You’re ready to purchase a new machine for your facility. You’ve contacted a few different manufacturers for more information, but instead of providing answers, they bombard you with question after question of their own. “What’s your budget?” “What kind of products do you need to package?” “Tell us about your facility.”
Why? Because these questions are essential to finding the right piece of equipment that suits your needs. Machines aren’t one-size-fits-all, and choosing a machine that isn’t compatible with your products, materials, or facility could spell disaster. Here are some questions to ask when shopping for packaging machinery. Be prepared to answer these questions during your search.
Some businesses have an unlimited budget. Others operate on a shoestring budget. Some can wait months for their new machine to arrive. Others need it ASAP. Before you begin your search for a new piece of machinery, it’s important to iron out a few basic details.
Your budget is one of these crucial details. Packaging machinery can cost anywhere from a few thousand dollars to millions of dollars. A turntable stretch wrapper costs, on average, $9,500 to $17,000 dollars. An automated guided vehicle (AGV) ranges from $100,000 to $150,000 dollars. Case packers are normally priced between $100,000 and $500,000 dollars.
Used machines can cost less. However, if your budget allows, buying new is generally better. Used machines are more prone to breaking down and have a much shorter lifespan than new machines. They also come with substantially fewer quality of life (QOL) features. Before you shop, identify the average cost of the machine you need and set your budget accordingly.
Another important detail to consider is your timeline. When do you need your new machine up and running by? Do you need it within the week or can you wait? If you need it quickly, shop with local manufacturers or manufacturers that promise quick delivery and assembly.
The size, shape, and weight of your products or pallets can heavily influence what kind of machine is right for you. Stretch wrapping machines, for example, come in a variety of types. Turntable wrappers can handle most regular-shaped and average-sized loads. Rotary arm wrappers are ideal for loads that are too heavy or too light for turntable wrappers. Horizontal stretch wrappers are used to wrap items that are “longer” than normal, such as lumber, doors, windows, carpets, and textiles.
The kind of materials you use (film, containers, etc.) also makes a difference. Machines aren’t guaranteed to be compatible with your preferred choice of materials. Unless you’re willing to change the kind of materials you use, search for machines that work with your current material choices.
Choosing a machine that’s compatible with your facility is essential. If a machine is too heavy, too tall, or incompatible with your facility’s electrical source, you won’t be able to use it.
The first question you should ask is, “How much weight can the floor support?” Most floors are designed to support a minimum of 40-50 pounds per square foot. Make sure your floor can support the weight of the machine you buy. If the floor is put under too much pressure, it can crack or even collapse. Don’t forget that other machines in the vicinity, pallets and boxes, and foot traffic also contribute to pounds per square foot.
Another question you should ask is “How much space will this machine take up?” Every machine will take up a certain amount of floor space. Ensure you have enough room in your facility for a machine before you purchase.
One measurement that’s commonly overlooked is the height of a machine. If your facility has a tall ceiling, height shouldn’t be much of a problem, but if your facility has a short ceiling, remember to check the height of any machines you’re considering. If a machine is too tall, it might not fit inside your facility.
Finally, make sure that the machine you purchase is compatible with your facility’s energy source and electrical lines. A lot of machines from overseas are built with different components than machines bought domestically.
If the machine you purchase isn’t compatible with your facility’s power source, you have three options: purchasing a different machine, purchasing expensive adapters, or completely reworking your facility’s electrical. Talk about expensive!
Maintenance and Repair
As long as you remember to perform routine preventative maintenance, machines are generally reliable. But sometimes, machines can be unpredictable and break down unexpectedly and inexplicably.
When repairs need to be made, they need to be made fast in order to prevent extended downtime and productivity loss. One question to ask when shopping for packaging machinery is how hard it is to acquire parts for the machine. How accessible are they? How long do they take to manufacture? How long do you have to wait for delivery?
Long lead times can result in extended downtime. In general, older machines and machines from overseas are the hardest to quickly find and acquire parts for. To keep downtime to a minimum, purchase from a manufacturer that can produce and ship parts quickly. Your machine manufacturer should also offer:
- Live technical support
- Maintenance and installation services
- Same-day repairs for emergencies
- Options for retrofitting and upgrades
The sooner your machines are repaired, the sooner you can resume production. Purchasing from a reliable local manufacturer ensures you get the most use out of your machine as possible.
There are a lot of different manufacturers to choose from. What kind of qualities should you look for in a packaging machinery company? Reputation is one. Take a look at their online reviews to see if customers rate them highly or poorly. As mentioned previously, you also want to look for a manufacturer that provides ample support in the event your machine breaks down or malfunctions.
Finally, look for a manufacturer that offers a wide range of high-quality machines. Thoroughly read through the manual of any machine you’re considering to see what kind of QOL features they come equipped with.
Robopac USA is the world’s largest secondary packaging equipment company and the #1 place to find state-of-the-art, high-tech machinery for your facility. We have case packer machines to help speed up the packing process, along with other machines that can stretch wrap, pack, palletize, erect, and seal products. Shop with us today or contact us to learn more about our products and services.