Packaging equipment refers to the various types of machinery used in the process of enclosing or protecting products and materials for the purposes of storage, sale, distribution and use. Also known as packaging machinery, packaging equipment is used to automate the packaging process, reducing labor time and cost as well as increasing process efficiency.
In addition to the traditional enclosing and protecting of products, packaging machinery enables certain packaging types that would be impossible to accomplish through human labor, such as tamper-evident bottlenecks. Through the installation of packaging systems, companies in many industries are able to streamline their packaging processes for applications such as over-the-counter and prescription drug packaging performed by pharmaceutical packaging equipment; packaging bakery goods, fresh produce and more using food packaging equipment like shrink wrap machines and heat sealers; packing electronic devices such as cell phones and cameras into water-resistant packaging through the use of vacuum packing machines; and for storage of various chemicals such as solvents and acids through the use of bagging machines or filling machines. Laminating machines and strapping machines are also provided by many packaging equipment manufacturers, who also at times provide used packaging equipment as a cost-efficient alternative.
There are many different reasons that a product or part may require packaging. Some of the most common reasons are physical protection, containment, ease of handling and portion control. Packaging serves as an effective method of physical protection against extreme temperatures, vibrations and compression for fragile products such as glass or porcelain. The same is true for products such as food items that require a barrier between possible contaminants such as dust or water vapor. Packaging for the purposes of containment is typically done as a method of storage or for increased efficiency when handling products for retail purposes. For instance, when sugar is sold it must be packaged in order to contain granules that would otherwise be unmanageable. As a result, sugar is also an example of a product that is packaged for ease of handling purposes, which allows it to be distributed, stacked and displayed in a more efficient manner. Other reasons that packaging is done for ease of handling purposes is for applications such as dispensing and re-use. Packaging machinery is also an effective means by which manufacturers and distributors can ensure the correct allotment of product portions. In packages of small fasteners, for example, machines can be used to correctly count and distribute the appropriate number of fasteners per shipping or sale package. This prevents accidental loss of products due to miscounting, and it also reduces the chances of delivering packages with too few products to customers.In order to address the variety of packaging needs, there is a wide variety of packaging equipment types. Categorized by the method used to package products, the main types include filling machines, sealing machines and vacuum packaging machines. Filling machines are used to take previously manufactured packaging and fill that packaging with a certain number of parts, whether it is one large part or a hundred small parts. A bagging machine is a type of filling machine in which the packaging is specifically limited to bags; bags are defined as containers made from flexible materials such as paper or plastic that have a single opening. Perhaps the most common type of packaging machinery for industrial and food handling applications, vacuum packing machines provide air-tight packaging by first removing the atmospheric oxygen in the package and then sealing the package.
Strapping machines do not quite fit within the main categories of packaging equipment. Straps are long, narrow strips of flexible material, often a durable plastic, that are affixed to an item for the purposes of bundling, containing or securing. Strapping machines are used to address the same type of packaging needs as the more conventional types of packaging equipment. Not always used separately, various types of packaging machines or many of the same type of packaging machinery can be used to form packaging systems. Packaging systems are often required in industries with bulk packaging needs, such as manufacturing, agriculture, food and chemical processing, in order to optimize process productivity. In packaging systems, there are often primary packaging machines, performing the initial packaging of the product; secondary packaging machines, used to group all the single packages into one larger package; and even tertiary packaging machines, used to load a bulk amount of packages for distribution purposes. Since packaging systems and machinery can be expensive, there are companies that provide used packaging equipment in order to provide consumers with an alternative to more expensive, new equipment. One disadvantage of used packaging equipment is that it is often fitted to the previous owner's application and may not perform quite as well as a new, custom-fitted packaging machine. As long as there is a need to place products in packages, there will continue to be a need for both used and new packaging machinery.
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- The number of units (bags, cartons, boxes etc.) a machine can deliver within a one minute period.
- Two edges of material welded together without overlapping to create a seal along a narrow strip.
- Wheels that are available for most conveyors and sealers. They allow machinery to be easily portable in times of cleanup and changeover.
- Used in packaging to close a container or package.
- Parts of packaging equipment that, because of wear and tear, need to be replaced frequently.
- The mechanical deformation of a material. This is typically used on metals.
- Three critical sealing parameters that directly contribute to the seal quality when using a heat seal. These are temperature, pressure and dwell time.
- The time that a bag being sealed shut is exposed to pressure and heat.
- A mechanism that encodes a date or lot code on a container or bag by pressing metal characters upon it. Emboss coders deform the bags or containers rather than apply ink to them.
- The floor space that a piece of equipment occupies.
- The weight of a product and the container it occupies.
- An industrial scale that is used to weigh a product in its final package before being shipped.
- A group of products that are ready to be processed by packaging machinery into bundles and multi-packs.
- A mechanism that codes bags or containers by pressing ink-coated characters against the material.
- A device that responds to pressure and provides a reading to describe the source of the pressure.
- Part of the packaging process that holds cartons, carton blanks, leaflets, labels, lids and stackable containers.
- A mechanical assembly that is used to form a bag or carton.
- The gross weight of a packaged product minus the tare weight.
- Process that provides a 5-sided protection and unitization by forming a bag from a tubular roll of thermoplastic, placing it loosely over the load and applying heat, either using gas or electric, to shrink the film to the form of the load.
- A process, more prevalent than stretchwrapping, that provides 5-sided protection and unitization by forming a bag from a tubular roll of thermoplastic, and stretches it over the entire load. The under pallet stretch function provides more load stability by unitizing the load with the pallet.
- Process that involves wrapping thermoplastic film tightly around a product.
- Materials that cannot be melted but are heat-sealable.
- The weight of the bag or container alone.
- Used to cut off excess amounts of material after a packaging process has been completed.