Cardboard is key

Expert know-how for secondary packaging

"We take the packaging task seriously, because secondary packaging is an important part of the production and logistics process," says Robert Thuspass, summarising the importance of the carton in daily life. With expert knowledge from the first sales contact to the commissioning of the packaging machine at the customer's site, SOMIC fine-tunes every detail in the planning process. "We use a wide range of know-how in our project steps. Our know-how is based on decades of experience in the field of carton processing and packaging."

Understanding cartons accurately

First of all, the sales expert holds the first contact with the customer and clarifies the general conditions of the packaging requirement. "Often, the first task is to sort the variety of different packaging cartons and to standardise them as much as possible. This saves the customer a number of format parts in his later machine", know the sales experts at SOMIC.

Then the system engineering comes into operation, where fundamental technical questions and details for the offer are coordinated. In this phase, the carton concept becomes the key point. "The customer expresses his idea and gives us information about his strategy. This starts the development of the carton and the machine concept, because these two are directly related. One-piece cartons are realised on a tray or on a wraparound packaging machine, two-piece packaging can be realised with a tray/lid or a lid/tray packaging machine.

In addition, the desired product grouping, the required performance data and, of course, the requested layout of the carton packaging also influence the decision for the carton concept. In the case of a changeover from manual packaging to automation, a new, machine-compatible blank may also have to be developed to replace the manual folding cartons.

The customer's task is most important

"We need to understand the customer's requirements for the carton in order to collaborate on developing the optimal packaging solution" says Robert Thuspass. "The first thing we do is clarify whether it is a new development or a follow-up to an existing carton concept." In systems engineering, the basic machine concept is then first defined and the technical implementation is worked out. During the project phase, the project manager then gets deep into the details. Regardless of whether a carton is shown that is allready be processed automatically or a manual carton: based on the information from the sales phase, the final formats and cartons are defined in the project engineering. In detail these are:

  • Exact dimensions in the interaction between product and carton
  • Exact execution of the bending lines (e.g. cuts; punch-crease lines; etc.)
  • Gluing
  • Customer perforation and desired tear-open mechanism
  • Special requirements (e.g. slanting plate; carding flap; Western door; retainer in the U-cover; inserted DT-holder) 

Often, marketing specialists from the customer are also at the table in this step of the project before the machine is designed. "Two things always have to be brought together in these planning meetings: The design of the box - how it can play an optimal role in retail and customer contact - and the optimal function of the machine." First and foremost, it's always about efficiency in packaging, that much is clear: "We have to understand the carton and the customer's plan for getting their product to market during these discussions. Only then can we plan the optimal carton concept and achieve high machine efficiency in packaging."

In detailed planning, the carton material is the key factor

Project Manager Dominik Schmied gives an overview of the factors that are important for carton selection:

  • Should the products be packed in a one- or two-piece carton?
  • Which packaging concept is planned? Tray with or without cover or wraparound?
  • Will a carton material made of solid board or corrugated board be used?
  • In which segment will the carton be used? Does humidity or cold storage have to be considered in the carton selection?
  • Is the carton used as a display or transport carton?
  • If the carton is used as secondary packaging: What are the follow-up logistics? (Palletisation scheme; transport routes - transport trials may be advisable here).
  • Which varnish or design elements does the display carton contain?
  • How is the display carton opened at the point of sale? Which perforations or scores does the folding process have to take into account?
  • What machine output is to be achieved with the carton?

With this information, our project engineers then plan the detailed carton design, the gluing, the layout of the cartoning unit in the machine and the machine sequence or machine output. But what happens if this information is not completely available? "Then our plotter comes into play," promises Schmied. 


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