How Shrink Packaging Machines Work

Brand owners that want to bundle products for retail or foodservice distribution, or for sale in big-box stores, can get a front-row view of the process.

Kate Bertrand Connolly, Freelance Writer

April 21, 2022

A new 10-minute video of shrink-bundling machinery in action, from equipment supplier Polypack, showcases the versatility of the company’s shrink bundlers. The video depicts automatic collating and bundling of 10 different types of products, with some of the vignettes extending from product infeed through to cartoning.

The 10 applications include a variety of primary package structures and products: tubes (a skin-care product), paperboard cartons (a grocery item), squat plastic tubs (sour cream), round bottles (cleaning solutions), aluminum cans (beer), jars (cold cream), pouches (ground coffee), and custom-shaped bottles (drinkable yogurt, chocolate milk, and a personal-care product).

The packaging flow is generally the same across applications, but details vary. In many instances, pick-and-place robots move incoming products — filled primary packages — onto shrink film or a corrugated pad. A top pad may be added after a second layer of product is added. Then comes wrapping and shrinking.

For products requiring shrink wrap with no gaps, a group of products is conveyed through a sleeve of film that is then cut and sealed to create separate bundles. These bundles are then conveyed through the shrink tunnel.

To create trays of shrink-bundled products with openings in the film on either side, the equipment automatically drapes film around each bundle prior to its entrance into the shrink tunnel.

Related:When and How Should You Automate Case Packing?

Various bundle configurations are possible with the equipment, ranging from a shrink-wrapped bundle of three tubes to a 12-pack of beer cans with five alternating rows of two and three cans each.

One of the applications shows how a variety pack is bundled: A multilane conveyor pulls together groups of three different cleaning products, which are all in the same round bottle. The equipment turns each bottle so its front label is facing forward. Then each bundle receives its film wrap and continues through the shrink tunnel.

With videos like this, who needs “How It’s Made”?

About the Author(s)

Kate Bertrand Connolly

Freelance Writer

Kate Bertrand Connolly has been covering innovations, trends, and technologies in packaging, branding, and business since 1981.

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