Folding Solutions For New Market Trends; economy meets innovation
Duran Machinery / Omega Folder Gluers
We all know that it takes more than productivity, efficiency, and low-cost operations for having the competitive edge. The folding carton industry is well equipped with high quality machinery which provides the competency. However, it takes “thinking out of the box” to stand out. Having the ability of adding more to the business comes with the correct use of design and innovation, both in end product and the equipment which produce them and folding & gluing is a convenient work station for carton makers and trade finishers to differentiate their business from their competitors.
Productivity, versatility and build-quality should be the main points when evaluating a new folder gluer. The machine has to comply with the production range in carton styles, sizes and substrate and has to provide a consistent run with the targeted speeds with optimal make-ready times. These are the key elements of productivity of the folding & gluing process and are mostly easily achievable by high quality machinery. Of course they need to be accompanied by other qualities to make up for the correct gluer, such as compatibility with additional systems, meeting the safety standards and having a good after-sales support but all of these are the basics we are accustomed to. Today’s trends require more than that.
We have been observing an economy driven trend since 2008, which is basically focusing on how to produce the same product range with more economical processes. This requires higher speeds, consistent runs, minimal make-ready times as well as some new developments on the folding & gluing process. The correct folder gluer for specific requirements can allow for a good deal of saving. If the product range includes a big variety of carton styles, a multi-functional folder gluer is a must. In this case, it is important to make sure that the machine makes ready between carton styles quickly and easily. The down time between change overs has to be studied carefully for an efficient production and the best way to evaluate this would be making trials with the user’s own blanks. Motorized features and memory make a great impact on the up-time of the machine by reducing make-ready times. Considering the increasing demand of smaller batch runs; these options might be a good investment even when the product range is not very wide in different carton styles.
Additional equipment such as pre-feeders and packers might also be required to speed up the finishing process. High speed runs are a must to be competitive, mostly manual feeding and packing does not match the speed of the gluers. Even if these equipment are not considered at the initial investment decision, it is a good point to be able to have them provided by the same manufacturer; which will avoid future integration problems.
New developments on the folding process are becoming useful tools in increasing productivity. Blank turning units are effective on shorter processes; they allow for specific blanks to be run at single pass instead of two. Combining processes on the gluer, such as incorporating the machine with embossing or tape application units, inlet spotters and window patchers, can be an important value add as well.
Modularity of the gluer might be another point to consider in this aspect. If expanding the product range with new carton styles is a possibility, such as adding a 4 & 6 corners function, it is advantageous that the machine can be upgraded with additional carton styles. This will allow for an easier investment in the future.
We are also observing that the demand for flame sealers is increasing notably in the last years, we consider this a part of the economy driven trend. Flame sealers are folder gluers which produce PE coated cartons for aseptic packaging, mostly for beverages and foodstuff. The PE coating takes away the necessity of primary packaging in some food products and they are presented to the market with the carton packaging only, which brings an important advantage on the packaging cost.
The second trend, which is continuously getting stronger, is all about the structural design of the carton. It might be sourcing from adding up to the shelf-appeal of the carton; new carton designs to allow for a better presentation of the product inside or again with economy in mind; having the same end result with less material and shorter processes. This trend is bringing its own challenges along with opportunities.
It is obvious that cartons have a lot to offer in structural design but the new cartons bring the critical question into spotlight; “Are they achievable?” Naturally we all think in terms of machinery capabilities when evaluating for new carton designs and decide which ones cannot be run by the gluers. This might be one of the biggest obstacles in the innovative aspect of the business, but it may be well overcome. Our point of view is quite different than the usual; we are encouraging our customers to surpass their expectations from standard equipment. Instead of forcing the standard machines to run the new designs, we design and manufacture the folder gluer for the required new carton designs which also runs the standard jobs perfectly.
These special projects sometimes require three design offices; machine manufacturer, carton maker and their customer to cooperate for the initial design to realize the targeted result. Obviously it takes more than the standard manufacturing routine but produces a valuable result for the industry; design offices don’t need to limit their imagination by existing machine capabilities.
Given that the standard jobs will be run with the targeted high speeds as usual and the new cartons are achievable on the same gluer, the new carton designs become more of an opportunity; they are powerful tools for differentiating the business by being able to present more to the market.