Guide for Cartoning Machine and Cartoning Solution
Cartoning machine or cartoner takes a considerable portion of the packaging machines provided and sought in the market. Our purpose of elaborating this guide is that customers can refer to it before purchasing a cartoning machine so that during their procurement they can have a comprehensive and to-depth review of the options they have, thus selecting the correct one.
We’ve mentioned the importance of procuring qualified and reliable packaging machinery in our Handbook for Overwrapping Machine and the negative impacts of an unqualified one purchased, which are principal as follow:
- constant labor and technical cost of maintenance
- replacement and the second purchase of machine if it by all means not reliable,
- the lagged production which may have a fatal impact on your business…
In this guide, we’d not only cover details about the machine itself but as well things about the package itself: the variety of cartons, ways of closing and seal, etc., so that the reader can evaluate, based on their demands and specifications of the product, the adequate cartoning machine for their project.
- I.Automatic Cartoning – The Most Commonly Seen Packaging Solution
- II. Basic Varieties of Carton Package
- II.I. Tuck End Carton
- II.II. Snap-Lock Bottom and Auto-Bottom
- II.III. Seal-End Carton
- III. Packaging Automation and Production Cost
- IV. Classification of Cartoning Machine
- IV.I Horizontal Cartoner or End-Load Cartoner
- IV.II. Vertical (Load) Cartoner
- IV.III Continuous Motion Cartoner.
- V. Structure and Work Flow of a Cartoning Machine
- V.I Infeeding System
- V.II. Carton Magazine Erector
- V.III. Inserter
- V.IV. Dust Flap Closer and Tuck Flap Closer
- V.V. Optional Sections
- VI. Criterion of Selecting a Qualified Cartoning Machine
- VII. ÉLITER´s Cartoning Solutions
I. The Most Commonly Seen Packaging Solution
Taking a walk in the supermarket, pharmacy, a cosmetics store, and so forth, I’d find, with just a glimpse of products on the shelf, that a majority of them come loaded in a carton. And each category of them stands for a packaging line in which there must be a cartoning machine. Literally, automatic cartoning is the packaging solution that serves to insert or load a product into its carton package and get in closed or sealed. In the following chapter, we start by talking about types of carton and then extend our discussion into categories and characteristics of cartoners.
II. Basic Varieties of Carton Package
Cartons come in a considerable variety of shapes and forms which subsequently will determine the level of personalization of carton solutions. In this chapter, we talk about cartons to leave a essential foundation for our further topic of cartoning solutions. We will focus on End-Load cartons only and not extend to a thorough discussion of carton package.
In the very beginning, we shall first introduce two concepts:
PANELS: Cartons are all in a cubic and cuboid form. When it is closed it appears as complete cubic consists of 6 planes which are called the Panels. Panels are categorized into:
1. Front Panel
2. Rear Panel
3. Leaf Side Panel
4. Right Side Panel
5. Top Closure Panel
6. Bottom Closure Panel
FLAPS: Basically Flaps are those parts that help to maintain the form of carton when it is closed and they are fixed in the inner part of it when carton is closed. Flats can be divided into three categories:
1. Tuck Flaps – those are adjacent to the panel on the end side and are inserted into the carton to close it.
2. Dust Flaps – the two relatively small flaps on the end side. There should be four dust flaps on a carton
3. The Glue Flap – a carton magazine is formed into a carton with the Glue Flap connecting two ends of it.
For your better understanding we present you as follows a footprint of Tuck end Carton which we will talk in the next part.
II.I Tuck End Carton
A tuck end consists of a Closure Panel and a Tuck Flap, accompanied by Dust Flaps on the two sides. This is the most popular form of carton style that you must know. The tuck end carton can be classified into two types: Straight Tuck End Carton and Reverse Tuck End Carton.
Straight Tuck End or STE Carton: A carton with a top and bottom that both tuck into the same side of itself.
Reverse Tuck End or RTE Carton: Literally, this is a carton with top and bottom that both tuck into the different side of itself.
A comparative image is as follows so that you can have a vivid view of these two types of tuck end carton.
