A guide to buying a case erector: Direct sale, agency and distributor

When it’s time to invest in a case erector or case sealer, the sales process can take one of three channels.

Going direct is simply approaching your chosen company directly. Or, if your team could use the expertise of someone who knows their way around the industry, working with a packaging equipment agency or an equipment distributor can streamline and simplify the process. In the following, we’ll outline how each of these sales channels works so your team can evaluate the best purchasing process for your company.

Buying a case erector direct from OEM

One way to buy a case erector or case sealer is through the direct channel, and it’s as straightforward as it sounds. You contact the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) and consult with their knowledgeable team to identify the right equipment for your line.

  • Once the sale is finalized, you continue to work directly with the OEM to have the machine serviced and repaired. The advantage here is the equipment is under warranty, and is serviced and repaired by technicians who are certified in the machine’s make and model, using original, warranty-backed equipment parts. This route can bring peace of mind to a purchaser.
  • Going direct to the OEM might be an ideal option for purchasers who are well-versed in equipment purchasing and understand what would make their end-of-line packaging more efficient.
  • If you’re looking to upgrade your case forming line from manual to automated, a knowledgeable OEM can be a valuable resource. Finding an OEM that partners with you is priority.

Working with an agency

When it’s time to invest in new equipment, many manufacturers turn to agencies. Agencies specialize in packaging equipment, both primary and secondary. Their contacts and knowledge about all things automation can be a tremendous resource for busy manufacturers.

  • While an agency can help a newer manufacturer streamline the procurement process, it’s also common for established companies to have longstanding relationships with an agency. They rely on their up-to-date industry knowledge, as well as their contacts with many packaging equipment brands.
  • Be aware that some agencies have exclusive contracts with specific OEMs. One key reason manufacturing firms work with an agency is it gives them a chance to evaluate products from several equipment brands. But an exclusive contract eliminates that advantage, and can hide options that might be more helpful to your operation.
  • At the end of the sales process, you purchase the machine from the OEM and the machine is warrantied and supported by the OEM with certified technicians.

Buying a case erector through a distributor

Working with a distributor has some similarities to working with an agency. Like an agency, working with a knowledgeable, well-connected distributor can link you to a packaging solution that works well for your company. But once you buy that case erector, there are some key differences.

  • The distributor is the purchaser of the equipment, and they sell it to you. It’s important to understand that in the eyes of the OEM, the distributor “owns” the final sale of the equipment.
  • Repairs and servicing of the equipment usually falls to a technician from the distribution company. The OEM continues to support the distributor.
  • Purchasers may prefer working with a distributor, usually because they have a well-established relationship — and the distributor may be based right in their community. Because they trust the expertise of the sales team and technicians, this is their preferred channel. Knowledgeable distributors partnering with an OEM can help provide a wide support base for the purchaser.

Buying a case erector your way

When you’re ready to invest in case forming and sealing equipment, INSITE Packaging can accommodate any of these preferred purchasing processes. We would be honored to partner with you directly. Contact us today to get started.

Third-party agencies and distributors

INSITE Packaging has no exclusive contracts with agencies. If you already work with an agency or distributor, and you’re interested in our brand, let your representative know.


INSITE Packaging Automation is built upon the knowledge and experience of Douglas Machine Inc., a secondary packaging solutions provider with over 55+ years of experience. If you have previously purchased secondary packaging equipment through Douglas, or need information on additional secondary packaging solutions beyond case erecting and sealing, your contact at Douglas can get you started.

Get Started

If you’re ready to get started, contact INSITE Packaging or Douglas today and talk to one of our experts about your secondary packaging needs.

Robotic case erectors: How they compare to traditional case erectors

Like any secondary packaging machinery, a case erector is a major investment. It’s not just the initial expenditure. Selecting a machine with the best performance and efficiency influences your end-of-line production for years to come. When choosing between a traditional case erector and one that uses robotic movement, it can be difficult to sort fact from fiction. To start the decision process, consider comparing the following important features of these two types of case erectors.

