Today’s packaging companies are doing more business than ever. Their clients range from larger companies placing orders for substantial runs with ample lead time to small businesses that need short runs of boutique packaging as quickly as possible. This creates challenges for packaging factories, but carton folders may be the solution.
A factory is only as efficient as its slowest machine or worker. Eliminating bottlenecks in production is the best way to ensure that clients’ orders get done on time, and most bottlenecks in packaging plants occur in the pressroom.
Pressrooms feature extremely efficient packaging presses. Many can run at speeds of 18,000 sph or higher and feature automated functions. Just pressing the packages efficiently isn’t enough, though. These modern machines are incredibly efficient, but bottlenecks can still occur during later stages of production. This drives down production throughout the factory.
Bottlenecks can also occur in the post-press manufacturing process. As factories develop the capability of printing faster, they also have to be able to diecut, fold, and glue the packages faster. That’s where folding carton gluers come in.
Even if the factory has a carton folder, if it’s not up-to-date, it could cause serious problems. Older machinery is more likely to malfunction, causing unnecessary downtime that affects not just carton folding, but the entire production process. It’s also less efficient, which can create ongoing bottlenecks.
The best way to streamline workflow is to leverage the power of modern technology by purchasing a new carton folder. For those who don’t yet have specialized machinery to complete this task, the increase in automation can save time on handling.
If the factory already has an automated carton folder but it isn’t keeping up with demand, that can also create production bottlenecks. The result is lost time, money, and even customers. Customers who don’t receive the orders on time will look elsewhere for services.
Take Advantage of Continuous Technological Improvements
Aging machinery or even manpower alone may be enough to get a packaging plant off the ground. As the manufacturer grows its client base, the factory’s equipment will need to be upgraded to ensure that its employees can keep up with demand.
The technology associated with industrial machinery is improving all the time. The only way for factory owners to leverage the power of that technology is to keep their machinery up-to-date. A recently manufactured carton folder will be able to handle longer runs quicker than an aging machine, and it won’t be at risk of breaking down.
By replacing their aging industrial equipment, factory owners can also increase their speed of production. Newer machines work faster without sacrificing quality. For factories that still employ workers to fold cartons, the difference in efficiency will be absolutely astonishing.
Those who are working with older equipment also need to keep efficiency in mind. It would make no sense to upgrade equipment found earlier in the manufacturing chain, only to allow packaging products to build up and create a bottleneck in post-production.
Factory owners who have it in the budget should consider upgrading all their equipment at once. After all, carton folders aren’t the only pieces of equipment that start to break down or lose efficiency as they age. Packaging presses and die-cutters have the same problems.
Increase the Factory’s Short-Run Capacity
Today’s product manufacturers come in all sizes. Large, well-established companies typically request long runs and offer plenty of lead time on their orders. Smaller companies don’t always have that option, though.
Packaging companies that want to take on new clients can’t restrict themselves to working only with well-established companies placing huge orders. Unless they’ve already established a consistent client base and partnered with multiple popular manufacturers, they’ll have to work with smaller clients, as well. This may require purchasing machinery specifically designed to increase efficiency on short-run orders.
When most packaging company owners think about increasing efficiency during short runs, they immediately consider purchasing new die-cutters. If their existing machinery isn’t keeping up with demand, that’s a great idea. However, it doesn’t eliminate the need for purchasing new carton folders.
Replacing only the die-cutter will just move the bottleneck to another area of post-production. The best bet is to replace all machinery as needed to eliminate bottlenecks and ensure maximum productivity.
Packaging manufacturers need to operate at high speeds to keep up with clients’ orders. If operating at high speeds means producing products that aren’t up-to-snuff, though, that’s a huge problem. Most clients won’t be willing to accept less-than-perfect products, so purchasing equipment that isn’t reliable when operated at high speeds can cost packaging manufacturers a lot of money.
Improperly cut, died, or folded packages are all but useless. They’ll need to be recycled. Producing packaging that can’t be sold costs factory owners money in a few ways. It wastes time, creates extra waste that must then be disposed of, and, if the company’s quality assurance team doesn’t catch 100% of the problems, it could even cost packaging companies some of their loyal clients.
There are two additional factors to keep in mind when purchasing a carton folder above and beyond speed and reliability. All equipment used on the manufacturing floor must be both user friendly and safe for workers.
If a new carton folder operates more efficiently when it’s working but requires frequent maintenance or adjustments, that can all but eliminate the boost in speed it offers on the factory floor. Workers need to be able to use the machines safely and efficiently without worrying about frequent adjustments. They also need to be able to switch from one job to the next quickly and efficiently, especially if the company handles many short runs instead of larger orders.
Workers should receive dedicated training on how to use any new machinery added to the production floor. They should also receive ongoing safety training to ensure that they are using it properly and aren’t putting themselves in harm’s way. No amount of production improvements are worth risking workers’ safety, especially when they’re using high-efficiency, high-speed machines.
No factory owner wants to deal with frequent machine breakdowns. The down time this creates on the floor extends beyond carton folding to impact the rest of the production line. Downtime occurs most frequently when old machines experience unexpected breakdowns and require frequent repairs, but even little issues like the need for frequent adjustments can have a negative cumulative impact on production.
Purchasing new equipment will all but eliminate downtime, but even the highest-quality machinery will still require ongoing maintenance. Schedule preventative maintenance and inspections to help eliminate unexpected breakdowns. Factory owners can schedule maintenance during off-hours or, if the factory runs 24-7, find times when taking the machines off the line for maintenance will have the least impact on employee efficiency.
There’s another way to reduce the impact of machine downtime. Factory owners who have it in the budget can purchase multiple machines. This allows them to keep one carton folder running while the other one is being maintained or repaired. It also comes with the added advantage of doubling production capacity.
All carton folders feature scoring, perforating, and cutting tools. Not all machines come with extensive add-ons and accessories, though. Whether factory owners want to make the most of their newly purchased equipment or they want to keep up with changing needs on their manufacturing floors, specialized add-ons might be a good solution. Here are a few of the most popular of them:
- Pre-slitter shafts
- Electronic counters with batch control
- Gatefold plates
- Soft polyurethane fold rollers
- Gluing equipment
- Double-stream devices
- And more.
Some of these add-ons and accessories are only appropriate for highly specialized boutique packaging manufacturers. Others are incorporated into new machines’ basic operations. Check with the carton folder’s manufacturer to find out about its capabilities and what types of add-ons or accessories can be used with it if the company’s requirements change.
It makes more sense to purchase a well-designed machine that comes with everything required to fold collapsible box modules of all shapes and sizes. Boutique packaging suppliers should make sure to choose machines that are compatible with windowing and other features, as well.
The Bottom Line
Purchasing a new carton folder can help improve overall factory productivity. New machines won’t break down and create unnecessary downtime. They’ll be easier for employees to use, and will have more intuitive features than old, poorly designed carton folders. They’ll be able to handle runs of any size depending on clients’ needs quickly, efficiently, and reliably.
Any packaging manufacturer can benefit from purchasing a new carton folder. Whether they’re automating a process that is currently performed by hand or just upgrading existing equipment to keep up with demand, this kind of specialized machinery will provide all the help they need. When in doubt about whether to repair existing machinery or replace it, what equipment manufacturers to trust, or how to provide employee training for new machines, the best thing business owners can do is consult the equipment supplier.