Everyone knows packaging can be the differentiating factor for the consumer at that “first moment of truth” as they make their selection from crowded retail shelves. Consumer packaged goods (CPGs) companies also understand the revenue growth and margin enhancement, which can come along with upgraded packaging with eye-catching colors, designs and features useful to consumers.
Herein lies the challenge for many CPGs: How to bring new packaging designs and additional SKUs to the marketplace, without increasing the costs and complexity of their production operations? In other words, how can the production department efficiently produce and package all those grandiose ideas coming out of the marketing department? For flexible packaging, pre-made bags and pouches, coupled with an effective fill/seal machine, can provide package design flexibility, while offering a simpler plant operating environment.
Pre-Made Bags Explained
Not all pre-made bags are equally flexible, though. Form/fill/seal (rollstock) systems offer limited creative flexibility to the marketer as well as increasing the complexity of a manufacturing operation. While these systems can offer a good total cost solution for relatively simple package designs with limited SKU/high volume products, CPGs should consider all costs associated with a rollstock packaging operation such as downtime, scrap packaging, scrap product and maintenance when making an accurate comparison to a pre-made pouching fill/seal system.
For a pre-made bagging solution to work most effectively, there are packaging systems in the marketplace which enable the pre-made bag to be filled and sealed quickly, regardless of the shape and size of the package, with short changeover times. Schur Packaging Systems, Inc. has created equipment that offers these benefits, and has been supplying the European market for more than twenty years with an installed base in Europe of over 500 packaging systems. Schur has now opened a new packaging conversion facility in Elk Grove Village, Illinois to service the North American marketplace as well.
The SchurStar packaging system couples the SchurStar fill/seal packaging machine with SchurStar pre-made bags to achieve running speeds of up to 80 bags per minute and changeover times in the 5-10 minute range. What’s the secret? SchurStar bags are produced and sold to customers as a chain of pre-made bags. The polyethylene carrier chain has evenly spaced holes that match up to the drive chain on the SchurStar machine to allow the chain of bags to be conveyed through SchurStar’s filling and sealing operation.
Regardless of the size or shape of the bag, the spacing of these carrier holes in the chain remains constant.
Five Minute Changeovers?
When a changeover is desired, the operator simply splices the chain at the end of one SKU/bag to the starting chain of a new SKU/bag. Usually, this can be accomplished without shutting the machine down or wasting any packaging or product. Once the bag has been filled, the SchurStar machine automatically removes the carrier chain prior to sealing. The polyethylene chain is collected on the side of the machine for easy recycling.
Because of the horizontal path of the open pouches as they move through the SchurStar fill and seal system, the bags can be filled by hand or with automated filling methods. Accessories such as ink jet marking, labelers and gas flush systems can be integrated easily as well.
Pouch Designs are Endless
With the operations team satisfied, the marketer now has a playground of options to consider for bag design. During the bag conversion process, Schur is capable of producing a wide array of shapes and bag features with in-line seam welding techniques. Shapes can be created for promotional or functional purposes. Bag features such as handles, zippers, gussets and hanging slots are all added during the bag conversion process at Schur’s Chicago area facility and, when combined with vibrant colors offered by their 10 color printing process and a variety of bag materials, the design possibilities are endless.
This combination of package design and operational benefits from a high quality pre-made pouching system allows growth-minded small to mid-size companies the ability to offer packaging solutions that are comparable to or better than their larger competitors, but with a fraction of the capital investment. Large companies can benefit from this technology in their efforts to launch new products, run seasonal promotions or handle small volume SKUs without sacrificing plant capacity offered by their high outp ut packaging lines.
When you monetize each of the known and hidden costs associated with a hand packaging or rollstock operation and compare your next project to a pre-made pouch on a cost-per-filled bag basis, you might be pleasantly surprised. The pre-made pouches offer better marketing flexibility, more operating simplicity and give you a competitive cost-per filled bag.