Buying a vertical form-fill-seal machine for the first time can be a typically daunting undertaking. Each manufacturer offers its own flavor of the technology and even seemingly the comparable machines from the very different manufacturers can vary widely in the price. Use the following ten tips to help guide the purchasing process to a successful conclusion.

Tip 1: Align the particular machine design to the highest volume package

Many of the first time buyers purchase a vertical form-fill-seal machine large enough to the package all of their bags from the widest on down to the narrowest. On the surface this makes complete sense – buy one machine and then automate the entire operation. The problem with this particular approach is that wider the bag the bigger the form-fill-seal machine and the more expensive it becomes. Furthermore, the large machines tend to run the wider bags with complete finest, but don’t perform as well filling the narrower ones.
A more effective strategy for the buying the first machine is to size the machine to the width of the highest volume bags – the size that most needs the automation. That machine will be optimized for the bread and the butter package size and will run the fastest, use the least material and be the most cost effective to operate. Perhaps to continue with the semi-automatic operations for the other sized bags or else consider a second machine down the road. Refrain from the designating one machine to be a ‘jack of all trades’ because it will end up becoming a master of none. That vertical form-fill-seal machine simply won’t live up to the expectations and will be a potential headache for years.

Tip 2: Work with a professional that understands the application

There is both an art and a particular science to manufacturing a machine that will run for years without any issues. Work with a manufacturer with a track record of the success in similar if not identical application in terms of the product and film type. That manufacturer knows what it takes to be successful in that application.

Tip 3: Be open to the packaging suggestions

Some of the customers come to the professionals and say, we want to run this identical bag. The Matrix advises the customers to stay open to the alternatives. A slightly different length, width or the film type may run with much better efficiency than the original on a high-speed automated machine. This really doesn’t mean that the original is always the discarded one. It is not. Pone should simply be open to discussing the options. Furthermore, expect the manufacturer to provide the sample bags. Work with the manufacturer on any needed improvements.

Tip 4: The manufacturer should be able to recommend a number of film suppliers too

Film companies are experts in the films. They invest in the latest manufacturing technology to reduce the cost and also improve the performance. The machine OEM should have the experience working with the best film manufacturers and also make the recommendations to its customers on the ones best suited to an application. Do not buy the film from the form-film-seal OEM because it is just simply a revenue generator and not in the best interest of the customer.

Tip 5: The machine OEM should provide the flexibility in fillers

The filler is a specialized machine which collects the project and then is synchronized to the meter product into the form-fill-seal machine. The Fillers are optimized for the type of the product being packaged fully. Just like the film companies being expert in what they d or else filler companies are expert in the different designs for the various products. During the life of one form-fill-seal machine there may be two, three, four or else more fillers attached to the machine because of changing product mixes.

Tip 6: The Toeless changeover and the other key operation strategies

Being able to effectively run a number of bag sizes – then similar widths and various lengths on one machine gives the organization greater flexibility. A fast way to the “changeover” the machines between the different bag sizes is to have the operator switch between the different size filling tubes without the need of screw drivers, wrenches and other tools. This is called the tools changeover and it is very important for the organization because it is effective, fast, and does not require maintenance personnel to be taken away from more urgent tasks to swap a part.

Tip 7: Beware of the 360-degree timing

For the enfolding past generation, the norm in the form-fill-seal machines has been the 360-degree timing. As the film is pulled down, the formed, filled, and the sealed timing cams revolve one whole revolution – 360 degrees.

Tip 8: The base price should include the stainless steel construction, automatic web guide control and the registration capability.

Some of the OEMs keep the base price of the machines low by leaving out the essential features. Without of those features, the machine is no bargain at all.

Tip 9: Ask manufacturer for the average yearly operating cost

A number of parts on the machine such as the knives, ware strips and cartridge heaters are considered the consumable because they will need to be the replacement on a regular basis. Other parts like the knife cylinders that would operate at the warm temperatures need to be replaced more frequently than other components, but not as often as the consumables. On-going consumables and the replacement part costs should be considered in a purchasing decision.

Tip 10: Keep it very simple

The Complexity and the reliability tend to be at the odds. Ask the OEM for its design strategy.

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