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Manufacturers who automate their carton or tray forming operations can experience large productivity increases and labor savings. However, as with purchasing any piece of automation equipment, it’s important to understand how it will fit into your operation and what machine features you should look for when selecting a machine. The following list highlights a few of the criteria you should consider when purchasing a carton former or tray former.
1. Size Flexibility – Look for a carton former that will handle the widest range of carton sizes and formats that you can envision needing now and in the future. Different size cartons often require change parts to the machine, but this of course is a much less expensive option than purchasing a new machine. A carton former should also handle hot melt, simplex, or lock format cartons on the same machine. Likewise, the PLC controlling the carton former should store multiple recipes to speed changeovers.
2. Material Flexibility – The material used for carton or trays, often paperboard, can experience variances in size and thickness from the supplier. Your carton former needs to be able to tolerate these minor fluctuations. Look for features such as spring loaded forming cavities that can compensate for these variances and assure even compression and sealing of carton flaps even with minor material fluctuations.
3. Carton Blank Control – One of the key sources of jams in carton formers is when the carton blank becomes misaligned. Look for machines that provide positive carton blank control from magazine picking through forming head placement.
4. Accurate & Flexible Hot Melt Glue Placement – For cartons secured using hot melt, its application to the carton is critical. The carton former needs to accurately control the carton blank position, distance from the glue applicator, and velocity while applying the hot melt to achieve consistent results. The length the machine can apply this uninterrupted hot melt onto the carton impacts the possible carton size ranges and therefore also affects the overall flexibility of the machine.
Of course there are other factors to consider when selecting a carton former for your operation such as speed, safety features, documentation & support, as well as overall durability, but the 4 tips above should provide a starting point in selecting the right carton or tray former for your operation. The video below demonstrates how the Doboy Cobra carton former addresses some of these selection criteria.