New Tool: PMMI ProSource
Check out our packaging and processing solutions finder, PMMI ProSource.

How Products are Loaded and Sealed into Pre-Made Bags and Pouches

In this episode of Package This, you’ll learn about the technology used to fill candy and snacks into pre-made stand-up plastic pouches, put meat and cheese into flat plastic bags, and fill grains and pet food into large paper sacks.

Transcript

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 applicatorsThis 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 ProSource.org, a directory with 1,000 packaging and processing suppliers. There you can search by package type, material, or features. Thanks for watching!  

 

Transcript

Welcome to Package This — in today’s video we are highlighting pre-made bag loading and sealing equipment – machines widely used by consumer packaged goods companies for countless products. This technology is used to fill candy and snacks into pre-made standup plastic pouches, put meat and cheese into flat plastic bags, and fill grains and pet food into large paper sacks.

This type of equipment is also used to bag and pouch and seal common non-food items like hardware store parts and electronics into pre-made bags.

With these machines, note that “pre-made” is the operative word when describing the type of bags they run, to differentiate them from form/fill/seal bagging systems.

Bag and Pouch Sealing

Bag and pouch sealing equipment is perhaps one of the most common types of machines in this group. These machines are the choice for CPGs with a separate bag filling machine upstream in their packaging operation.

Common sealing technologies include continuous heat, ultrasonic heat and impulse heat sealing, as well as stitching, a non-heat method. Choosing a sealing technology will depend on factors including the bagging material and size of the bag, not to mention the product.

The Doboy CBS-D 750 from Syntegon, shown here running flat bags of tortillas, is a good example of a bag and pouch sealer that uses a continuous heat method called band sealing.

The machine’s tapered infeed extension makes it easy for operators to feed bags straight into the sealer. Its compression unit removes air from the package prior to sealing to help preserve freshness. As the bag passes through the machine, a heated band seals the plastic material, creating an airtight seal. Syntegon also supplies this unit with a DRD bag top trimmer that removes excess plastic before sealing for a clean appearance.

Bag Loading, Filling & Sealing

In some cases, such as when facility space is limited or the company wants to increase efficiency in their packaging operations, brands may need equipment that can load or fill their pre-made bags and seal them on a single machine. Such bag loading, filling and sealing equipment can be manual, semi-automatic or fully automatic, depending on the level of automation required.

One advantage of this type of equipment is its flexibility. For example, CPGs might use the same machine to run several different types of plastic pouches or even paper formats on the same machine, with quick changeovers between the different runs. These bag loaders, fillers, and sealers are also an option when doing shorter runs, or where high production speed is not the main consideration.

MAP Bagging Machines                                                                                             

Modified Atmosphere Packaging, or MAP, is used in the food industry to extend the shelf-life of perishable food products by modifying the air inside the packaging. MAP machines use a gas flush snorkel to inject nitrogen or other gases into the package, and then close the package around the snorkel to create a modified atmosphere. This technique slows down the growth of microorganisms and delays oxidation of the food. Brands can adjust their MAP systems depending on the food type, its respiration rate, and the targeted amount of time for the shelf-life extension.

Vacuum Packaging Machines

Vacuum Packaging removes air from packaging by tightly wrapping preformed bags around perishable food products.

An operator places the bag into a vacuum chamber, where air is flushed out, eliminating oxygen and air pockets for optimal preservation of the freshness of the food. Vacuum packaging equipment is widely used on meat, cheese, and poultry packaging lines to extend shelf life, maintain flavor, and prevent spoilage throughout the supply chain. It can also be used in packaging medical devices and supplies, electronics, or any other sensitive product that requires airtight packaging.

Bag Sewers

Our next two categories are frequently used in closing and sealing large, open mouth bags.

First, bag sewers are designed to seal preformed bags by sewing threads, as opposed to most heat sealing methods. Such equipment is commonly used in sewing the open mouths of typically large, heavy-duty bags, such as pet food bags and sacks of potatoes. As a filled, open mouth bag is conveyed through the system, it passes through a closing mechanism that shuts the open mouth shut and then sews cotton or plastic thread to seal it up.

Bag Closers

Lastly, there are also other types of bag closers used in open mouth bag systems for large, heavy bags that don’t involve heat sealing or sewing. Included here are bag closers such as crimping sealers, plastic inner liner sealers, and pinch bottom open mouth glue sealers.

Pinch bottom sealers use a pre-glued seal that is activated just before sealing. Moving through the machine, the open mouth of the bag is pinched together, forming a tight seal that can secure heavy-duty bags of products like bulk grains, fertilizer, powder ingredients and related products.

From machines that modify the air inside a package or remove it… to units that fill, seal, or close stand-up pouches…to sewers and closers of large, heavy bags, these pre-made bagging loading and sealing machines run the gamut.

Want more videos on packaging machinery and materials? Subscribe to our Package This Playlist at PackagingWorld’s YouTube channel. And for a deeper dive into the technology we discussed here, visit ProSource.org, a directory with 1,000 packaging and processing suppliers. There you can search by package type, material, or features. Thanks for watching!  


Discover Our Content Hub
Access Packaging World's free educational content library!
Read More
Discover Our Content Hub
Rethinking Packaging Robotics to Prioritize Flexibility
In this eBook, you’ll learn how to guard against the traps that CPGs sometimes inadvertently set for themselves when implementing robotics that lead to automation “brittleness.”
Read More
Rethinking Packaging Robotics to Prioritize Flexibility