Packaging has been around for thousands of years, gradually evolving from storing goods in clay pots and cloth to the range of packaging you see everywhere today, namely aluminum, cardboard, glass, paper, and plastic. Other than providing a vessel to carry products in, there are several reasons why packaging is required, these include:
- Protection from the surrounding environment; dampness, dry air, gases, fumes, heat, cold, and moisture
- A barrier to biological contamination from bacteria, insects and rodents, mold, yeasts, and viruses
- Greater durability and protection from shocks including effective internal shock protection resulting from impacts, friction, and vibrations
- Safety reasons; certain products are labeled hazardous and require specific packaging, for example, products containing flammable or corrosive materials.
- Containment; the practice of holding many units or cases together for shipping, often done by tying plastic or steel straps around them and then wrapping the load with plastic film or corrugated cardboard
- Product information that the consumers must know can be displayed, typically this details the ingredients, net weight, and the producer’s contact details
- Convenience and functionality; most packaging is created to help consumers use the product, such as spray bottles for household cleaning chemicals
- Branding and promotion; packaging should feature an attractive design showing the company’s name, logo, and colorful designs
Since packaging is essential in many industries, setting up a packaging business is always going to be a safe bet, however, if you are thinking about getting into the packaging trade you will first need to do a few things. Firstly, you will need to write a thorough and well-thought-out business plan detailing expected income, running costs, and most importantly the amount of capital to buy the necessary equipment.
Before packaging any goods, you will have to design your plant and list all the required equipment. Selecting equipment carefully is essential as mistakes can be costly, the guide below outlines the equipment commonly used by packaging businesses.
Sealing Cartons and Boxes
Packaging companies handle and package vast quantities of goods each week and are often working to a deadline, therefore automation in the packaging process is vital. One example of packaging is cardboard boxes and cases which can be tricky when sealing them by hand, however, case sealers manufacturers have created an automated solution to quickly seal them. Furthermore, the machinery and software utilized by case sealers are more efficient and consistent than doing it by hand.
Otherwise, known as automatic box sealers, most case sealing equipment can be set to tape many variations of boxes and cases, additionally, the user-friendly software and machinery provide other essential features such as:
- A mechanism to control and close the major flaps on a box
- Safety features including guard doors and emergency switches
- Well-designed and easy to use touch screen controls
- Easily accessible parts for maintenance and material replenishment, for example, a tilting tape head allowing for a hassle-free replacement of the tape roll
- Spring-loaded side belts to grip the sides of the box and move them through the production line
In the construction of professionally sealed cardboard boxes, there is one step that must be completed before sealing the top of the box, as discussed above. This essential first step involves opening the flat-packed boxes, ensuring they are square, and then sealing the bottom flaps with tape or glue.
The machinery required to carry out this process automatically is referred to as a case erector in the industry. Automatic case erectors can assemble boxes faster and more consistently than by hand due to several key features such as a robotic arm used to grip and open the flat-packed box, and case squaring sensors to check cases are perfectly square before sealing them. Furthermore, commercial-grade box assembling machines are made of highly durable materials and easy to clean parts, generally, they are expected to last over twenty years of operation.
Packaging Materials and Supplies
The type of machinery you buy will depend on the materials you and your clients decide to use, and nowadays, there is a big push towards using biodegradable or 100% recyclable materials in packaging. That being said, owners of packaging businesses should have a good understanding of all the materials and supplies traditionally used in the packaging industry, including:
- Wood; used to build crates and pallets for shipping, and smaller boxes to package items like cheese, cigars, gifts, and tea
- Paper; a relatively durable, recyclable, and low-cost material used in boxes, cartons, corrugated cases, labels, and tubes
- Glass; a strong and recyclable option popularly used for cosmetics, drinks, condiments, and food.
- Metal; aluminum and tin are the go-to material for packaging drinks, food, and aerosol sprays.
- Cardboard; both a durable and inexpensive option used to carry packages of all sizes
- Plastic; boxes, bubble wrap, packing foam, shrink wrap, and shipping peanuts
- Tape; check the type of packing tape your automated system require
- Gift packaging; greeting cards, bags, bows, and wrapping paper
- Shipping barcodes, labels, and stickers
Apart from the automated machines and materials, there are of course other pieces of equipment and tools just as necessary for operating a packaging plant. To be well-equipped, most packaging factories will also need computers, cutters, scissors, printers, and shipping scales.
Once packaging is assembled and the goods are packed, there is still the task of either printing labels to stick on cases or printing directly onto the box, both of which will require specialized machines and quality printers that use ink that won’t easily wear away.
Oftentimes, clients will want the boxes their products are packaged in to be clearly labeled for branding and legal reasons, which is why it’s a good idea for a packaging business to invest in a labeling machine to fully automate the process. There are many variations of labeling machines that are custom designed to label different materials and shapes.
Setting up a packaging business can be a lucrative endeavor, however, it involves a great deal of work and planning, this includes researching and purchasing the right machinery to automate packaging tasks so that the business can handle larger orders and scale-up.