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What is Packaging Automation


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What is Packaging Automation


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Packaging Automation

What is Packaging Automation?

Packaging Automation is the process or procedure of packaging a product without human assistance. Packaging Automation can range from individual equipment to simple process or complete packaging lines. They can be as simple as automatically forming and sealing cartons to fully automated packaging lines that seal, stack and unitize entire pallets of goods. Automated packaging machines provide smart workflows and eliminate redundant tasks, allowing them to do more with less.

Experts in Packaging Automation

Crawford Packaging has been developing impactful and meaningful packaging solutions for over 50 years. We develop turnkey packaging automation solutions that improve productivity and reduce costs. Our highly trained and knowledgeable Packaging Specialists have a deep understanding of the hidden costs that poor packaging processes can have on your operations. These hidden costs drive up cost and reduce profitability.

We work closely with all levels of your packaging operation to identify pain points and alleviate them through the addition of automation and equipment processes. Our post sale programs will help you throughout the startup process with in-depth training and maintenance programs. These programs ensure your automated packaging equipment reaches peak performance rates and operates at maximized levels of efficiency and productivity.  

Hidden Cost of Manual Packaging Equipment

  1. Lower productivity rates
  2. Inconsistent packaging resulting in excessive material use
  3. Increased damages
  4. High labour costs
  5. Risk to employees of Repetitive motion and strain injuries
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How Automation Works


How Does Packaging Automation Help Businesses?

How Automation Works


How Does Packaging Automation Help Businesses?

Our solutions use advanced technology and automatic packaging machines to reduce overall packaging cost. This can include the reduction of required labour, improve material consumption and increased throughput. Consistent throughput rates allow for accurate material usage estimates and improved ordering and storage.

Automated Packaging Equipment Pays for Itself

Packaging automation can be seen as an expensive alternative to manual processes. A hand-held tape gun does cost less than an automatic case sealer. However, once you consider the hidden costs associated with manual packaging processes, automated packaging equipment can save money and pay for itself in a variety of ways.

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Decreased Labour Costs

Labour costs are one of the largest variables that affect a business bottom line. Businesses have to maintain a workforce capable of completing the needed work on time. This can often cause a balancing act to ensure labour costs don't negatively impact profits. Through the addition of packaging equipment solutions businesses are able to reduce the labour required for results. This lets them reduce labour costs or reallocate labour.

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Reduce Packaging Material Waste

Inefficient packaging processes and human errors can often result in a poor pack. Whether it’s a misaligned piece of tape or loose stretch wrap, these errors must be corrected. Minor errors are often fixed by adding more packaging material than budgeted. Major errors may require the removal of misapplied materials and start again from scratch. Automated packaging systems use advanced controls and measurement systems to ensure your packaging is done right, the first time, every time.

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Improved Material Consumption

Automated solutions create consistent packaging processes, improving productivity and reducing waste. This standardizes material use, regulating consumption and improving inventory management. By utilizing automated processes, you ensure that the same amount of material is used per pack.  Only one length of tape or that the same amount of stretch wrap is used from pallet to pallet. Automated equipment also helps to reduce the risk of operator errors. This prevents the need to apply more material than is necessary as well as the time cost of correcting the error.

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Reduced Damages and Unsaleables

Making sure that your goods arrive in as sold condition is a key objective of your packaging. Proper packaging protects your products from a variety of external forces during transport and storage. The automated equipment uses advanced technology and tracking to ensure a consistent package that meets your set standards. This uniformity makes material handling an easier task and improves the strength of your packs.

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Improved Health and Safety

Take the risk out of your packaging process. Automatic packaging equipment requires fewer workers to complete a task than manual processes. By reducing the labour required for a task you reduce the risk of employee injury to complete it. Cuts, pulls and strains are lessened as employees are required to do less hands-on work. By replacing slower more intense manual processes, you can improve employee safety and reduce the costs of workplace injuries.

