By: Mike Rann, Equipment Specialist
In any facility there are some packaging positions that will require an operator based on footprint/ space constraints, inconsistent product volume or changes, actual product and/or budgetary constraints. In these instances, when looking to automate another quick solution is a case sealer.
Depending on the type of case sealer, this machine can be very versatile and perform more than one function. For instance, a uniform side belt case sealer can be used to tape the bottom of a box first and then that same box once packed can be run again through the same machine for top only taping.
Case sealers come in two varieties:
- Semi-automatic – operator presents (folds the major and minor flaps) the box to the machine while the machine tapes either top and bottom, top only or bottom only of the box.
- Fully-automatic – usually a powered conveyor feeds the box into the machine. The machine will fold the top minor and major flaps then applies tape to both the top and bottom or top only to the box. In addition to electricity, these case sealers require air to assist in folding the flaps.
Within these two varieties of case sealers are two different versions:
- Uniform or manually adjustable – meaning the operator is required to adjust for any variety of box sizes by manually changing the box width and height. A uniform application consists of boxes running in batches of the same size.
- Random – just as the name describes. Machine automatically adjusts itself based on the individual box width and height. To make this adjustment, usually requires either air or a servo motor. The most common applications are primarily distribution centers, 3rd Party Logistics organizations and contract packagers (they use temp labor and don’t want operators adjusting the machines).
To determine which taper best fits your application depends on 3 questions:
- What are the box sizes and packed weights?
- How many cases per minute?
- What type of packing line application, uniform or random?
A uniform semi-automatic case sealer begins to pay for itself in as little as 250-300 boxes per day over a 12 month period. One should see an increased efficiency and decrease in tape costs. An operator on average will use 30% more tape to tape a box (double strips, various tab lengths, etc.) than a machine (between 2-1/2” or 2-1/4”). In addition, machine length tape comes in 1000 yd., 1500 yd., and 2000 yd. rolls as compared to hand tape which is 110yd. Finally, a uniform semi-automatic machine can usually tape a box between 10-15 cases per minute (based on the operator’s dexterity) where an operator on average usually takes 20 seconds to open the box, turn upside and fold/tape the box, pack the box, and fold the top major/minor flaps then apply tape.