Know Your Automation: Case Former vs. Case Erector
Getting the Most Out of Your Packaging Automation
When Covid struck, the economy 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 case former vs. a case erector could mean you aren’t choosing the best automated packaging machinery for your processes. You might not even have known there was a difference between these two machines.
Wayne Automation is here to give you the rundown on the differences between these two machines and what to consider when deciding between them.
What Are Case Erectors?
A case erector is a machine that takes Knocked-Down Flats (KDFs) in a magazine at one end, and at the other end, it ejects folded cases, ready to be filled.
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 clients.
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.
- Maximum 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 budget or space for a massive box erector. The WCE Case Erector and WMCE Case Erector allow growing operations to get to 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 Application
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 the right choice for everyone.
What Are Case 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 case erectors 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 not seem major. However, for manufacturers utilizing tens and hundreds of thousands of cases monthly, this capability can prove a major money-saver.
Which Machine Is Right for You?
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 these machines, there are a few important factors to keep in mind.
The Cost of Paper
In general, a fully flat sheet is going to cost less than a KDF because there’s less manufacturing that goes into it. That little bit of savings can have a significant impact for a high-volume production environment.
Although KDFs are the most common 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-hand or right-hand cases before running flats through them—unless 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 major expense for businesses. Rent can run between 2% and 20% of your income, depending on your industry. Choosing fully flat, unglued case blanks help 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 simply isn’t an issue with unglued blanks because the box former does it in-process, which provides more control over package quality.
The absence of glue makes the paper manufacturer’s process simpler and eliminates these pre-glued issues, which brings down the cost per unit. This difference saves a couple cents per box. Over a couple hundred units, savings are barely noticeable. But 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 Case Former & Case Erector Needs
When it comes to a case former vs. case erector, why choose when you don’t have to? The WCF Wayne Case Former gives your business the ability to use both unglued blanks and KDFs on the same piece of equipment, saving you space, expense, and stress.
Like many models, this machine can handle a large range of case sizes, can 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
Automated packaging equipment from Wayne can bring your end-of-line process to the next level. Whatever your application, we have the experience 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.