Making case packing efficient, economical and sustainable in the supply chain

Esko Australia Pty Ltd
Friday, 20 December, 2019

The rising demand and popularity of shelf-ready packaging in the last few years calls for making your retail product packaging more impactful. As a business, you would expect your product packaging to not just promote sales, but also optimise costs and contribute to a sustainable environment. While the benefits of shelf-ready packaging (SRP) are well known, here we discuss how the automation techniques used by Mespic S.r.l. are making the case packing process increasingly efficient, ecological and affordable for supply chains.

Automated case packing methods adopted by Mespic further reduce the size of shelf-ready cases compared to crashlock cases. This allows for more to be fitted onto one pallet; thereby requiring fewer delivery vehicles on the road and smaller warehousing space. Compared to other case packing techniques, cases packed on Mespic machines use less material, and empty packages are easy to flatten and recycle.

In a recent solution provided to a well-known food manufacturer, Mespic automation reduced carton sizes, providing a benefit for pallet utilisation. Due to the final shelf ready tray (SRT) size achieved, the customer had an increase of 15% more products on each pallet.

For another customer, Mespic achieved an increase of more than 30% by going from their existing crashlock to the new flat pouch packing with tear top SRT. The number of SRTs on a pallet increased to 340 from the previous 250 crashlocked cases per pallet.

Automated case packing options

Depending on the type and shape of the primary packaging (eg, pouches, sachets, cups and tubs), Mespic will derive a preferred way to erect from a flat blank, pack and seal case for shipment. Case packing can be performed by various loading techniques, such as top-loading, side loading, bottom loading and wrap-around case packing. Each method of packing depends on the application pertaining to the product, speed, optimisation of units per case and protection of the product.

Top load case packing

The most common form of case packing comprises of placing the product into a pre-erected case from the top. This can be easily done from a manual operation with a simple shift to automated process for rigid or stable products (eg, bottles or cartons) if required.

Mespic top load case packers use one-piece flat blanks. Flat blanks are normally cheaper if compared to pre-glued or two-piece solutions as they are easier and cheaper to transport and stock. One-piece solutions allow a complete sealing of the carton on all sides while providing stronger resistance at vertical compression and allow various style of display solutions.

Typical products case-packed via top load include glass bottles, cartons, flexible pouches, flowpacks, bags and sachets.

Side load case packing

The side load method is a fast case packing technique. These systems load products into an open case on its side using a fixed format block. The machine can erect, pack and seal a SRP case in a compact footprint. The product infeed and conditioning is usually the heaviest customisation in a side load case packing machine. This is because the product is collated in the required format and then loaded horizontally into the open case lying on its side. For large manufacturers who have high-scale, high-volume production, side-load packing automation is often the ideal solution.

Typical products case-packed with side-load include cartons, pouches, sleeved trays and other rigid containers.

Wrap-around case packing

An alternate form of case packing that wraps the pre-cut flat sheets of corrugated blanks around rigid products, offers more precise product adjustment and better merchandise security.

The biggest advantage of wrap-around case packing is its case-saving potential as compared to regular slotted cases (RSCs), with the major and minor flaps sealed with hot glue on the sides instead of the top.

Typical products case-packed with wrap-around include containers made of glass, PET, PVC, polypropylene, cans, etc. mainly for the food & beverage, personal hygiene and cleaning industries.

Providing the solution

Understanding that a customer wants: efficiency for maximised production output; reliability for maximised uptime of equipment; flexibility to cater for future production needs; and security in a safe investment; Esko Australia along with Mespic offer personalised turn key solutions. They offer not just stand alone machines, but also solutions for their customers by analysing the packaging and the layout that best suits their customer's requirements.

They offer a compact and efficient system that allows it to form, pack and seal boxes starting from a flat blank. On the all-in-one (AIO) system it is possible to handle open trays, display boxes with tear-off pre-cuts and boxes with sealed lid. They care about new market developments and are proud to have started important partnerships with companies and associations that study new materials and technologies in order to offer efficient solutions in terms of production and energy savings. In collaboration with main producers of delta spider robots, they can provide a wide range of solutions by using these types of systems for the product handling, merging and sorting. Utilising the extensive experience in automated case packing, they design and manufacture complete end-of-line systems; from conveyor systems to wrapping machines, from case packers to palletisers.

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