II.II Snap-Lock Bottom and Auto-Bottom
A Snap-Lock Bottom is also known as a 1-2-3 bottom for its ways of being closed. Three flaps are folded for closure and form a rather more stable structure.
An Auto-Bottom is a self-supporting structure that when the carton is erected, the flaps and panels pop on the bottom pop into place making itself a closure structure simple, quick and stable.
II.III Seal-End Carton
Seal-End is usually used for loading heavy and large-size products. We must have seen such a structure on items such as cereal and muesli you have for breakfast.
The two closure panels are sealed by glue and usually, a batch code is printed on the outer panel. In case the two end side of the carton are all seal-end, the Top Seal-End will also be left with a Weakness Line for purpose of tear.
Here as the end of this chapter, we’d also like to mention that end load cartons may possibly come in a form that the previously mentioned structures are combined. As following are some examples of this hybrid: Tuck Top AutoBottom, Tuck Top Seal-End Bottom, Double Seal-End, etc…
III. Packaging Automation and Production Cost
In this part, we’d try to give an explanation of why packaging automation is so important and then give a classification of cartoning machines for packaging production.
Supposing a producer relies all on labor for production, the more it wants to produce, the more labor it needs. The increase of labor and people call for workshop with more space which in turn increases the land cost. We may suppose there is a linear relationship between the quantity of production and unit cost. The situation would be the function graph below on the left.
However, suppose a unit of cartoner and any other packaging machine (this does not matter since here the situation is just a hypothesis) is installed in the workshop, the unit cost of packaging production will starts as the machine price with the first unit produced and will go rapidly downhill as the quantity increases. Even if the producer wants to boost further its production by purchasing and installing more machines, the initial cost will be higher yet the level to which more space is needed will not be as much as more labor thus incur less cost.
IV. Classification of Cartoning Machine
Till now we have built enough foundation to extend the topic into cartoner itself. Cartoning machines can be classified into various categories based on their form of working such as how the production is loaded, what the structure design is, and what its motion is.
IV.I. Horizontal Cartoner or End-Load Cartoner
An end-load cartoning machine or horizontal cartoner, is the most commonly seen cartoning machine in the market. It is of a typical work process of erecting the magazine with the end side in a horizontal position. An insertor would fill the carton through the end open. The carton will finally be closed from the open flaps by tuck method or adhesive method sealed by glue. Just as you may imagine, horizontal cartoners can be set up as manual, semi-automatic, or fully automatic form. You may refer to the video on the top about our DZH-120 Series End-Load Cartoner for a better understanding.
IV.II. Vertical (Load) Cartoner
A vertical-Load cartoner, literally as it means, erects the carton longitudinally with the end side on the top from which the product is loaded. We are citing a picture of IWK Verpackungstechnik GmbH’s vertical cartoner for your reference.
IV.III. Continuous Motion Cartoner
Just as it is named, you can figure out and define a cartoner based on its manner of motion. A Continuous Motion Tartoner can be either a Horizontal (Continuous Motion) Cartoner or Vertical (Continuous Motion) cartoner. Here in the section, we will only talk about the former one.
Apart from the pattern of motion, we can also recognize a continuous motion cartoner by its multiple insertors whose motion is steered by the guide rail.
Continuous Motion Cartoners surpass intermittent motion ones in terms of output. The multiple insertors fill the product into carton incessantly while the conveyors take the carton and product through the machine’s work process. In terms of cost, a continuous motion carotner will be several times more expensive than the intermittent one, for which reason, it is not commonly accepted while basically are procured by some pharmaceutical companies with solid financial status and are exigent about equipment’s performance.
V. Structure and Work Flow of a Cartoning Machine
In this chapter, we will provide a step-by-step explanation of how a cartoner, especially an intermittent one, gets your product packed into carton. Some introduction about the principle section, structure, and components of cartoning machine will be entailed so that in the future procurement you can refer to them for evaluating your available options.
V.I. Infeeding System
Depending on the loading pattern which would either be manually loading or automatic loading, an infeeding system shall be adapted to fulfill the introduction of the product. Since Infeeding systems vary tremendously based on the size, form, and shape of the product to be applied. This is a specially personalized section of the cartoning machine and would be driven by servo motor, cylinders, sensors, and counting devices, etc., and the section through which the products are introduced to the machine firstly into the infeeding conveyor belt.