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Increased Throughput

Do you get tired? Packaging equipment doesn’t. Automated packaging equipment is capable of running for extended periods of time without breaks. Their tireless mechanics allow the equipment to run at higher speeds for extended times. This enables you to greatly increase your packaging throughput. Whether its firmly wrapping loaded pallets or sealing produce in unitized packs, automated packaging equipment can help your drive your production levels to previously unreachable heights.

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Transitioning to Automation


How Hard Is It to Transition to Automated Packaging?

Transitioning to Automation


How Hard Is It to Transition to Automated Packaging?

Automated packaging often requires training and adjustment for operators and technical staff. Our Packaging Equipment Training Program lessen transition times, ensuring your new equipment reaches maximum productivity and efficiency as quickly as possible. Our Packaging Support Programs help elevate the stress on your staff by helping update their processes and knowledge base.

Packaging Equipment Training Program

Our Packaging Specialist and Service Technicians work with your staff to establish a solid understanding of how to operate your new equipment. Training prepares staff for proper machine operation and identifies the available safety features. Technical teams can receive advanced training focused on proper packaging equipment maintenance and preventative maintenance practices. This training covers daily maintenance routines and how to fix equipment breakdowns.  

Packaging Equipment Repair Program

We pride ourselves on the after sales support we offer our customers. That is why we are one of the only packaging equipment vendors in Canada that offer in-house, on staff Service Technicians for packaging machine repairs. From small adjustments to large repair jobs. Our factory trained and certified technicians are able to handle any repair. This allows our technicians to work with your packaging equipment from its installation until the end of its life cycle.

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Packaging Equipment Preventative Maintenance Program

Reduce long-term wear and keep your equipment running at peak performance with regularly scheduled checkups. We offer monthly, quarterly, semi-annual and yearly preventative maintenance plans on a wide range of packaging equipment. Our service team will work with you to understand your production volumes and schedule a plan to match. Preventative maintenance programs can feature aspects such as:

  • Changing of essential fluids
  • Lubrication of moving parts
  • Testing/Recording machine benchmarks
  • Re-calibration of systems if required
  • Required Equipment Adjustments
  • Tightening of Fasteners
  • Operator Interaction Verification
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Types of Automation


Types of Automated Packaging Equipment

Types of Automation


Types of Automated Packaging Equipment

 Stretch Wrapper Automated Packaging Equipment Machine in Manufacturing Facility

Automated Stretch Wrap Equipment

Stretch Wrappers offer a wide variety of benefits over the manual hand wrapping alternative. Stretch wrap equipment uses a rollers system that stretches film at a consistent rate up to 250%. Increased film savings are seen through increased stretch film roll lengths Adjustable controls allow for wrap customization and the ability to optimize film use. Proper stretch film processes ensure that your wrapper uses the right amount of film to achieve your load containment goal. The consistent stretch process reduces the risk of loose wraps that can occur when hand wrapping. This ensures that your pallets don’t require additional wraps, or even worse a complete re-wrapping of the pallet or load failure.

The consistent processes and improved rates of film consumption are only part of the machine wrapping benefit. Stretch wrap equipment helps to increase product throughput and employee efficiency. Stretch wrappers are available in both semi-automatic and fully automatic formats. Automatic systems are available for a variety of load types, with Turntable Stretch Wrappers being optimal for A and B load formats and Rotary Arm Stretch Wrappers for large B and C loads.

Pallet Load Profile "A"

Type "A" loads have uniform horizontal and vertical edge profiles. The load footprint is nearly the same size as the pallet itself. There are few protruding edges to puncture the stretch wrap as it is applied.

Pallet Load Profile "B"

Type "B" loads do not have the same uniform vertical and horizontal edge profiles. The load pattern may vary, and the footprint may be different from the pallet. A “B” type can have edges that puncture.

Pallet Load Profile "C"

Type "C" loads vary from pallet to pallet. No two "C" loads will have the same edge profiles. Sharp edges will require additional management and a higher quality stretch film could be required to prevent punctures.

