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Reducing Labour and Improving Consumption Through Automation

Case Study: Distributor


Crawford Packaging was contacted by a prospective client who distributes food for pets and other animals. The Distributor was experiencing poor case assembly productivity and sealing practices. The Distributor’s case erecting was being completed by four employees. The employees would spend a collective 30 hours each day erecting the cases to be packed that day. Cases were then filled on the packaging line and be manually sealed. The Distributor was also having difficulty measuring and tracking tape consumption rates. The inability to control and measure tape usage was making it difficult for the distributor to establish a clear per pack cost.

Crawford’s Packaging Specialist met with the Distributor to analyze their existing packaging situation. The Packaging Specialist noted the Distributor could greatly benefit from process automation. Automating the carton forming and sealing process would help the Distributor to decrease labour costs and control consumption rates. Through the addition of a case erector and automated tape dispensers, the Distributor was able to increase productivity, while simultaneously reducing labour costs and tape consumption.

Dog Holding Pet Food Treat

Infographic Outlinting the Allocation of Labour Hours Before Automation


The Distributor required a solution that would help to reduce the labour required for their case erecting. Currently, the Distributor required four employees who would spend a full shift erecting the cases for that day's processing. The employees would take cases individually, form them, and seal the bottom with a manual tape gun. This process was consuming 30 labour hours a day with 4 employees working 7.5 hours forming boxes. Manually tapping cases also put employees at risk of developing repetitive motion strains or injury. Alongside the risk of injury, manually taping cases resulted in inefficient tape use. Employees often used as much tape as they saw was needed to form a proper seal. Without standardization, there was no way for the Distributor to effectively judge tape consumption for efficient ordering processes and establishing their per pack costs.     


Crawford’s Packaging Specialist performed a free packaging consultation with the Distributor to identify key areas for improvement. During the consultation, it was identified that the Distributor would benefit greatly from the addition of automation. Through automation, the distributor would be able to improve labour efficiency while standardizing tape use.

The first stage of the automation process was the addition of automated water-activated tape dispensers. Automatic tape dispensers reduce the risk of repetitive motion by eliminating the bending and flexing required to use a manual tape gun. These dispensers provide a consistent length of tape for each case sealed. After dispensing, the tape is then easily applied to the box where it forms a strong, penetrating bond. The Packaging Specialist provided the Distributor with a Better Pack 555e automatic water-activated tape dispenser to test in their facility.

The second stage of cartoning improvements was to improve the use of labour in the carton forming process. Automated packaging machines, like case erectors, reduce the required labour for a given task. An automated case erector would allow the Distributor to reduce labour and greatly improve tape consumption rates. The Distributor attended Crawford’s Packaging Performance Show to get hands-on experience with a variety of the case erectors. At the show, the Distributor witnessed how a bottom sealing case erector would help them to reduce labour and increase case forming productivity.  


The Better Pack 555e Automatic WAT Dispenser

The Better Pack 555e Automatic Water-Activated Tape Dispenser dispenses WAT at the push of a button, ready to apply. This dispensing process eliminates the repetitive bending and flexing the wrist experienced while using a manual tapping gun. This reduces the wear on employees and helps to standardize tape use when sealing cartons. The 555e comes pre-programmed with 14 pre-set lengths and is adjustable by ½ inch increments to maximize material use.

The SP304 Bottom Only Case Sealer and Erector

The Little David SP-304 is a unique top and bottom uniform case sealer. This unique packaging machine can be transitioned to a bottom sealing case erector by raising the upper tape head. This allows the SP-304 pass cartons through is heads without sealing the upper flaps. The SP-304 can erect and form cases at a rate of 15 boxes a minute, which would greatly increase the Distributors case throughput.


The Distributor has added two Better Pack 555e and a Little David SP 304 to their packaging solution. This increase in automation has allowed the Distributor to reduce their labour costs and improve tape consumption rates.

Blue Icon of Piggy Bank to Represent Reduced Labour Costs

Reduced Labour Costs and Increased Production

Now only two employees are necessary to complete the required case forming for the day. The SP 304 allows for two employees to complete what was once an all-day task, in two hours. The SP 304 has drastically increased productivity for the client, who is now forming and sealing cases at a rate of 21 cases per minute. A rate almost 3 times more productive than when they were forming and sealing by hand. This increase in automation has reduced the labour from 30 hours a day to 4 hours, a reduction of 87%.

Trash Can Icon to Represent Reducing Waste

Reduced Waste and Consumption

The addition of the automatic packaging equipment has improved the rate of tape consumption for the Distributor. The automatic application of tape ensures each box is formed and sealed using the same length of tape. This has helped the Distributor to standardize their tape use and establish and track accurate per pack costs.

Crawford Packaging is a full-service packaging company located in London, Brampton and Waterloo, Ontario. From packaging to packaging equipment, installation and upgrades, and in-person equipment training and repair, we're focused on your business success every step of the way.