As automation becomes more and more of a focus for packaging manufacturers, we take a look at some of the technologies that are driving the industry towards greater efficiency. Because the demands are complex there is no shortage of automated packaging tools to meet the requirements. Hughes Enterprises, one of the leading suppliers of packaging solutions to a variety of industries – especially the food and beverage sectors – provides some of the most innovative technologies currently available on the market. Here we have highlighted a number of the leading technologies that the company currently offers to the packaging industry.

One of the premier technologies in recent years has been automated case sealers and erectors. A unit like the Combi Ergopack takes a flat box, forms it, seals the bottom and presents it for loading. This offers three main advantages.

    • First, less people are necessary to perform this menial task.
    • Second, it eliminates an ergonomically undesirable process.
    • And third, it presents each box only moments before it is needed, rather than the alternative — paying for both a labourer to form a shift’s worth of boxes ahead of time and the wasted plant capacity used to store empty boxes.

Automatic stretch wrappers is another field which is rapidly growing. The strength of stretch wrap comes not from the volume used, but from maximising ‘material memory’ by stretching the wrap to within a few foot-pounds of its breaking strength. Stretch wrappers use exactly the amount needed and wrap to a standard tension, every time. As a rule, any operation that needs to wrap 15 or more pallets each day can see a cost-benefit from automated stretch wrapping systems from companies like Wulftec.

Ultimately the decision to automate any process comes down to a combination of quality, safety, ergonomic and cost-benefit analysis. But, while automation was once the bastion of only giant corporations, new systems and designs are attractive to even the smallest operations.

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