What Are The Advantages & Disadvantages Of Using A Form Fill Seal Bag Machine?

What Are The Advantages & Disadvantages Of Using A Form Fill Seal Bag Machine? 

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Packaging products for sales and delivery is an important step in getting your goods to customers in good condition. Thankfully, there are many packaging machines you can choose from to get the job done.

Deciding which one best meets your needs involves more than considering what it will cost. You’ll need to balance each machine's pros and cons so that you pick the one most compatible with how you operate. 

Form Fill Seal Machines are a popular choice of packaging machinery. Yet, like all machines, they thrive more in certain circumstances than others. Make sure you’re aware of the below advantages and disadvantages of your potential investment before taking the plunge.

Reduced Costs

There are significant financial benefits to investing in a Form Fill Seal Bagging Machine. It’s versatile, making it ideal for packaging anything from granules and chemicals to grains and powders. 

Some machines have weighers to ensure that each packaged product is the right volume and size, down to a ±0.5% accuracy, to ensure consistency. Other machines have built-in coders to add colour logos, product information and barcodes to packages. These elements can be added at the end of the packaging process.

If you package many product sizes, you’ll save on raw material costs by using a single packaging roll, which is cheaper than pre-made bags. You also won’t have to deal with discarding any packaging trimming, as Form Fill Seal Bagging Machines create each bag to fit the exact specified volume of the product in question.

More Time Saving 

Form Fill Seal Bag Machines can use high-speed continuous or intermittent motion to shape, fill and seal products — often at once. 

Some machines (like the Velocity 2000) can fill up to 2000 bags an hour for bags weighing 2.5 kg, 1500 bags per hour for bags weighing 10kg and 1200 bags per hour for bags weighing 25 kg. It works continuously, with the seal at the top of a filled bag already forming the next bag’s bottom.

The more packages you fill per hour, the lower your capital costs become. This means that if you’re considering short production runs (for example, fewer than 1000 bags weighing 25 kg, per hour), it’s not going to save you money. It works best when you plan on running single bag sizes and weights for at least two hours at a time.

It won’t save you time if you’re packaging products that can’t contain trapped air, such as delicate or perishable items that could perish with oxygen exposure. Most Form Fill Seal Bag Machines cannot remove air from such packages quickly or easily.

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More Product Versatility

Form Fill Seal Machines have few limitations with what it can or can’t package. However, it can’t handle liquids and it also has product density limitations. It’s ill-suited and un-economical for packaging fine, aerated and light powders or moist products needing breathing space. 

Form Fill Seal Machines aren’t equipped to work with products needing heavy duty packaging or protection. They're also ill-suited to working with multi-ply materials (for example, a package with an inner foil lining and plastic outer layer).

As customers become more concerned with sustainability and their environmental footprint, you’ll need to consider if they’ll accept plastic packaging.

Form Fill Seal Machines work best with plastic film and can't work with paper. With many governments moving to ban single-use plastic packaging, you need to know what materials will and won't be permitted in future.

Reduced Labour Requirements

 

Form Fill Seal Bagging Machines can operate 24 hours a day, only requiring a simple, 10 minute packaging film change every six hours (this may differ depending on your operating throughput). Apart from this, the entire process is automated and can take place unattended. This frees up staff members you’d typically assign to monitor the process so that they can concentrate on other tasks.

This doesn’t mean that using the machine will require no training or operation. As you’ll make your own bags, your employees will need to be trained to set up and changeover the machine and its film.

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Easier Cleaning & Maintenance

In the past, less advanced Form Fill Seal Machines were cumbersome to install and time consuming to operate. These days, models are more compact, made of higher quality materials, have fewer moving parts and only require an annual service.

It means that you can have longer product runs and quickly clean the machine between runs. You won’t have to have separate machines for different bags sizes as one machine can now do the job of many.

Despite the above, Form Fill Seal Machines will require different forming tubes in order to produce different bag widths. However, switching from one forming tube to another is easy and quick, and can take place without equipment or tools. This will ensure your machines work quickly and cost effectively when you need it the most.

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Work With The Right Team

No matter how well-equipped your final choice of Form Fill Seal Machine is, it won't meet your needs or save you time and money unless you get to know it as well as the people who have manufactured it.

Having the machine’s manufacturers on site as you install the machine is critical to your success. They’ll ensure that your employees operate it correctly, and that it’s optimised to package your products in a cost-effective and efficient manner. 

Webster Griffin can offer you this type of support, and much more. We’re experts in matching form fill bag machines to clients in diverse areas of operation. Entrusting us to help you select the best machine for your needs will allow you to hit the ground running. Contact us today to find out how we can help. 

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Why Are So Many Businesses Investing In Form Fill Seal Bag Packaging Machines?

Why Are So Many Businesses Investing In Form Fill Seal Bag Packaging Machines?

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As a business owner, you’ll know that the right or wrong product packaging can make or break a sale. In the past packaging only listed product ingredients and serving recommendations.

However, times have changed. Over 80% of customers have tried a new product because its packaging caught their eye. 63% of customers have made a repeat purchase due to a product’s packaging and over 50% have switched brands due to a competitor’s packaging. 

