Freaky Fridays in packaging: Tiny filler-sealer

By Rick Lingle in Fillers on August 22, 2019

You can purchase your own heat sealer that runs on AA batteries and fits in your hand for just $39.95 plus shipping from The Grommet.

 

Tiny is big these days. Consider the popularity of programs including Tiny House, Big Living on HGTV, Little Couple on TLC and more. Reality shows are one thing, but now consider the reality of a tiny packaging machine.

I don’t mean simply compact, but really and truly tiny—it weighs less than a pound, you can hold it in your hand and it heat-seals tiny bags supplied in rollstock.

Does that get your packaging juices flowing? It did mine. I think the PillSuite filler-sealer  that’s designed to be totally practical and easy to use is also innovatively cool.

I came across it when opening an email from The Grommet, “an online marketplace and product discovery platform for consumer products from maker culture, inventors, entrepreneurs, and small businesses” founded in 2008. The email featured the PillSuite, which in industry lingo would be considered a semi-automatic filler-sealer. It comes with a separate 7-section plastic sorter with built-in funnel to conveniently accommodate a week’s worth of daily pills or more to be filled with each cycle. That plastic hybrid pill box/infeeder seems the equivalent of a hand-sized multihead filler (it can be seen in the image below).

Users can arrange daily, weekly or monthly doses by filling and heat-sealing those portions into air-tight unit packs that are easy to store, transport and use. It’s intended for “active seniors, travelers, caregivers, athletes, and commuters” who want to organize their medications, vitamins and supplement pills and capsules into a tidy and tiny “unit dose” bag.

The PillSuite been available at the site for about three years, though it was brand new to me. And unlike any other filler-sealers readers may be familiar with, this one comes complete with four AA batteries to power the diminutive 3.5-inch x 3-inch x 3.25-inch unit's heat sealer.

It’s not just the machine, it’s sold as a system that includes packaging materials that consist of two rolls of 200 pill bags; a 400-bag refill can be purchased for $8.95.

These aren’t just any tiny bags that will work, the PillSuite's bags demonstrate a thoughtful packaging development process with the user in mind including do-it-yourself personalization: the food-quality plastic bags are printed with a soy-ink panel for users to hand-print their own custom information.

A feature customers rave about

Another aspect that I pointed out as impressive to my contact from The Grommet: the bags have a convenient perforated opening strip.

It turns out that I was not alone in my assessment.

“That’s a feature our customers rave about!” enthuses Alessandra Hankinson, senior discovery associate, about the easy opening feature.

The bags are also on-trend with sustainable packaging initiatives. “This type of bag uses biodegradable materials made with a corn derivative," Hankinson points out. "The bags have been biodegradable since we first launched them in 2016, which I believe is shortly after the Pillsuite was invented. Customers can dispose of them in their composting bin.”

According to Hankinson, PillSuite was one of many hundreds of submissions made and accepted through the site’s Citizens Gallery, a portal at www.thegrommet.com where “any maker, entrepreneur or inventor can submit their product for consideration to us. We receive hundreds of product submissions every month and it was one that really stuck out to us and inspired further review to be considered.”

The products' reception and reviews have been overwhelmingly positive, says Hankinson.

“We’ve had reviews ranging from those with dexterity issues praising its ease of use for their weekly pill management to those who were just tired of their pill boxes spilling open in their purse! Our eco-conscious customers also comment on how happy they are that the sealable baggies are biodegradable, which was an aspect of the product that is important to us as well. We are glad that the PillSuite resonated with a diverse audience.”

What packaging professional wouldn’t want one? I’d expect they’d already have an advantage over an average Joe or Jane for a quickly successful startup.

For those interested, click here to view the PillSuite's product page at The Grommet.

Rick Lingle

Rick Lingle is senior technical editor of Packaging Digest. He’s been a packaging media journalist since 1985 specializing in food, beverage and plastic markets. He has a chemistry degree and has worked in food industry R&D for Standard Brands/Nabisco and the R.T. French Co. Reach him at [email protected] or 630-481-1426.

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