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Semi-Automatic Case Formers: Breaking the Law of Diminishing Returns

corrugated boxes
By: Mike Rann, Equipment Specialist


Case Sealer 2
Case Sealer 1
Case Former 1
Case Sealer 2

What happens when your packaging process enters what economists call the Law of Diminishing Returns? This economic law states, per Google search, there is a point at which the level of profits or benefits gained is less than the amount of money or energy invested.

In other words, your business has grown from a few boxes a day to several hundred, or you are running several thousand boxes per day and it’s time to add a new line. However, the plant is not ready to expand, or cannot due to current zoning, corporate management’s overall business strategy, or it’s just not feasible. Thus, the remedy to the problem must have a small footprint and provide a quick pay-back (under 12 months preferably but no more than 18). You want to do more with less – meaning you need less operators but get more product out the door.

A quick and reliable solution is a semi-automatic case former (aka semi-auto case erector). These machines come in two models: a pneumatic case former and a combo unit of case former and auto case sealer. The first one uses pneumatics to fold and hold all four bottom flaps so the operator can pack directly into the box. Once the case is packed, the operator either folds the top flaps and pushes the box into the case sealer for top and bottom taping or the operator pushes the box into a fully-auto case sealer that automatically folds the top 4 flaps and applies tape to the top and bottom of the box.

The second unit is a combination of the case former and fully-auto case sealer. In this instance the operator also opens the box and, instead of placing the case into a cavity that requires air to fold the box, this equipment uses a device that looks similar to an ironing board or an i-beam/t-rail. The operator will allow the t-rail to fold the bottom leading minor flap while folding the bottom trailing flap. The two bottom major flaps overhang the i-beam. The width of the t-rail is just an inch under the minimum box’s case width. This allows the box to hang over the rail with the minor flaps closed for packing. After the case is packed, the operator folds the top rear minor flap and pushes the box into the extended side belts that drives the case into the top plow folding the three remaining top flaps while the bottom guides fold the bottom major flaps allowing tape to be applied to the top and bottom of the case.

The benefit of each unit is both have a small footprint and can be easily added to a new or existing conveyor line. The first case former described requires air and a case sealer. It’s footprint is around 42” in length and connected with a standard semi-automatic case sealer or taper the total footprint is just over 80”. When combing the case former with a fully-auto case sealer the footprint is just over 100”. The second case former & sealer combo previously mentioned is just under 80” in length.  It does not require clean pneumatic air. It is purely mechanical.

As for the price of each case former, it all depends if you already have a case sealer. If you already have a taper, then the first case former is the least expensive of the two. If not, then the combo case former & sealer is less than an individual case former and sealer.  The payback on each case former is under 12 months with a minimum 500 boxes per day.

Now the question you must ask yourself, are you ready to break the law? (The Law of Diminishing Returns that is…) If so, Piedmont National Corporation is ready to be your accomplice. Learn more about case formers here.




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