The demand for packaging is also set to grow as the world’s population does, with the global middle class predicted to exceed 5 billion people in a decade. Consumers in this group are also expected to live for longer and have more buying power.

 

It’s only natural you’ll want to investigate the option of packaging your own products so that you can have total control over the process. For this, you’ll need to invest in the right machinery. Right now, Form Fill Seal (FFS) packaging machines are more popular than ever, and offer a synthesis between the best of film and packaging machinery developments. In fact, the FFS packaging machine market is set to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 6.82% in five year’s time. Here’s why these machines are so in demand and whether investing in one would benefit your business.

How Form Fill Seal Bag Packaging Machines Help Meet Online Sale Demand

Form Fill Seal (FFS) machines are packaging machines that form, fill and seal packaging on the same machine. A roll of material is shaped and sealed before the resulting packaging is filled, sealed and separated. This continuous roll of film allows you to automate your bagging operation reliably for hours with unattended operation before needing a reel change.

Recent findings by Mordor Intelligence reveal that FFS packaging machines are becoming the machines of choice for many businesses. Vertical and Horizontal Form Fill Seal machines are suited to creating flexible packaging and are quick and efficient in doing so. You can use these machines to package anything from foods and animal feed to chemicals and aggregates.

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How has Covid-19 Changed Things? 

The Covid-19 epidemic has helped drive demand for more flexible packaging options. More consumers are shopping online. With increased online sales comes a need for impact and puncture-resistant packaging that can handle being passed from person to person. Packages will also be travelling longer distances and in harsh circumstances in trucks or ships. In this situation, flexible packaging can be used as it can handle being dropped or falling without shattering or breaking.

This flexible packaging is often chosen over rigid packaging in these circumstances as it offers strength at a lower cost. Research shows that flexible packaging production uses less material and creates less waste. Compared to its rigid counterparts, it can weigh up to 70% less. This makes it easier and more affordable to transport and store. It can also be equipped with protection against moisture, dust and UV rays.

Due to Covid-19, customers are buying non-perishables in bulk to prevent repeat purchases. They’re also seeking out individual sized portions of other products. Flexible packaging is preferred by customers as it tends to come in a wider range of size options. And with hygiene and safety concerns, single use packaging will likely remain in demand until the pandemic has passed.

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How Form Fill Seal Bag Packaging Machines Help Businesses Lower Costs

As mentioned, the Coronavirus pandemic has boosted online product sales and the demand for flexible packaging made from light and strong films. The food and healthcare industries haven’t been as heavily impacted. However, end-use segments selling nonfoods and premium-goods have experienced reduced demand. Experts believe that this could lead to consumers seeking out lower prices for products in this category. This means that businesses will need to consider reducing their production costs to offset possible losses. 

Investing in a FFS packaging machine could help with this, depending on your desired throughput and what product you’re selling. When compared to using packaging products using pre-made bags from an external source, it will save you money, provided you fill thousands of bags at a rate of over 500 bags per hour, every year.

It does so automatically, eliminating the amount of operators required to be present on the bagging line, freeing them up for other more important tasks. When relying on manual labour, packaging errors can occur and your packaging rate can become considerably slower. Automating your packing line will dramatically boost your productivity, increase your packing rate and reduce human error.

The film used to package products in FFS packaging machines can be printed on before the bags are cut and sealed, further saving you time. Printing it in the machine lets you change product packaging types, batches or lengths without taking time to load a new film roll. It means that a single machine can be used to package an entire product range and offer you various pouch formats with just a few adjustments to the system. 

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Maintenance and Limitations 

FFS machines will also save you money and maintenance in the long term. They're easier to clean between batches and with fewer moving parts, they're less likely to break down easily or require constant maintenance. 

There are a few limitations to using FFS packaging machines. They're less suited to short production runs of one bag size (for example, less than 1000 bags weighing 25 kgs each). They’re poorly suited to packaging using paper or storing low density, aerated powders.

It also cannot easily remove trapped air from packages and while it can adjust for different lengths of packages, it’s challenging to adjust for width. Despite this, constant improvements to film sealing technology and powder handling techniques means this could change in the future.

Should Your Business Invest In A FFS Packaging Machine?

It’s apparent that many businesses are switching to using FFS packaging machines to save time and money and better meet the needs of their customers. It could be a solution that benefits your business. If you’re interested in getting one but still have questions or doubts, Webster Griffin can assist. We have over 45 years of experience in providing packaging machinery solutions for businesses big and small. We also don’t believe in offering a single solution to all businesses as we know that every business is unique in its needs. Contact us today so that we can help design a custom packaging solution that ticks all your boxes and leaves you feeling confident in your business’s future.

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What Factors Should I Consider When Buying A Form Fill Seal Bag Packing Machine?

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.

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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?

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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. 

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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.

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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. 
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  • 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.
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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 or Pre-made Pouches – Which Is Best For My Business?

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.

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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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Horizontal FFS - Bags made from roll of tubular film

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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?

 

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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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.

 

In Summary

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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