Case equipment is used to erect, pack, seal, or unpack cases of products. In most instances, case equipment is used to form cardboard boxes; however, corrugated materials and plastics formers are also available. Types of case equipment include case erectors, case cartoners, case packers, case sealers, and unpackers.
Case erectors and case cartoners are case equipment which automatically forms corrugated cases. A stack of corrugated blanks are knocked down and placed into the machine. The blanks are pulled out of the machine one-by-one and formed into cases. The newly formed cases are sealed at the bottom with tape or glue. A case packer is a type of case equipment used to automatically erect, pack, close, and seal cases or trays. Case packers can be used pneumatically, mechanically, or robotically with a pick-and-place process. An unpacker is used to simply unpack a case. Case sealers are case equipment that seals the top or bottom of a case with tape or glue. Typically, the minor corrugated flaps are kicked and plowed closed as the cases are transferred. As the cases enter the compression section, the major flaps of the carton are closed and a hot-melt adhesive is applied.
Once the type of case equipment is chosen, it is important to consider the types of casing that would be most beneficial for the application. Common case styles include regular slotted cases, half-slotted cases, trays, bliss-style cases, and wrap-arounds. Regular slotted cases (RSC) can use printer / slotter equipment that seals the top, bottom, side, or end flaps. The half-slotted design (HSC) is similar except that the printer / slotter doesn’t seal the cases. Trays are corrugated containers that are formed from a flat bank with sides that are folded and secured with glue or staples. Bliss-style cases are formed from a U-shaped body and glued in end panels. When dealing with a wrap-around container the flute direction may be parallel to the length and the width, this may result in a “horizontal corrugation box”.
The final selection to be made when using case equipment is the method of sealing. Some cases are sealed with hot melt-glue or tape. Hot-melt glue forms a permanent bond that is generally unaffected by temperature, lighting, or humidity. It also adapts well to high-speed production packaging lines. Sealing with tape offers two options, water-activated and pressure-sensitive. Water-activated tape forms a durable bond when water or adhesive penetrates the corrugated board. This tape works well with all environments and it not affected by weather or sanitary conditions. Pressure-sensitive tape is portable, transparent, and works well in automatic case sealers.
Tucking is the simplest form of sealing used by case equipment. If a carton will be tucked, the case will have built in flaps and slots. During sealing, the ends of the carton are tucked into the existing flaps to create an easily deconstructable carton. Case equipment that uses other sealing technologies is also available.