Buying your first automated packaging machine is a big decision.
If you are starting to wonder if it’s time to invest in automated packaging machinery, we’re here to help.
Our first-time buyer’s resources will help you understand the different types of packaging machines, answer the most common packaging machinery questions, and provide tips on how to make the best packaging automation decision for your business.
You can even prepare for your first phone call with a packaging machine specialist by downloading the list of questions we use during a consultation!
Frequently Asked Questions
What's the difference between semi-automatic and fully automatic packaging systems?
A fully automated packaging system is optimized for high speeds and minimal human involvement. These solutions are best for companies that run a high number of products with relatively low variation. A fully automated line could include things like equipment to feed the product to the system, a scale to weigh the product, and a machine to place the product into bags. Automated systems provide a high level of accuracy and consistency, but require a larger upfront investment.
A semi-automatic packaging system still requires a substantial level of human labor. For example, a company could use an automated scale to weigh the product, but require a human to dispense the product into bags and seal them. Semi-automatic packaging lines are a great place to start if you're not quite ready for full automation. In many cases, individual pieces of a semi-automatic line can be integrated at a later date with other equipment to create a fully automated system. Overall, semi-automatic packaging lines have a much lower cost of entry, but are slower and less accurate than fully automated systems.
What types of flexible packaging machines do you offer?
Viking Masek offers a variety of flexible packaging machines that can satisfy almost any requirement.
We offer POUCH FILLING AND SEALING MACHINES that are loaded with preformed bags which are then filled with product and sealed shut. These machines are easy to learn and operate and can be run with low-skilled labor. The end product they produce has a premium look. Adjusting these machines for new bags is simple, so they are great for companies that have varied bags sizes and short runs.
We also offer VERTICAL FORM FILL SEAL (VFFS) PACKAGING MACHINES. This equipment forms bag shapes, fills the bags with product, and seals them shut, all in a vertical fashion. These machines are established technology capable of high speeds and economical in cost. They do, however, require a higher level of expertise to operate and troubleshoot and are best for dedicated lines without much variation in product and bag styles.
Finally, we offer cartoning equipment that erects cardboard cartons, counts out a number of packages, places the bags into the cartons, and seals the cartons shut.
Viking Masek is a single-source supplier, meaning that we can also source, integrate, install, and service equipment from other OEM partners.
How much does packaging equipment cost?
There is no quick, easy answer to this question. Packaging machinery is specific to the customer, so arriving at 'standard pricing' isn't usually practical. But we can provide a range: For fully automated systems, you can expect to pay in the mid-to-high five figure range all the way up to millions of dollars.
Pricing largely depends upon your unique needs: The products you want to package, the speeds you would like to achieve, your bag styles and sizes, the complexity of your process, and how quick you need the machine delivered.
Generally, the more complex, customized, or high-speed the packaging process is, the more you can expect to pay.
Can one packaging machine handle different bag styles, sizes, and products?
The short answer is "Usually, yes." Adjusting a machine to accommodate different bags is called changeover, and it can take from minutes to hours depending upon many variables.
The longer answer: Sometimes a one-size-fits-all machine isn't the best choice. The more varied your needs are, the more it may make sense to invest in multiple systems or automate only certain parts of the process. Reason being, packaging machines are optimized to run within certain parameters. If your needs are varied, accommodating those variations within machine parameters can be complex, costly, and inefficient. It can sometimes be better to have a machine that does one thing really well than a machine that does many things 'just okay'.
What's the difference between rollstock film and premade bags?
Knowing the packaging material format you require informs which machinery the equipment manufacturer recommends.
Here are descriptions of two major flexible packaging formats:
Rollstock film is a long, flat sheet of (usually plastic) packaging material that is wound around a hollow core. It is usually pre-printed with graphics. This large roll of film is loaded onto the back of a form fill seal machine which then forms it into bag shapes, fills the bags with product, and seals them shut. Rollstock film is generally economical in cost per bag and can run at high speeds.
Premade bags arrive at the packaging facility already formed into their end bag shape. They are loaded into a pouch fill and seal machine that fills them with product and seals them shut. Premade bags have a premium look that can't be beat, but usually cost more per impression than bags created from rollstock film.
What are packaging machine fillers/dosers and do I need one?
The packaging machine itself does not measure or dispense product. Instead, integrated filling or dosing equipment measures out discrete quantities of product into the packaging machine to be dispensed into the bags. Fillers usually sit above or off to the side of the packaging machine.
Depending upon your needs, different fillers will be recommended. Here are some of the most widely used:
- Auger fillers are often used for powder products. This equipment uses a long screw-like mechanism to measure product into bags.
- Multi-head scales are often used for solid products. These highly accurate systems use weigh buckets to weigh out product before dropping it into bags.
- Liquid pumps usually use a piston mechanism to measure specific volumes of liquid product into bags.
You do not have to have a filler to be able to use a packaging machine. However, if a filler is not present, a human must stand-in. This will limit the system's speed and accuracy. Most of our clients integrate their packaging machine with a filler.
How fast can packaging equipment run?
Packaging equipment speeds are usually represented by bags per minute (BPM), which is how many finished bags can be completed per minute. Machines will usually be rated for a maximum number of bags per minute. Generally, automated flexible packaging machines can be rated for anywhere from 30 - 300 bags per minute.
Actual production speeds, however, depend on many factors. Your product properties, bag sizes and styles, plant environment, and technical skill of operators will all factor in to actual speeds.
The best way to estimate actual production speeds is to send in film/bag and product samples to the packaging machine manufacturer for testing.
before requesting pricing
Think it's time to contact a packaging machine manufacturer for pricing? First, take some time to make sure the high-level parameters of your project are defined. Read about the 5 most vital pieces of information we need to provide the most accurate pricing as part of your equipment proposal.
Questions to prepare for
Fair warning: To ensure the packing machine we recommend is ideal for your needs, we typically ask a bunch of questions during our initial conversations. Get ahead of the game! Download our free list of discovery questions to get started on the road to packaging automation success.
Download our free first-time buyer's guidebook.
Our experts break down everything you need to know to choose the right packaging equipment for your business.