Packaging is an important activity in the food industry. As a result, almost every food product is packaged one or more times before reaching the last customer. Packages are used in most food production and distribution systems to transport items from fields to processing plants, between processing plants, and from processing plants to retail outlets and finally to customers. Boxes, pouches, bags, cups, trays, cans, tubes, and bottles are among the rigid and flexible package types. A food packet can contain processed food, fresh food, or other food packages.
Packages fulfil one or more of four fundamental functions: containment, protection, communication, and utility. For example, a pick and place packaging machine has revolutionised the industry and ensures its integrity throughout the industrial and commercial processes: transportation, distribution, storage etc.
But you know what is a Pick and Place Robot?
Well. Pick and place robots allow businesses to deploy automated systems to lift goods from one spot and put them in another. Simple operations like lifting or moving goods do not require much thought.
As a result, using human workers for these jobs may be inefficient because the workforce may be used for other tasks requiring more extraordinary mental talents.
Pick and place robots handle these repetitious chores. These robots are frequently outfitted with sensors and vision systems to lift goods from a moving conveyor belt.
It can intimidate you if you’re new to the world of flexible packaging automation. Don’t worry; we’re here to assist you.
This article will provide a high-level overview of various machine kinds, equipment specs, and definitions of regularly used industry terms.
Let’s start with the fundamentals.
An Overview of Flexible Packaging
The Flexible Packaging Association defines flexible packaging as “any package or element of a package whose shape can be easily changed.” Pouches and bags are two examples. Rigid packaging, including bottles, cans, and jars, is the polar opposite.
Many leading organisations are expanding their flexible packaging offerings for a variety of reasons, including:
- Packages are reasonably priced.
- More graphic and message surface area
- If dropped, there is less chance of breakage and damage.
- Low storage and transportation expenses
- Low carbon footprint
- Consumer desire for portable, lightweight, and flexible packaging has increased.
Materials for flexible packaging
Flexible packaging machinery uses a layered (typically plastic) material called film to create filled bags, pouches, sticks, and other types of flexible packaging. This substance typically has a sealant layer that, when heated, bonds together to form a sealed package.
To form bag shapes, some flexible packaging machines use roll stock, a long roll of film wound around a hollow core (seen at right).
Other packaging machines make use of pre-formed bags, often known as prepared pouches.
Automatic flexible packaging machine types
FORM FILL SEAL
The form fill seal machine is the most common automatic flexible packaging machine. This machine performs precisely what its name implies: it forms bags, fills them with a product, and seals them shut.
Some machines carry out these procedures vertically (vertical form fill seal or VFFS), whereas others carry them out horizontally (horizontal form fill seal or HFFS). VFFS machines have the advantage of taking up less floor space and being less expensive, making them a popular alternative in many industries where square footage and money are limited.
Multilane stick pack machines are widely used in sectors that package small packets of powdered or liquid products, such as sauces and drink mixes. These machines function similarly to form complete seal machines. However, they produce many packages at the same time.
FILL AND SEAL
Pre-made pouch fill and seal machines are a rapidly expanding form of flexible packaging machines. This machine fills and seals prefabricated bags with goods. Rotary machines offer better ergonomics for operators.
Packaging machines do not measure or dispense items. A unique piece of equipment can instead perform these procedures.
A flexible packaging machine is frequently used with a filler or doser to gauge the weight or volume of the product before dropping it into each bag. Different filling equipment will be recommended depending on the qualities of your product:
- Powder goods are frequently filled with an auger filler. This machine uses an extended screw-like mechanism to measure specific amounts of product into bags.
- For solid materials, a multi-head scale is frequently employed. This machine weighs things appropriately before depositing them into bags using a series of buckets.
- A liquid pump, usually with a piston mechanism, will measure specified product volumes into bags for liquids.
Fillers are often positioned above or to the side of the packaging machine.
Flexible packaging equipment can accommodate many different bag types. The following are some examples of popular bag styles:
- PILLOW BAGS are the most common and cost-effective packaging format, with two flat panels on the top and bottom and a vertical seal down the back. This bag style is famous for bargain brands, chips, single-serving snacks, and coffee in fractional packs.
- DOYPACKS are pouches that stand upright and have an oval-shaped base. This bag is becoming increasingly popular for luxury products in various industries, including snacks, coffee, and powder supplements.
- The rectangular bottom of QUAD SEAL BAGS allows them to stand independently. This bag has two side gussets and two panels connected by four vertical seals, giving it a more structured and modular appearance. This bag style is popular with high-end coffee manufacturers.
- FLAT BOTTOM BAGS are like quad seal bags because they feature two gussets but only one vertical seal. This bag is commonly used for coffee and pet food.
- GUSSETED BAGS are like pillow bags, except they contain side gussets that provide more significant internal space.
- THREE SIDE SEAL BAGS are three-sided flat pouches.
- SACHETS are small, flat, four-sided sealed packets commonly used for single-serving condiments and seasonings.
- STICK PACKS are small pillow bags used for single-serving powders and liquids.
Specifications for flexible packaging machines
Packaging equipment is frequently rated by speed or the number of finished bags a machine can complete in time. This is commonly expressed in bags per minute (bpm), which is how many finished bags the device can create per minute.
A machine is frequently specified for a maximum number of bags per minute. Still, production speeds vary depending on various factors, such as operator skill, product qualities, bag types, and plant environment.
PARAMETERS OF THE BAG
Packaging equipment will also contain bag size criteria, typically specified in millimetres by width, length, and depth (mm). This means that the finished bag must fit inside particular dimensions.
Some packing machines can handle enormous bags, while others operate well with much smaller goods. Your packing machine manufacturer will recommend a device based on your bag parameters.
Bag weight specifications can also be set on packaging machines, showing that the equipment can only support bags up to weight. Load-bearing support shelves can be installed if a backpack is enormous and heavy.
TYPES OF BAGS
Another factor to consider is the variety of bag kinds that a packing machine can generate. Specific versions can only produce simple flat bags, while others can make more sophisticated ones, such as stand-up pouches.
REQUIREMENTS FOR ELECTRICITY AND AIR CONDITIONING
Packaging machines require appropriate power and air supply to function. Most spec sheets will include specifications for these components.
There are many benefits to investing in automatic packaging machines. Large and small industries are looking for ways to maximise time and labour while lowering production costs. Selecting suitable automated packing systems will help you enhance your manufacturing process and increase profitability.
As a result, pick and place robots are no longer an option but a must requirement in this setting. This is especially true in food packaging, where additional issues like human contamination and product purity are at stake.
Contact us today to improve your operations and increase your profitability.