What Factors Should I Consider When Buying A Form Fill Seal Bag Packing Machine?
Your business needs packaging equipment and has decided on a Form Fill Seal (FFS) machine. By now, you’ve established that it can help you package more products in fewer shifts and can cut costs. It’s also more affordable than using pre-made bags and suits what you’re trying to package.
Now that you know what you want, it’s time to narrow down exactly what you're looking for in your machine. While price is the most obvious deciding factor, it shouldn’t be the only one. No two FFS machines are the same, so here's what you need to consider before making this investment.
Client Considerations: Vertical Or Tubular?
While each machine will boast different features, there are two FFS machine types. Depending on your client’s needs, you'll need to choose between Vertical FFS (VFFS) machine — where bags are made from a flat sheet of film as it’s unwound from the reel; or a Tubular FFS (TFFS) machine — where bags are made/formed from a tube of film as it’s unwound from the reel.
VFFS machines can fill and seal solid and liquid products on an automated assembly line. It offers faster production and bagging times, lower running costs and less maintenance. It's suited to packaging lightweight, loose, or challenging to handle products.
TFFS machines can package bulk products weighing up to 45 kgs into open mouth plastic or paper bags. As it uses tubular film it doesn’t need side seams so each package can get formed, filled and sealed at once. It uses less film, requires minimal sealing and as it can handle width and size variations, it has better turnaround and changeover times compared to VFFS machines.
VFFS machines can packaging products from a variety of industries, but as TFFS machines eliminate seams, they’re popular for packaging fine, powdery or sticky products where contamination is a concern.
How Much Will It Cost?
Machine Space & Safety
The amount of space available to you and the safety of the operating machine you choose are related. Pick a machine that’s too big or small and you'll create the right environment for a disaster.
You need enough space to operate your machine, for employees to work around it and for technicians to maintain it. The machine’s layout matters. For example, inline machines need more floor space as they operate linearly. Rotary machines operate in a circle so they take up less space and maximise ergonomics and efficiency. Some machines might need extra assembly and installation space too.
Your machine might need a safety zone where you keep one part of the machine on standby while another operates. Safe zones like this can reduce operating errors and packaging wastage.
Make sure that you’re up to date with your country and industry's occupational health and safety requirements. You’ll also need to keep up to date with any training required for your employees to operate the machine safely. For example, when you purchase a FFS machine from Webster Griffin it will come with a CE Mark, which means that it has been built and operates in accordance with European Union’s product and legal requirements.
We recommend working with an equipment supplier to guide your floor planning and training before you buy the machine. Webster Griffin will allocate a dedicated service engineer to your business once you purchase a FFS machine. They will remain on site to train your staff members and will only leave when you’re confident your employees can operate the machines without help.
Look For Relevant Features
Today's FFS machines come with dozens of performance enhancing features. Knowing which ones will benefit you (and what you can do without) will narrow down your selection. Here are a few features you'll encounter often.
Performance Enhancing Features
- Machine frame construction: your machine's construction impacts its performance and longevity. Welded frames are better for packaging food as it has no bolts to attract product spillage and bacteria. Stainless steel frames cost more but won't rust or chip in time, unlike carbon steel epoxy or powder painted ones.
- Film tracking: you need to have the correct tension when loading certain types of film rolls. Manual or automatic tracking keeps this film in the correct position so it's easy to fill and seal. Tracking can take place using an automated sensor or manual wheel. Automatic tracking is better if product and packaging waste is a concern, as it detects problems faster than the human eye can.
- Acceptable noise levels: Your machine's noisiness ties into the size of your space and its location. If you're close to residential areas you might need to adhere to certain operating times or noise levels. To predict what you will deal with (and if your employees will need protection) ask the machine manufacturer for a demonstration.
- Changeover times: switching between bag types or sizes can take time if you need to reconfigure your machine. You'll need to know the average changeover time to expect and if you'll need special tools or training to do it.
- Ease of controls: Some machines have both a programmable logic controller and human machine interface. The former controls the machine's operations while the latter lets you input commands. If you'll be making adjustments during production, pay attention to the human machine interface.
- Sealing systems: your machine's jaws seal packages after filling using heat, pressure or both. This jaw should consist of one part and not multiple pieces working together. Fewer moving parts make it harder to consistently apply heat and pressure.
- Servo driven mechanisms: your machine's servo driver precisely controls its components. This creates a closed loop system that constantly generates feedback, allowing the machine to adjust itself without help. Simple pneumatic mechanisms exist that do this, but a servo driven mechanism will provide more control and accuracy.
Seeing Is Believing
Your FFS machine will form an integral part of your product packaging process and should never be rushed. Take your time and never hesitate to ask as many questions as you see fit. If possible, ask to see the machine in action so you can visualise how it will work once you take ownership of it.
Who you choose to buy it from will make all the difference in your experience. Traditionally you’d likely be relying heavily on the machine manufacturer in your first few weeks of using it. You’ll want to choose one who’s willing to work alongside you for this purpose. When you purchase a Machine with Webster Griffin, one of our service engineers will work with your operating team full time until they’re confident that they can operate and maintain your FFS machine with minimum assistance.
As packaging machinery specialists, Webster Griffin can assist. We have decades of experience in supplying a wide range of businesses with FFS machinery that meets their needs and budget, and you can see some of our successful case studies here. No matter how complex your need might be, we can talk you through the process until you’re happy with what we propose. Contact us today to get started.
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Form Fill Seal Machines