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Do I Need to Invest In Packaging Equipment to Improve My Folder-Gluer Productivity?

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Are you considering the purchase of packaging equipment to help you improve your folder-gluer’s productivity?

Feeling unsure whether it’s the right decision for your company?

You are not alone. 

Every box manufacturer has been in the same position as you once upon a time. And being in that position can be challenging and frustrating.

As the Director of Sales and Marketing at IMPACK, I have managed over 50 project analysis in more than 20 countries around the world.

During this time, I have seen how small changes can substantially help box manufacturers reach top packing speeds and dramatically improve their folder-gluer’s productivity.

I’ve also seen how poor forward-thinking caused box manufacturers to realize significant losses and sometimes go out of business.

The goal of this article is not to convince you to purchase packaging equipment. In fact, most box manufacturers interested in packaging equipment are not yet ready to invest in packaging equipment. 

This article will cover:

What Are Folder-Gluer Packaging Equipment?

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

These packing systems and peripheral devices are divided into 4 families 👇: 

  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. 

Flow Optimized Resized webp

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.

If you’re considering packaging equipment, you’d want to learn about the 4 different levels of automation and how to choose the best machine for your production.

Also, you’ve probably noticed that some of your competitors have packers while others have stackers

If you’re confused about the difference between packers and stackers, check out the article "Folder-Gluer Packers VS. Stackers: What Packaging Solution is Best For You?" It breaks down those 2 types of packaging equipment and guides you through which one is right for your company.

Where Are Folder-Gluer Packaging Equipment Installed?

Packaging machines are installed on, or around, a folder-gluer depending on what packaging machine you purchase. 

Let’s take a look at the 4 families of packaging equipment and where they’re installed:

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 flow of the packaging equipment.

Prefio Webp

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

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

Very often, several pre-packer units are installed after the folder-gluer. Those pre-packers include box turners, batch inverters, and counting and separating devices

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 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 packaging equipment. 

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.

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 packaging equipment.

everio

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

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.

🔍 Related: Folder-Gluer Packers Vs. Stackers: Which Packaging Solution is Right For Your Company?

Who Needs Packaging Equipment (& Why)?

Sales rep 21-50 WebP

Ergosa C and MFA combination at IMPACK's manufacturing plant. IMPACK's experts discussing a client's test.

“To improve your folder-gluer productivity, you need to invest in packaging equipment.”

“The only way you can reach higher speeds is by investing in packaging equipment.”

“You need packaging equipment to reduce your packing staff.”

Every packaging equipment manufacturer that you approach will repeat those statements in one form or another.

Every packaging equipment manufacturer will tell you that you must invest in packaging equipment to improve your folder-gluer’s productivity, reach higher packing speeds, or reduce your packing staff.

That’s just the reality of this industry. 

But — the truth is, investing in packaging equipment is not the right solution for every box manufacturer.

Yes, investing in packaging equipment could be a bad decision if you’ve not mastered your folding-gluing process.

“What does that mean?”

Put simply, if you want to get the greatest return on investment from your packaging equipment, then you should not invest in packaging equipment until your company has pushed your folder-gluer to its maximum possible potential. 

If you’re not sure how to push your gluer to its maximum potential, learn about the Top 5 Ways to Maximize Your Folder-Gluer’s Productivity With Zero Investment.

🔍 Related: Top 5 Ways to Improve Folder-Gluer Productivity with Zero Investment

You should know though that there will come a point where you’ve become good at tuning your folder-gluer and you’ve ramped up your speed through the implementation of those top 5 tips but your packing staff can no longer keep up. 

Thus, you will now deliberately have to slow down your folder-gluer and purposefully reduce your productivity.

After all, every process has its limitations and those limitations will eventually happen. 

It is inevitable. Your folder-gluer will hit its maximum potential and there is nothing you can do to make the gluer produce more (or at a faster rate) without investing in additional solutions.

Here's where folder-gluer packaging equipment comes into play.

But “packaging equipment” is an overarching term for a wide range of solutions that can be added on, and around, a folder-gluer. 

And we saw how each of those solutions varies in scope, degree, and levels of automation.

Hence, knowing that you need to invest in packaging equipment is not “the” ultimate answer to boost your folder-gluer’s productivity. 

It is a great first step, but there’s a whole world to folder-gluer packaging equipment.

If you’ve implemented those top 5 zero-investment tips and feel ready to take the next step, read the 7 Most Effective Ways to Maximize Your Folder-Gluer's Productivity (With Investing) that our team of engineers and packaging specialists put together from their observations of over 1000 companies around the world.

🔍 Related: Top 7 Ways to Improve Folder-Gluer Productivity With Investing

So, Should You Invest in Packaging Equipment?

Should you invest

It all comes down to your needs, goals, and budget.

🖐️ If you’re one of those people that skip straight to the end, here’s the quick answer:

The real tipping point between deciding whether you should invest in packaging equipment or not is the setup time.

If your folder-gluer could run faster and your packing staff can follow, then this is where tuning your gluer would be a better first option than adding packaging equipment to your folder-gluer.

To learn how to tune your folder-gluer: Follow the Top 5 Ways to Maximize Your Folder-Gluer’s Productivity With Zero Investment.

If you can no longer increase the capacity of your folder-gluer because you have pushed your gluer to its maximum potential, then ask yourself: Where exactly is the bottleneck taking place?