V.II. Carton Magazine Erector
The carton erector is usually a rotatory section that catches magazines from carton container and erects them into cartoner’s Output Conveyor belt. The erector is usually pneumatically and mechanically driven to realize the suck of carton magazine and erection of it. Erectors vary in form and design. Each manufacture may have it is own combo of erectors installed on its cartoners.
In the meanwhile the product is taken by infeeding conveyor to the final position, an inserter would be there to fulfill it into the erected carton which has been loaded on the Output Conveyor. The following picture shows an example of insertion on an intermittent motion cartoner. In the case of a continuous motion cartoner, you may refer to the picture shown in Chapter IV.III., that a set of inserters are driven by the guide rail to realize the insertion.
V.IV. Dust Flap Closer and Tuck Flap Closer
When passing through to Output Conveyor the carton with the product loaded will firstly encounter the dust flap closer. The flaps are pushed inside by the closer and are then squeezed by a guide to stay in its position.
The cartons are to be closed finally by two pairs of Tuck Closers. When the carton arrives here the Top and Bottom Panel will have been secured by guides on the two sides. The first pair of Tuck Closer insert, preliminary and slightly, the tuck flaps into the carton and are then be totally inserted by the second pair of tuck closer. After all these process the cartoner has complished all its work and is just about to export the loaded carton.
V.V. Optional Sections
The sections presented in the previous chapters are the most standard ones in a general application cartoner, or say, for the cartoning of a Tuck-End Carton (Click to review the concept).
Glue Adhesive Application
Yet, for example, shall the product is to be loaded in a seal-end carton, or say, a Hot-Melt Adhesive Application ocassion, we’d need an extra device called Glue Melter. Now that there is no flap to be closed, the Tuck Closer is to be replaced by a Glue Jet Gun which is connected to the Glue Melter. The carton goes through this section with glue jetted on one of its closer panels, a panel closer then will push another to fold them and seal it.
Brochure/Leaflet Folding and Filling
In the case of the cartoning of blisters and pharmaceuticals, brochures are frequently required as well to be inserted into the carton. Leaflets are folded are delivered to an auxiliary conveyor that runs simultaneously with the infeeding conveyor and will be inserted together with the product into the carton afterward.
VI. Criterion of Selecting a Qualified Cartoning Machine
We suggest that after all these explanations you must have acquired a basic but general view and knowledge about the cartoner and cartoning solution.
After all these explications you must have had a rudimentary but also comprehensive overview of an overwrapping machine. We’d like to take some steps further so that, together with all the information provided and learned we can proceed to define what are those characteristics a qualified overwrapping machine must have.
i. Flexibility of Format Changing
We attach emphasis to this factor and put it as the primary one to consider for reason that a cartoning machine is relative of higher cost in comparison with other machines for secondary packaging. A cartoning machine should be designed with an adjustable structure to cover various formats and can be configured, connected and installed in any packaging line where the cartoning solution is needed.
ii. Labor Security
Cartoning machines are built with complex structures for which, in case of improper manipulation, the operators are exposed to a higher chance of severe accidence. An automatic emergent shut-down function, as well as a manual shut-down button, must be considered in its design.
Nobody would prefer equipment that takes tremendous space of the workshop or factory. Cartoning machines’ design is supposed to be as lean as possible.
iv. Degree of Automation and Intelligence
To which level of automation is required should be informed to the manufacturer properly so that a correspondent solution can be provided. A troubleshooting system must also be incorporated within the machine for the purpose that once an error occurs, the machine can stop immediately to avoid further problems.
The efficiency of a machine determines how many products are rendered daily. A project should be specifically reviewed by the machine manufacturer to check how much output the machine can reach regarding the size of the product to be packed.
VII. ÉLITER´s Cartoning Solutions
At ÉLITER, we know very well our customer’s expectations and always give it our best effort to offer efficient, economic, and personalized cartoning solution no matter what form of carton it is, how the infeeding system is supposed to be, how complex that situation is in which the cartoner will be installed… …