Semi-Automatic Stretch Wrappers

Semi-automatic stretch wrappers allow for easy pallet drop off and can be quickly started by an operator or fork truck driver. They are then able to move on to other tasks as the automatic wrapping cycle takes over. Once complete the pallet is ready to be swapped out for an unwrapped one. Semi-automatic stretch wrappers are perfect for packaging solutions that are not using a fully integrated line and are wrapping between 20 and 30 loads an hour.  

Automatic Stretch Wrappers

Fully automatic stretch wrapping systems can be integrated into automated packaging lines or used in high volume areas to improve efficiency. These systems do not require an operator to start a wrapping cycle or trim and attach the wrap tail. Automatic stretch wrappers use motorized conveyors to build a queue of pallets to wrap. A pallet is transferred to the wrapping area via automatic conveyors. The conveyors are also responsible for removing the pallet once the wrap process is complete. This allows for lift truck drivers to continually drop off and pick up pallets with no need to get off their truck to start the cycle. When integrated into a complete packaging line the wrapper will wrap skids as they move through the system. An automatic stretch wrapper is perfect for fully automated packaging lines or when more than 30 loads are being wrapped per hour.


 Food Processing Shrink Wrap Automated Packaging Equipment

Automated Shrink Film Packaging

Fully automatic shrink wrap packaging systems offer a highly productive alternative to lengthy and dangerous hand shrinking processes. Automated systems use automated infeed conveyors to move parts into the shrink bag forming area. Once a bag has been formed around the product it is moved into a heating tunnel for shrinking. These automated processes provide increased productivity as operators are not required to position the part and operator the sealing arm. The pre-programmed recipes ensure a standard process that creates consistent bag sizes at the exact size required. Properly sized and trimmed bags that are the same size will produce a consist package with no burning or excess material. When paired with a shrink tunnel these systems seamless process of shrink packaging at an increased pace. Automated shrink packaging systems eliminate the need for operators to use hand-held heat guns. These guns operate at high temperatures can be hazardous to both employees and the workspace around them.

Automatic L-Sealers

Automatic L-Sealers use a conveyor fed automatic operation that can process up 20 to 35 packages a minute.  Soft feed conveyors carry products into the system and place them inside the folded shrink film. An adjustable sealing arm raises and lowers once the product has moved into the system. Once sealed, the closed pouch is moved into a shrink tunnel and the film is tightened by the heat. These automated shrink wrap systems are the perfect solution for businesses who need to wrap between 20 and 35 packages a minute.

Continuous Motion Shrink Wrapping Systems

Continuous Motion Shrink Wrappers use a similar process as automatic L-Sealers. A product is moved into the machine and wrapped in plastic which is then shrunk tight to the product. The key difference between the two is that in a Continuous Motion Machine, the product does not stop for the sealing process. This allows for higher production rates. The continuous motion systems allow for a variety of products to be packaged on the same machine. Some machines even have the capability of running varying sized parts at the same time. These systems have higher production rates compared to their L-Sealing counterpart.


Automatic Horizontal Flow Wrapping

 Flow Wrapper Infographic Showing Labour Savings

Horizontal flow wrapping, or horizontal form-fill and seal packaging is the process of creating a flexible bag around a product. This process can be similar to Form-Fill and Seal shrink wrapping but is used for products that do not need the shrinking process. The automated process uses a single sheet of heat weldable film that is wrapped around the product. An end and side seal is created and as the pack moves through the machine the end is sealed. This packaging format is commonly seen in grocery stores for multi-product packs or trays of fresh produce. It is also a commonly used format for packaging types of processed food.

