10 min read

What Are Folder-Gluer Packaging Equipment & Which Machine is Best For You?

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If you’ve been searching for ways to improve your folder-gluer's productivity and speed up your packing, you've probably come across several solutions.

Collecting Tables, Semi-Automatic Collectors, Packing Help Stations, Packers, and Stackers are just some examples of the many solutions on the market.

And different packaging equipment suppliers offer distinct solutions with varying features, capabilities, and levels of automation.

Having all those options is great, but the reality is that companies are so busy with their day-to-day operations that they do not have the time, or energy, to reach out to the sales team of multiple companies to assess their options.

Unfortunately, this leads companies to choose the most convenient partner rather than the best fitting partner.

And the result?

Well, companies quickly realize that this partner is a bad apple or that their solution does not do what they expected it to do.

And we have seen this time and time again.

At IMPACK, we’re committed to providing box manufacturers with all the information they need to know to make the most educated decision for their production. 

Even if that means not choosing IMPACK. 

In this article, you’ll learn 👇:

  • What Are Packaging Equipment?
  • The 4 Categories of Packaging Equipment
  • Which Packaging Equipment is Best For You & How to Choose?

What Are Folder-Gluer Packaging Equipment?

The Prefio, MFA, Virtuo and Everio machines

Folder-gluer packaging equipment are the packing systems and peripheral devices that can be added on, and around, a folder-gluer.

Packing systems are the automation solutions added to a folder-gluer. For example: Folder-gluer packers and stackers

Peripheral devices are the additional solutions that can complement the packing systems added to a folder-gluer. For example: Pre-feeders, box turners, batch inverters, and counting and separating devices.

These packing systems and peripheral devices altogether makeup the 4 families of packaging equipment: 

  1. Pre-feeders.
  2. Pre-packers.
  3. Packers.
  4. Stackers.

The image below shows you the organization of the 4 families of packaging equipment around a folder-gluer. 

folder gluer placement

A graphical depiction of the flow of packaging equipment around a folder-gluer.

Each of those 4 families includes distinct solutions with varying features, capabilities, and levels of automation

We classify those levels of automation into 4 categories:

  1. Manual packing.
  2. Semi-Automated packing.
  3. Automated packing.
  4. Fully-Automated packing.

🔍 Related: Thinking of adding packaging equipment to your folder-gluer? Learn about the 4 different levels of automation and how to choose the best machine for your production.

Now that we’ve clearly defined the broad term “folder-gluer packaging equipment,” and what it encompasses, let’s explore each family individually and examine the solutions they have to offer!

The 4 Families of Folder-Gluer Packaging Equipment

What is a Pre-Feeder?

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IMPACK’s Prefio: One of the only pre-feeders on the market for corrugated board.

A pre-feeder is a unit installed in front of a folder-gluer, and before the feeder, that continuously feeds the folder-gluer’s feeder. 

More specifically, a pre-feeder is installed at the beginning of the folder-gluer as shown in the image below. 

5-Process-Pre-feederCROPPED

A pre-feeder is installed in front of a folder-gluer and before all other packaging equipment.

💡 Purpose: Pre-feeding equipment allow the folder-gluer’s feeder to run at a higher speed, with a perfect stack height, and without damaging the box blanks. 

IMPACK’s pre-feeder is the Prefio: The smallest pre-feeder for corrugated board on the market.

What is a Pre-Packer?

MFA and IN3

IMPACK's MFA Batch Inverter and the IN3 Box Turner installed after the folder-gluer and before the packer (Both units are pre-packers).

A pre-packer is a unit installed right after the folder-gluer, and before the packer, as depicted in the image below. 

Most often, several pre-packer units are installed after the folder-gluer. 

Those pre-packers include box turners, batch inverters, and counting and separating devices

2-Process-Pre-packerCROPPED

A pre-packer is installed right after the folder-gluer and before a packer.

💡 Purpose: Pre-packing equipment allow you to prepare the shingle (overlapped stream of boxes) in the right orientation before it enters the case packing process. This way each shingle can be packed into the cases with the right orientation and in the most efficient way possible. 

IMPACK’s pre-packers are the IN Series box turners, MFA and Alterna batch inverters, and the INTRO, OBP, and OBS counting and separating devices.