Mechanical parts

A case erector with robotic arm pick-and-pass movement is certainly eye-catching and futuristic. At the same time, this design provides important advantages to the production floor. Top of the list is the fact that SCARA robotic movement requires fewer parts and components to operate than a traditional case erector — as much as 40-50% less. Here’s how it can get by with fewer parts:

  • The robotic arm can perform the same task across multiple case types and sizes. That means there are dramatically fewer components to switch during a changeover. It’s mostly controlled by programming.
  • Fewer parts means more accessibility, increased sanitation, less noise and more safety. Combined, this means getting your operators and maintenance personnel trained quickly.

[Read more about the advantages of a case erector with robotic arm movement]

Fewer parts also translates into fewer maintenance tasks, fewer opportunities for breakdowns, more uptime and lower overall operational costs.


Traditional case erectors generally require more machine tuning and adjustments during changeover.

Robotic case erectors utilize high repeatability from servo-controlled movements. This dramatically reduces the need for tuning and adjusting to get the line running again, improving overall uptime.


Square footage isn’t a luxury in a production space. Facilities are a significant expense for manufacturers of consumer-packaged goods, meaning cost per square foot is a critical metric. In a plant with limited floor space, a traditional case erector with more mechanical parts will occupy a larger footprint compared to a SCARA robotic case erector. For example, the maximum size of INSITE Packaging’s E20T case erector is under 13’ x 5’.

Lower decibels

A SCARA robot in operation is quieter than the mechanical parts of traditional case erectors. Having fewer mechanical parts with a smoother machine movement lowers the decibel level on the production floor.

Case handling

Case erectors usually use one of three methods to open a case: pin and dome, traditional vacuum or opposing cup vacuum. With pin and dome, the machine inserts the pin into the flute of the corrugated blank, giving it leverage to open the case and ready it for squaring. Some tout pin and dome as the ideal method because it uses a tool rather than vacuum to open the case. Traditional vacuum, opposing cup vacuum and pin and dome methods are comparable in maintenance.

Pin and dome and traditional vacuum may work well if the corrugated is in pristine condition. In reality, conditions of the case blanks can change. They can:

  • become warped in high humidity
  • become bent or crushed at the edges
  • have variations in material tolerance

Because of these imperfections, the pin can often miss the flute using pin and dome. As a result, the case can’t open, causing the machine — and the line — to come to a halt. For that reason, pin and dome is not always the most efficient solution in a case former.

Pin and dome opening systems tend to be less effective with other imperfections in the corrugated as well. A batch of corrugated blanks with thinner than normal stock can result in higher than normal ripped cases, lower throughput and lower efficiency.

Traditional vacuum may afford more forgiveness in the corrugated blank as pins are rigid and vacuum cups are pliable. Cleaning cups and filters do take maintenance; however, pins can bend and break, making the maintenance comparable to that of vacuum. Traditional vacuum opens the case from only one side, which lowers efficiency.

A Rockwell-controlled robotic arm of an INSITE case erector uses opposing cup vacuum to positively open blanks from both sides of the case. This method provides an efficient solution to glue overspray that may occur on the manufacturer’s joint that prevents the case from opening. It also allows the erector to handle corrugated blanks with tolerance variations at a higher success rate and with greater reliability. Combined, this improves your overall efficiency and throughput — and lets you keep your attention on other areas of production.

Contact INSITE Packaging today and learn more about how automation can improve your line.

Inconsistent cases: Case forming annoyances, and how to overcome them

A jammed case erector and skewed corners are two of the biggest annoyances when it comes to case forming. When it happens with any frequency, it creates an unwanted disruption to your production line.

Sometimes, it can be difficult to tell if the problem comes down to materials or mechanics. Use this troubleshooting guide to help you get to the root cause of your jammed case erector and skewed boxes.

