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A Look at Feeding and Inserting Equipment on the Packaging Line

In this episode of Package This, we explore the world of feeding and inserting equipment on packaging lines, crucial machines that ensure products, components, and containers are staged and ready for the packaging process.


In this episode of Package This, we explore the world of feeding and inserting equipment on packaging lines. These crucial machines ensure products, components, and containers are staged and ready for the packaging process. Discover pick-and-place systems, friction feeders, orienting and unscrambling machines, vibratory feeders, protective packaging feeders, and hanger applicators. Join us as we delve into the technologies and solutions that streamline packaging operations, enhance efficiency, and reduce labor costs for brands.

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Welcome to Package This — In this episode, we’ll look at feeding and inserting equipment. This group of machines covers a wide range of functions and might be best summed up as the equipment that gets products, components, and containers staged and ready to complete the package on the packaging line.

These systems often work in concert with other packaging equipment, especially during a filling operation. First, let’s delve into a major technology used in today’s packaging lines: pick-and-place systems.

Pick-and-Place Systems

Pick-and-place machines are advanced robots that automatically load products into packages.

Using delta or scara robots and machine vision technology, these systems enhance efficiency, accuracy, and consistency.

Let’s look at the Picker Line from Schubert. Here we can observe how it picks the filled sandwich cookies from an infeed conveyor and places them in tray packages. This line boosts a high output thanks to 24 pick & place robots positioned in pairs, two tray chains, and a single deposit belt. You’ll notice the Schubert vision system with four 3D scanners that aids in quality control of the cookies -ensuring flawless contours, height and lettering.

Users of this equipment can take advantage of variable formats with different pack sizes and the option to flexibly switch between parallel packaging in trays and individual packs.

Orienting & Unscrambling

Now, we turn to a specialized type of equipment used in bottle filling lines: orienting and unscrambling. Orienting and unscrambling machines take empty containers and sometimes products and correctly and consistently orient or organize them prior to filling.

Here we see how the Schubert tog.519 cobot picks unsorted products from a conveyor belt, out of trays or boxes and places them in the desired location or position. The cobot can place them into a feeder or into packaging, as shown here. It is made for fast pick & place applications with lightweight products at a cycle rate of up to 90 products per minute.

This cobot can be integrated virtually anywhere. It is very easy to operate and, thanks to AI-supported image processing, requires no programming effort. 

Other types of equipment in this family include bottle unscramblers that organize and place bottles into single file for inline filling and orientation systems that place pieces or products in order. Here we see a plastic bottle unscrambler that prepares containers for a liquid filling line. Empty plastic bottles to be filled are dumped into a hopper haphazardly and must be organized. This is where the unscrambler comes in, rotating and aligning the bottles systematically to ensure the mouth end faces upward. It also places them uniformly in line onto the conveyor for streamlined and efficient filling.

Placement and Feeder Systems

Placement and feeder systems are our next group. Feeder technology varies widely, from desiccant feeders that insert bags into bottles to eliminate moisture, to literature feeders that insert instruction manuals or promotional material into various packages.

One common type of machine in this group is the friction feeder, used to separate and feed individual sheets or items from a stack. They are used to precisely feed labels, leaflets, and other flat items into or onto a range of package styles at high speeds.

Here we see AT Information Products’ offline feeding solutions for flat packaging. The feeders can be equipped with coding equipment and/or a label applicator to add variable information onto flat packaging.

Offline feeding systems are ideal for coding & labeling a wide range of packaging types including cartons, sleeves, bags and pouches. You can see the company’s friction feeders code and label cartons, sleeves, and blister cards, while the vacuum feeders code and label bags and pouches.

Vibratory feeders are another type of machinery within the feeding and inserting group.

These machines are designed to orient and place small or lightweight products such as screws into a package. There are many types of feeders that get products where they need to go by shaking. Here, we see a circular vibratory feeder that gently shakes and rotates screws inside a bowl before moving them onto a narrow track, where they are counted and fed into a package.

Protective packaging feeders are specialty feeders designed to help prepare packages for shipment. These machines feed paper-based or plastic protective packaging or other materials into the headspace of a package before sealing for shipment.

Here, we see air-filled plastic cushioning being inflated before it is fed into a shipping container or box and cut just prior to sealing. Such air cushions prevent delicate products, such as electronics, from being damaged during shipment.

Another type of feeding and inserting equipment is referred to as hanger applicators. This type of machine is most often seen applying the hanger or hang tab on to consumer packages for retail display.

As the retail package to be displayed is conveyed through the system, pre-punched adhesive-backed hang tabs are separated from a sheet and applied consistently to the same part of the package so that it will hang neatly on retail store shelves.

As we’ve seen, feeding and inserting equipment is what gets products and containers in the right place on a packaging line so they can be fed, filled, and completed. Want more videos on packaging machinery and materials? Subscribe to our Package This playlist at Packaging World’s YouTube channel. And for a deeper dive into the technology we discussed here, visit, a directory with 1,000 packaging and processing suppliers. There you can search by package type, material, or features. Thanks for watching!  

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