Automatic Flow Wrapping equipment offers a variety of benefits over manual packaging formats. With packaging speeds upwards of 100 or more packs a minute, Flow Wrapping offers a much higher throughput than manually filling and sealing bags. The fully sealed flow wrap packages offer a completely sealed package that provides tamper-evident seals for increased product security. The sealed packages use advanced material compositions to protect from elements like dust and light. The advanced polymer films also extend product life cycles through the exchange of gasses that cause spoiling.  


 tomatoes being packaged in trays on tray seal lidding machine

Automated Tray Sealing Equipment

Automated Tray Sealing and Lidding Equipment offer businesses a fast, effective packaging solution. The automated systems feed punnets filled with products into the machine's tooling. The tooling takes the containers into the machine where heat is used to affix a plastic film. Films are available in a variety of material compositions and can include added features like peal and re-seal, perforation, venting and many more.

Automated Tray Sealers have been a revolution in the produce and food packaging industries. The automated tooling is capable of handling multiple units and package between 45 and 200 packs a minute. Advanced designs use up to 25% less packaging material, decreasing per pack costs and material consumption.


Automated Case Erecting and Sealing Equipment

Case handling equipment provide packaging lines with a fast, easy and efficient of forming and sealing cartons during the packaging process. These systems offer a variety of solutions that make them a capable fit for any packaging operation. The system uses state of the art manufacturing and design to provide a consistent, square carton every time. This consistency adds strength and stability when cartons are stacked and prepared for transport.

Improved Employee Health and Safety

Automated case erecting and case sealing equipment can help to alleviate the risk posed by the manual process to employees. The repetitive motions required to form and tape cartons with a manual tape gun. Throughout the day this would be repeated hundreds of times. The repetitiveness of this process often leads to painful stress and strain to muscles which can lead to serious repetitive strain injuries like Carpal Tunnel or Tendinitis.

 Man packaging case of wine on case sealing automated packaging equipment

Automated Case Erectors

Automated case erectors provide a consistent process to form perfectly squared cartons that increase strength and stacking ability. Semi-automatic case erectors are perfect for on the fly packaging situations where a carton is packed as soon as it as formed. Semi-automatic case erectors can often act as an effective packaging station for pick pack operators and fulfillment centres. Their fully automatic counterparts are heavy duty machines that are integrated directly into a packaging line. These systems only require an operator to load blank cartons and monitor for any jams or errors. The blanks are formed, and bottom seals are applied before the completed carton is fed out of the machine and into the line. Fully automatic case erectors are perfect for high volume packaging lines and can form 10 to 20 cases per minute. Pair a case erector with a case sealer for greater carton efficiency with a complete forming and sealing system.

Automated Case Sealers

Automatic case sealers use side or bottom moving belts to move filled cartons under the tape head. The tape head is lowered and applies pressure and tape to the top flaps. Units are available as uniform case sealers and random case sealers. Uniform case sealers close and seal cases of similar height as they move through the machine. To seal cases that are a different size an operator needs to adjust the height of the tape head. A Random case sealer is a fully autonomous system that uses sensors to detect the height of the next box. The sealer then self-adjusts the tape head height before the case passes through. These systems require minimal operator interaction based on the application. Operators are required to change the tape cartridges and feed cartons into the sealers conveyor system. Automated case sealers can be integrated into fully automated packaging lines to provide even greater levels of efficiency and productivity.


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Automated Printing and Labeling Equipment

Decrease errors and improve traceability with automated printing and label application equipment. Automated printing systems use computers and counters to ensure accuracy. This helps business to supply their logistics providers and clients with consistent, easy to read labels. Labeling and case coding is an essential part of developing an effective lot trace strategy. Automated Printing and labeling systems are available in a variety of formats. Labeling can be either printed on a sticker and applied or printed directly to the carton via industrial inkjet printing or thermal transfer printing processes.


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Contact for Automation


Contact Crawford Packaging

Contact for Automation


Contact Crawford Packaging

Could automated packaging be your next addition? Contact us today and schedule a free packaging consultation with one of our highly trained and knowledgeable Packaging Specialists. Our Specialist will visit your packaging facility and work with you to identify areas that could be improved through the addition of automation.

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