Case Formers vs. Case Erectors: Which One Is Right for You?

Case Formers vs. Case Erectors: Which One Is Right for You?

Know the Difference Between These Machines to Make Your Best Choice

The Covid-19 pandemic rapidly accelerated an already growing trend away from brick-and-mortar stores and towards e-commerce and delivery. This required businesses to adapt their end-of-line processes to meet demand. As a result, the packaging automation industry has grown and continues to grow faster than ever. In fact, the next half-decade alone is projected to see hundreds of millions of dollars in growth.

Packaging automation has major benefits for both suppliers and customers. However, many companies are still unaware of the true range of options for packaging automation. Not knowing the differences between a box former vs. a box erector could mean you aren’t choosing the best automated packaging machinery for your process. You might not even have known there was a difference between these two machines.

Wayne Automation is here to explain the differences, and let you know what to consider when deciding between them.

What Are Case Erectors (or Box Erectors)?

Wayne Automation’s WCE Case Erector machine.A case erector is a machine that takes Knocked-Down Flats (KDFs). These are inserted in a magazine at one end, folded into cases, and ejected at the other end for filling.

Different applications will place different demands on the machine, whether that be speed, floorspace, or specialty box types. These different applications and demands are why Wayne Automation case erectors come in eight distinct models to suit the needs of our customers.

These eight models fit into five categories of specialization:

  • Maximum speed. Running nearly twice as fast as any other model, our VCE Case Erector is designed for applications where high speed with absolute reliability is the primary consideration.
  • Unparalleled versatility. Accommodating the widest range of box types and sealing methods, the MOD B Series Case Erector is for suppliers that need one machine to handle any packaging run.
  • Compact footprint. Smaller businesses can’t always spare the money or space for a massive box erector. The WCE Case Erector and WMCE Case Erector allow growing operations to reach the next level with small-footprint automation.
  • Fully Automatic Changeover. For manufacturers that need to constantly shift between lines, the WLRV-CE Automatic Case Erector eliminates the need for operator interference, increasing efficiency.
  • Specialty Applications. Oversize cases won’t work in conventional automatic case erectors. Alternatively, if your line will only be handling tablock cases, a multifunctional machine may not be efficient for your needs. Wayne’s specialty machines ensure that powerful automation is accessible for everyone.

What Are Case Formers (or Box Formers)?

Case formers are similar to case erectors in that the final result is the same–a box ready for loading.

However, a case former, sometimes called a box former, is different from a case erector in that they are able to form finished boxes from fully flat blanks instead of a KDF. This machine utilizes unglued boxes instead of KDFs.

The distinction may seem minor, but this capability can prove a major money-saver. For manufacturers that utilize tens or hundreds of thousands of cases monthly the few cents difference between a blank and a KDF add up quickly.

Which Machine Is Right for You?

Wayne Automation’s MOD B Case Erector machine.What should you consider when deciding between a case forming machine and a case erector machine? Now that you know the differences and similarities between the two, there are a few important factors to keep in mind.

The Cost of Paper

In general, a fully flat sheet will cost less than a KDF because it requires less manufacturing. That little bit of savings can have a significant impact on a high-volume production environment.

Although KDFs are the industry standard, they aren’t without drawbacks. For example, they cost more per unit because manufacturers pre-glue their joints. They also come in two collapse directions, or “hands,” so you must ensure your carton assembly equipment is properly set for left- or right-hand cases before running flats through them. However, that is not an issue if you’re using Wayne’s WLRV-CE, with its reliable, fully automatic changeover between the two.

The Size of the Paper

Building space is a significant expense for businesses. Rent can be between 2% and 20% of income, depending on your industry. Choosing fully flat, unglued case blanks helps you make the most of every inch.

This is because while a fully flat sheet is about twice the size of a KDF footprint-wise, you can stack fully flat sheets much higher because they are thinner. Depending on your particular layout, you could save a lot of warehouse space.

Potential Issues With Pre-Glued Cases

Standard case erectors only work with pre-glued KDF boxes, while case formers eliminate the problems that can come with these boxes.

For example, pre-glued KDFs can result in glue joint variability, which can cause boxes to be irregular when assembled, leading to downtime and frustration. Glue joint variability isn’t an issue with unglued blanks because the box former does it in-process, providing more control over package quality.

The absence of glue simplifies the paper manufacturer’s process, and eliminates these pre-glued issues. This difference saves a couple cents per box, and over a couple hundred units the savings are barely noticeable. However, once you start working in five- and six-digit volumes, the value can be tens of thousands of dollars.

Granted, unglued blanks have their disadvantages. For example, you can’t seal their bottoms with tape. They’re also typically large and can overhang standard 48 x 40 pallets, making them awkward to maneuver.

One Machine for Your Box Former & Box Erector Needs

Wayne Automation’s WMCE Case Erector machine.When it comes to a box former vs. a box erector, why choose when you can have both? The WCF Wayne Case Former allows your business to use unglued blanks and KDFs on the same piece of equipment, saving you space, money, and stress.

Like many models, this machine can handle a wide range of case sizes, erect Regular Slotted Cartons (RSC) and Half-Slotted Cartons (HSC) from KDFs, and comes with Wayne’s trademark tool-free changeover.

It also does not require manual stacking of flats into the machine. Instead, a full stack can go into the magazine straight off the truck, and it discharges cases vertically for minimal handling.

Make the Difference in Your Process

Wayne’s automated packaging equipment can take your end-of-line process to the next level. Whatever your application, we have the equipment and expertise to help you stay ahead of the curve, improve your productivity, and set your business up for success.

Download your free copy of The Ultimate Guide to Case Erectors and learn how these machines can make your packaging processes more efficient. Find out more about how our products can work for your custom manufacturing process, and contact us today.

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