🔍 Related: What is a Box Turner and Do I Really Need One?

The only exception is if you own IMPACK’s Ergosa A packer which already includes a built-in IN2 or INH box turner as part of the Ergosa A package.

As for the other types of pre-packing equipment, it all depends on your production, box sizes, product mix, and format restrictions. 

A batch inverter is typically added to a packer when you are producing high volumes of crash-lock/auto-bottom boxes (~30-50 million per year or less in some situations).

A counting and separating device is added to a packer if you have an IN2 or IN3 box turner and when the kicker counter from the folder-gluer is lost in the shingle after the turn.

IMPACK's new INH box turner is built specifically to keep this kicker counter visible, thus removing the need for an alternate counter solution!

What is a Packer?

erg

IMPACK’s Ergosa C: A high-performance and versatile semi-automatic packer with the performance of an automatic packer that offers 3 packing modes.

A packer is a unit installed behind a folder-gluer and after the pre-packer(s). 

That is, a packer is installed at the end of the flow of the gluing line. 

packer placement

A packer is installed behind the folder-gluer and after the pre-packer i.e. after all other packaging equipment.

💡 Purpose: A packer utilizes a modernized packing technology that allows you to dramatically improve the efficiency, ergonomy, and productivity of how you pack your boxes into cases by offering you automated case management capabilities. 

In other words, a packer optimizes your case packing process by automating certain actions involved in the case packing.

IMPACK’s packers are the Ergosa packer and the Virtuo packer. 

🔍 Related: What is a Folder-Gluer Packer and Who Needs One?

What is a Stacker?

everio

IMPACK’s Everio: A fully automatic stacker to stack and band your boxes coming from folder-gluer(s) or rotary die cutters.

Just like a packer, a stacker is installed behind a folder-gluer and after the pre-packer(s). 

More specifically, a stacker is installed at the end of the flow of a typical gluing line as demonstrated in the image below.

Process Diagram showing where Stacker is placed

A stacker is installed behind the folder-gluer and after the pre-packer i.e. after all other packaging equipment.

Depending on your production processes, you either pack your boxes into cases (i.e. case packing) using a packer or stack your boxes to be banded/strapped together (i.e. box bundling) using a stacker.

In other words, you would either have a packer or a stacker after the pre-packer(s) but some clients do both processes on the same folder-gluer.

💡 Purpose: A stacker utilizes a modernized bundling technology that allows you to bundle your boxes vertically and then send them for banding/strapping.

IMPACK’s stacker is the Everio stacker.

🔍 Related: Folder-Gluer Packers Vs. Stackers: Which Packaging Solution is Best For You?

Which Folder-Gluer Packaging Equipment is Best For You?

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An IMPACK Ergosa packer securely bolted on a pallet and waiting for final packaging before shipping.

So, what packaging machine is right for your company? 

A pre-feeder, pre-packer, packer, or a stacker?

It all boils down to what your needs are.

While there is no correct answer for every company, below are the top 10 questions you should be asking yourself.

PS: If you want to make the smartest decision on your investment in packaging equipment, I’d strongly recommend that you complete the "Preparation Tool" below which will help you become fully equipped to choose the right machine for your production (whether you choose IMPACK or another company).

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Do you now have a better idea of what packaging machine is right for your company’s production?

The most critical part of choosing the right machine for your production is collecting data on your production and analyzing this data. 

This will allow you to identify where bottlenecks are taking place so that you can immediately address them and maximize your folder-gluer’s productivity.

Not sure how to identify your bottlenecks or analyze your data? 

👉 We’re here to help! Request a free productivity analysis from IMPACK’s experts. No commitment required. 

Feeling stuck on whether your company should invest in packaging equipment? 

👉 Read “Do I Need to Invest In Packaging Equipment to Reach Higher Packing Speeds?

If you’ve decided that investing in packaging equipment is the right choice for your company, here are your next steps:

👉 Compare Manual, Semi-Automated, Automated, and Fully-Automated Packers and find out which level of automation is right for you.

👉 Compare IMPACK’s 3 main packaging equipment and discover which machine is best.

👉 Contact an IMPACK expert to get a free productivity analysis and a recommendation on what machine is fit for your company and budget. Plus, you’ll get to see our machines live in action!