Canadian Packaging

Handle With Care


October 27, 2008
by Canadian Packaging Staff

Until fairly recently, bag handling with a vacuum system and suction cups has proven to be a very challenging task—often resulting in regular errors and machine stoppages.

Whether top-loading or opening a bag, getting a strong, solid grip on these unique packages is often an issue. Faced with varying sizes, shapes and materials, it is no wonder that packaged goods manufacturers can often get frustrated with the systems handling their bags.

As the packaged consumer goods industry continues to evolve to meet the constantly growing demand for eye-catching products, both OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) and packaging machine-builders are becoming frequently faced with handling innovative and “out-of-the-box” packages that must be transported down the production line.

It is not uncommon today to see snack-foods, frozen-treats, and even liquid products like milk to be packaged in small bags and pouches.

HELPING HAND
While this may look like a serious challenge, it is important for the manufacturers of these products to know that there are innovative solutions out there to make these products as easy to handle on packaging lines as any other by addressing their unique top-loading and bag-opening application requirements.

Arguably, the most common top-loading challenge on production lines involves the picking and placing bags of different sizes and materials—often complicated by dealing with potentially fragile, liquid or viscous contents.

In this context, it is imperative to employ a flexible gripping system—especially if there are multiple products being handled on the same line.

Opening a bag with suction is a common requirement on countless production lines, with the aforementioned challenges of size, shape and material sometimes complicated further by the thickness of the bag.

It is vitally important to ensure a strong-enough grip—to prevent frozen items from being damaged, or the liquid contents being spilled—when pulling and holding apart the sides of a bag during the top-loading operation.

To make this all happen, packaging line operators should seriously consider the use of a powerful, high-flow vacuum solution to facilitate the quick and secure grip of all bagged products.

For packaging machine designers serving the consumer goods industry, using such optimized vacuum system designs can significantly improve the overall productivity of the manufacturing process—by placing high-power vacuum directly at the point where suction is required—with a decentralized system.