Form Fill Seal or Pre-made Pouches —                    Which Is Best For My Business?

 

Product packaging is the final step of your business’s manufacturing process. Executed correctly, it will keep your product intact and preserve its quality as it makes its way to the customer. Pick the wrong processes or machinery and you could blow your budget and get set back days in time and labour.

Making sure your products are well packaged goes beyond picking the right packaging material and branding. Your chosen packaging process must also align with your budget, capabilities and needs.

Product manufacturers have two packaging process options: form fill seal machines (which create packages from a material roll before filling and sealing it) or pre-made sack packaging machines (which fills and seal products in pre-made pouches). Here’s what factors you need to consider before making your final decision.

FFS Render 2
Vertical FFS Machine
wagg (FFS Landing - Compacta slider)

How Much Time & Flexibility Do You Have?

Form fill seal machines are faster than pre-made sack packaging machines and can process up to 100 bags an hour. As it's automated it processes higher volumes at higher speeds. It works best with simple packaged products as increased speeds can sacrifice its flexibility. Flexibility is important in today’s market as customers want to choose between single-serve, multi-pack and family options as well as different fitment types and placements.

Form fill seal machines might not save you time if you undertake short production runs with one bag size or often scale your production up or down. If you fill different shapes and styles of bags every day, a pre-made pouch packaging machine would be more suitable. You'll need to balance your need for different pack sizes with your time requirements.

When it comes to flexibility, don't forget how easy the machine is to navigate and work with. For example, vertical form-fill-seal machines take up less space, so are preferable when operating space is tight. You could also invest in more than one machine if space allows it.

What Are Your Cost & Size Requirements?

Form fill seal machines are costlier to invest in than pre-made sack packaging machines. It makes up for its cost by eliminating ongoing labour costs and packaging more products in a single run. 

For this investment to make sense for your business, you’ll need to package thousands of bags a day.

By using a single roll stock of film to create more than one type of bag, you won’t need to order different bag types. You can also stop the production of one bag if needed, without getting left with bags you can't use. It’s estimated you can save up to 50% on material costs this way. Form fill seal machines will need some form of labour, as you’ll need an operator to change each roll once it’s depleted. 

The smaller your business is, the more important costing will be to your bottom line. You might want to start with pre-made pouches and graduate to form fill seal packaging as your production grows. You also won't need to undertake packaging quality checks as instead of manufacturing your own, you’ll use pre-made pouches from a supplier who’ll do these checks for you.

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Vertical FFS - Bags made from roll of flat sheet film

Vertical FFS

Horizontal FFS - Bags made from roll of tubular film

Horizontal FFS

What Are Your Cost & Size Requirements?

While form fill sealing machines package most products and work with most materials, there are exceptions. It can't work with multilayered materials or paper, hessian, jute and woven polypropylene. It also isn’t suited to packaging low density, fine and aerated powders or products requiring 100% airtight packaging. These products will need more packaging time, making their production costs unfeasible.

If you're working with products that sweat, develop mould or swell, you might prefer pre-made pouches. These tend to come in a wider range of options including zippered, stand-up or sealed form and foil, metal or clear material finishes.

As you can calibrate both machines to minimise waste, you won't end up with wasted packaging materials with either option.

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What Kind Of Product Will You Be Dealing With?

& Size Requirements?

 

While form fill sealing machines package most products and work with most materials, there are exceptions. It can't work with multilayered materials or paper, hessian, jute and woven polypropylene. It also isn’t suited to packaging low density, fine and aerated powders or products requiring 100% airtight packaging. These products will need more packaging time, making their production costs unfeasible.

If you're working with products that sweat, develop mould or swell, you might prefer pre-made pouches. These tend to come in a wider range of options including zippered, stand-up or sealed form and foil, metal or clear material finishes.

As you can calibrate both machines to minimise waste, you won't end up with wasted packaging materials with either option.

Which Products can be packed with FFS
Which Product can be bagged with FFS 2

Before You Make Your Final Choice

As with many business decisions, there's no one-size-fits-all answer to the best packaging machinery for your needs. You'll need to consider the above factors, as well as the below elements (which will be unique to your proposed packaging project):

  • Your marketing requirements. Based on your branding, you might need to select a bag in a specific style or with a specific amount of advertising space.
  • Your consumer base requirements. You’ll need to consider what your current and future consumer base wants and needs. Consider aspects such as portability, convenience, and whether an option is resealable or easy to open.
  • Your logistical requirements. The weight and shape of your packaged products will impact your transport and shipping costs. It will also impact how easy and efficient it will be to pack and palletize your products. 
  • Your staffing requirements. Are you looking for a machine to complement your current staff’s technical abilities? Alternately, will you invest in new machinery and new and higher-paid staff to operate it? Make sure that the experience of your machine operators, production staff and maintenance crew grows with your budget.

No two businesses are alike, and a packaging option that suits one might not suit another. Whether you’ll enjoy a form fill seal machine or pre-made pouch packaging machine will depend on your needs.

For pure cost-saving and increased production speeds, form fill machines come out on top. If you produce specific products or need specialised packaging materials, pre-made pouch packaging machines might be more suitable.

Make sure that you know what your product requires and what customers need from your packaging before you decide. Whatever you go with, Webster Griffin can assist. We’re specialists in advising businesses to the right type of packaging machinery for their needs. We manufacture and supply both form fill sealing machines and pre-made pouch packaging machines in sectors ranging from food and beverages to fast-moving consumer goods. With close to half a century of experience in the field, few businesses are as well equipped to assist you as we are. Contact us today to get started.

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