficiency when it comes to palletizing.
Aside from the aforementioned four types of case packers, it's worth noting that there are also optional add-on accessories that can be installed on the equipment to make them even more efficient on the factory floor.
Benefits of Automated Case Packers
As we've mentioned regularly throughout this piece, the big benefit of automated case packing is the streamlining in efficiency of packing operations. As productivity increases, the time and labor decreases, which becomes a win-win for a plant manager. Automated case packing equipment is able to perform more repetitions in less time than it would take to do manually, and because of the streamline in efficiency, changeovers are short, there's less room for error and less waste generated as a result. What's more is that while automated case packing equipment is expensive, most plants can recoup the upfront costs in less than six months after installation due to the increase in efficiency and productivity.
While case packing machines vary in efficiency by model and style, it's not uncommon for most top load case packers to be able to handle about 10 cpm or 20 picks per minute. Side load case packers range from about 10 cases per minute to in the neighborhood of 85 cases or trays per minute. Robotic case packers are said to be the most efficient case packing device, as most have the ability to process about 100 or so packages or cases per minute. These numbers are far more efficient than what it would take to complete these operations manually - and this is even more so the case when you consider the optional add-ons that are able to make these automated case packers even more efficient.

While automated case packers have a place in terms of increasing efficiency when it comes to facility operations, it's also worth noting that these machines are expensive and can range anywhere from a few thousand dollars to hundreds of thousands of dollars in cost. While the payoff and ROI of bringing these machines in house is evident, these upfront costs may be a little too much for many businesses. That's where a quality, previously owned machine can come in handy - as you can acquire a quality machine and begin to immediately reap the benefits of such, for a used price.
For more information on automated case packing equipment, and to browse our selection of previously owned equipment, contact Bid on Equipment today.