👉 1. If your bottleneck is at the gluing and you have 1 packing person:

If your bottleneck is at the gluing and you have 1 packing person, then adding another packing person won’t help you as your folder-gluer has reached its maximum possible speed. 

Neither will a Manual Packing help/aid like the popular Collecting Tables on the market.

For example: Let's say you are producing 50,000 boxes per hour with 1 packing person and you've reached the maximum speed of your gluer. This means that you cannot run faster with the gluer no matter what you do. Adding another packing person does not affect your speed because the gluer has already reached its maximum speed.

Therefore, you probably do not "need" a packer for small production volumes. That said, a packer could help for ergonomic reasons and you have to evaluate what ergonomics is worth for your company.

On the other hand, if you have large production volumes (run sizes) of 150,000 boxes or more, a Fully Automatic packer, such as IMPACK's Virtuo + ACF, could be a lucrative solution as it could remove that 1 packing person and place them into higher-value activities (if the production volumes are fitting).

👉 2. If your bottleneck is at the gluing and you have 2 packing persons:

If your bottleneck is at the gluing, and you have 2 people packing, then adding more packing personnel won’t help you as your folder-gluer has reached its maximum possible speed. 

For example: If your gluer is running at a speed of 50,000 boxes per hour with 2 people working hard to pack at that speed, and you already know that your folder-gluer has hit its maximum speed, then you might want to consider adding a packer.

A packer would help you reduce 1 or 2 packing person(s) and continue producing at the same speed. 

This means that you either need no packing persons remaining or that the remaining person is packing twice as fast as before.

👉 3. If your bottleneck is at the packing:

If your bottleneck is at the packing, then whatever you do with a packer it would be worth the investment.

If your folder-gluer is running at a speed X with 1 packing person, and you know that your gluer can run faster, then the next step would be to add a second packing person to push your gluer to a higher speed.

One step further, you can reduce 1 of the 2 packing persons with the help of a Semi-Automatic or an Automatic packer, such as IMPACK’s Semi-Automatic Ergosa packer or Automatic Virtuo packer.

Alternatively, you can move both packing persons to higher value-added activities with a Fully-Automatic packer, such as IMPACK’s Virtuo + ACF.

For simplicity, let’s take the same example: Your gluer is running at a speed of 50,000 boxes per hour with 2 people working hard to pack at that speed. This time though, you know that your folder-gluer can run at a speed of 80,000 boxes per hour. 

In this specific situation, you would want to find a packer that helps you achieve your folder-gluer’s maximum possible speed of 80,000 boxes per hour either fully automatically or with 1 packing person only.

On the other hand, if you’re always in the small-volume ranges of 20,000-40,000 boxes per setup, then you typically won’t reach your folder-gluer’s maximum speed and this is where IMPACK’s “Packing Help Stations,” or the other Collecting Tables on the market, would be a better choice than a packer. 

And this would be for ergonomic reasons or organizational efforts.

🔍 Related: Manual Vs. Semi-Auto Vs. Auto Vs. Fully-Auto Folder-Gluer Packers: Which Is Right For Your Company?

Who Should You Buy Your Packaging Equipment From?

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If you’ve decided that investing in packaging equipment is the right choice for your company, your next step would be choosing a packaging equipment manufacturer. Here are your options:

Your Current Partner

If you already have a partner from which you purchase your packaging equipment, then they would be your best bet as you already have a relationship with them and they are the “person of trust.”

Folder-Gluer Manufacturers

Your second option would be a folder-gluer manufacturer/supplier.

Most folder-gluer manufacturers also offer some types of packaging equipment. Typically, they either have the most basic Collecting Tables or Automatic packers. It is rare to find folder-gluer manufacturers that offer Semi-Automatic packers.

If their proposed solutions fit your budget and production requirements, then they might be a good fit for you. Furthermore, if you're buying a folder-gluer, they might even throw in a special discount on the packaging equipment!

Just remember that even if they offer you a packer at a discount, if it doesn't fit your production needs, then it’s not worth the investment. 

Packaging Equipment Manufacturers

Your third option would be a packaging equipment manufacturer/supplier. manufacturers have experts with deep technical knowledge of the equipment they make and sell. 

Most of the time, these experts are sales reps that have personally tested, installed, and administered the operator training on dozens of machines around the world. In some cases, those sales reps have, themselves, wired and started those machines.

Some examples of manufacturers exclusively selling packaging equipment for folder-gluers include: Graphic West Packaging and WSI Global.

We, at IMPACK, are a packaging equipment manufacturer that designs, builds, delivers, and installs Manual, Semi-Automatic, Automatic, and Fully-Automatic packaging equipment and peripheral devices. 

We have currently manufactured and installed over 400 units across 4 continents and with projects in over 55 countries. Box manufacturers leverage our 20 years of experience to help them choose the best machine for their production.

Have You Made a Decision?

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

  1. Compare IMPACK’s 3 main packaging equipment and discover which is best for your company.
  2. Find out How Much a Folder-Gluer Packer Costs and what costs you can avoid.
  3. Contact an IMPACK expert for a FREE productivity analysis to learn what’s hindering your company from producing more output, faster.

👉 If you feel that your company is not yet in the position to invest in packaging equipment, here are your next steps:

  1. Find out how you can Maximize Your Folder-Gluer’s Productivity.
  2. Learn the Top 5 Ways to Improve Your Folder-Gluer's Productivity With $0 Investment.