|There are a number of trends that are driving the design of modern case-packing equipment:
1. Retail-ready case packing. Originally driven by club stores, secondary packaging that can be deployed right on the retail floor with attractive graphics and tear-away sections or panels has probably been one of the biggest developments in secondary packaging in recent years. The latest challenge is to be able to produce smaller-count cases at higher speeds to maintain processing speeds. Also, using shelf packages with visible product (such as windows or exposed carton corners) requires automated machinery that minimizes surge pressure during packaging. The kind of vacuum used to pick a case up really matters now. Machines cannot mark, mar, or damage the cases in any way, because they’re being used as displays now.
2. Lightweighting. Partly for sustainability reasons but also for cost savings, packagers are seeking to use thinner bags, thinner corrugated board, and thinner cartons. Machines have been redesigned accordingly, handling product a lot more gingerly than they used to, but still at high speeds. End-of-line packaging machines used to be typically fixed-automation machines. But now, to handle the proliferation of container shapes, sizes, and lighter weights, what’s required is more low-pressure conveyance, more customization, servos, and more robotics. Robotics can be more efficient at handling lighter weight packaging because of the amount of pressure and stress put on containers can be more tightly controlled. Pick-and- place robots might be less likely to cause package damage versus more conventional fixed- automation and drop-pack systems.