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  • By admin
    June 29, 2016

    Checklist for buying end of line packaging machinery to help you meet your sustainability targets


    Corrugated cases in case erector hopperSustainability measures that reduce the use of resources and energy not only help the environment but cut costs and so maintain competitiveness.
    Much has been written on improving the sustainability of packaging materials but there seems to have been less emphasis on the process of putting the product into the packages. Automation is introduced to increase productivity but it can also contribute to the reduction of resources by eliminating inconsistency and damage (and so waste). In this article John Lambe, Technical Director Quin Systems, discusses some of the features of modern packaging machinery that can help you exceed your sustainability targets.

    1.“The energy efficiency of the packaging machine is first on most people’s list. Servo driven case erectors and case packers can be used to improve energy efficiency. Moreover, control technology can ensure that case erection is “synchronised” with the case packing. The faster a case is erected the more energy it consumes and to hold it in place consumes energy, therefore ideally a case should only be requested when the product is in place the machines should be working together at an optimum pace,” explains John.

    2.  “Air consumption is worth a separate mention,” adds John. “Energy efficiency depends on the application but, in general for high speed pick in place case packers and case erectors, reducing the use of pneumatics will lead to a significant decrease in energy consumption.”

    3. A compact footprint will use less factory space which will reduce cost of overheads. Quin Systems’ integrated case packer and case erector has a footprint of 2.6 m x 2.3 m.

    Photo of Technical Director Quin Systems the manufacturer of automatic case packing systems
    John Lambe, technical director at Quin Systems, discusses the sustainability of packaging machinery

    4. Reliability affects efficiency due to production down time but there is an impact on energy consumption if a machine is not running correctly. Robotic case packers from Quin Systems are not only reliable, with some early installations still in operation 10 years later, but the simple servo driven machine (with clever design to eliminate the use of gearboxes and other high speed components) reduces operating and maintenance costs. Mechanical wear can be reduced by using servo driven machines which generally run at cooler temperatures than alternatives, further increasing life span.

    5. Regular maintenance, ideally supported by remote monitoring capabilities, should ensure that the machine is running smoothly and that parts are changed at the appropriate time so keeping the operating costs to a minimum. However, again, there is a trade-off as site visits and replacement parts have a carbon footprint. Reliability is key.

    6. Depending upon the application, motion profile and accuracy can be as important as speed. A robotic pick and place case packer can deliver very smooth but fast accelerations and decelerations that increase productivity without damage.

    7. Check the case erector can handle “green packaging materials”. Corrugated packaging has made significant advances to reduce its environmental impact over the last few years. Lighter-weight packaging reduces the material used (and the cost). Materials are the major cost of packaging so reducing costs here has a significant impact. Cardboard is one of the easiest and most environmentally effective materials to recycle since the fibre in cardboard has already been processed but lighter-weight packaging made from recycled cardboard can be more difficult to handle and so erect. The fibre is degraded every time it is recycled potentially resulting in additional warp, dimension variability and greater fragility. There are various techniques machine builders have for handling these cases. Versapack™ from Quin Systems has a patented case handling and case clamping mechanism moreover the case erector can vary its speed at key stages of the case erection. This is useful as some cases are more delicate and so need to be pulled out slowly while others can be pulled out faster to make up for lost time. Moreover, where the case is faulty the machine will reject the case and stop so that the case can be cleared. Versapack™ does not continue to pack a faulty case. This self policing facility maintains productivity by minimising downtime.

    8.  “Don’t forget the costs of ancillary products, for example adhesives,” John adds. “Sealers should be fitted with timers so that they can be powered down.” There have been many advances in adhesive technology that reduces that amount of adhesive applied and the temperature required.

    9. If shipping miles are in your targets then you may wish to consider where your machine will be manufactured and whether support involves air travel.

    10. Finally, consider the longevity of the machine. The machine should be reliable and flexible to remain in efficient operation for years to come.

    “Ensure that your case packer can erect and pack a wide range of cases and products with a fast changeover and understand how easily your machine can be reprogrammed to pack future product and case types some of which may not be invented today,” John advises.