Why modularity matters when buying packaging machinery

Buying tabletop packaging machinery is pretty easy to do on eBay or Amazon and it is no different than buying any other product online these days.  Low price and low risk, but what about industrial production and packaging machinery?


It is pretty common for me to meet with food entrepreneurs who launched a product at the farmer’s market, then got into a handful of retail stores and they are now about to be listed in one of the big chain.  This is when they start looking at more automated packaging systems to avoid time consuming and expensive manual labor.


Many people are looking for a single machine that will do everything, not only their current 8oz cups, but also the portion packs and the 5 gallon pails.  If anybody is offering you such machine, run away.


Equally important for most SME Managers buying packaging machinery, DO NOT expect a machine to run without operators.  Most operations will require somebody to load stacks of empty containers and somebody to put the filled containers into cases.


That being said, once the needs are expressed and a price given for a complete packaging system, it is quite possible that this price is way above budget.  The human nature will be to keep shopping around for a system performing the same tasks at a better price.  This will often result in buying a system solely based on price while jeopardizing future capacity to serve your customers properly.


After thorough analysis, if you conclude you cannot afford the complete solution with the right quality components, you should not compromise with the cheaper solution that “does it all”, but rather invest in good quality components you can grow with.


This leads me to the main topic I want to discuss in this article, modularity.  A specific component of a modular packaging system will immediately help you improve a costly or painful task and pay for itself very quickly.  A good example is to invest in a good quality filler or scale to reduce product give-away or avoid spills.  It can be used in a semi-automated way for a while and fully automated into a system in the future.


Another example could be to invest in a long autonomy cup or tub denester on a production line where an automatic filler is already in place.  Instead of feeding containers one-by-one to a conveyor, the operator can load several stacks of cups or tubs and perform other tasks on the line.  Whenever a new and faster filler is purchased, this denester can still be used to feed the improved line.


The key to successful implementation of a modular packaging line is planning and a good line design from the beginning.  A good example would be to leave 6’ of conveyor space for a future machine in a production line.  If done at the manufacturer’s plant, the cost will be insignificant, but if added at the customer’s plant a year later, it becomes a costly project because it involves sending service technicians and moving other components on the line.


Whenever possible, purchasing packaging machinery should not be a last minute thing.  Otherwise, the key decision-making factors become lead time and price, arguably two of the worst metrics to consider for such a business decision.


Working with packaging automation expert from the start will probably save you money and certainly help you avoid many pitfalls.

Feel free to contact us today to set-up a meeting.  link-pack.com/contact

Jean-François Biron

Sales and marketing background in the automation and packaging equipment industries. Strong interest in technologies, new packaging development, sustainability and marketing strategies.