How cardboard quality can lead to jammed machines

A well-constructed case always starts with clean, dry corrugated cardboard. When cardboard is dirty or damp, the case erector will have trouble opening as well as sealing the cases. If your machine gets jammed, consider examining your cases’ cardboard quality as your first point of trouble-shooting.

  • If the case erector uses the opposing cup function, the presence of dust on the cardboard’s surface can cause interference. In this situation, the equipment may have trouble opening the case, which can lead to stoppage.
  • Damp cases are more likely to tear, especially when the machine uses the pin and dome opening method.
  • Dirty and damp surfaces can also prevent tape and glue from bonding with the cardboard. Although this issue doesn’t necessarily lead to jammed equipment, it’s worth noting that it can increase the risk of cases opening unexpectedly during handling, which can result in product damage or — worse — possible injury to personnel.

Checking for good cardboard conditions is important. Sometimes quality issues can be resolved by your supplier. If your cardboard stock arrives dusty, for example, the dust could be a byproduct of manufacturing the cardboard blanks. Whether you contact your supplier or resolve the issue on site, correcting quality issues could prevent equipment jams and save you time, cost and other potential damages.

Skewed corners: Is it mechanical or material?

When it’s time to palletize the load for shipment, straight, squared corners are critical to building that sturdy stack.

When building a pallet, boxes are stacked and interlocked to form one sturdy, singular block. Your boxes are designed to take on a certain amount of load and pressure, but something as simple as a crooked corner can affect the compression strength. Why is this problematic? Too many skewed corners will weaken support, making your stacks unstable and more likely to shift or even topple in transit. This problem can exist even if the pallet is secured in shrink-wrapping. Skewed corners can result in damaged inventory, not to mention higher risk of injury to personnel.

If your boxes have skewed corners, check to see if the problem comes from the cardboard material itself. If the cardboard passes inspection, then some issue with your packaging and palletizing equipment could be the cause.

When material tolerance causes skewed corners

Like many manufactured materials, corrugated cardboard blanks have minor, imperceptible variations. The variations that occur during manufacturing of the case blanks are known as material tolerance.

As long as the material tolerance falls within a specific range, the constructed case should be sound. However, if the joints of the cardboard case are not glued properly, the end result is skewed corners and a misshapen case.

These out-of-tolerance cases can sneak up during a production run, so it’s good practice to have your team spot-check the formed cases throughout all phases of packaging. If two of four corners are skewed, the cause is likely coming from an out of range material tolerance.

Once you identify problematic batches of cases that are outside of the tolerance, you can pull the bad blanks from the run and contact your supplier to resolve the issue.

Mechanical solutions to skewed corners

If all four corners are skewed, with two being greater than 90 degrees and the remaining two less than 90 degrees, then the issue lies with case assembly.

A well-designed case erector is one effective way to solve the problem. Investing in a machine that uses smart features to check and correct skewed cases is your best bet. INSITE’s Case Erector has an active box-squaring feature that can ensure squared corners, even after a changeover. Here’s how it works:

  • A photo eye scans the leading edge of the case, measuring the corner’s angle
  • If the corner is not 90 degrees, one of the side belts that guides the casebox responds with a burst of speed to get it into alignment, which adjusts the squaring
  • The box rolls off, ready for packing, with corrected, even corners

[For a closer look at how active box squaring works, read Hip to be square: The benefits of active case squaring]

When it comes to your production, forming cases should be the least of your concerns. Ideally, this segment of secondary packaging should reach a production level that is truly automated and practically invisible. If your endgame includes fewer machine jams and higher repeatability, it might be time to invest in a new case erecter.

Consider contacting an INSITE product specialist to start solving those equipment jams and case forming issues.

7 Benefits of Automated Case Erectors

With few exceptions, startup companies and small CPG manufacturers start with at least some capital investment in equipment. However, full automation of their end-of-line packaging tends to come later.

Although both manual and semi-automatic case erectors are fairly common for a growing company, there may be some costs when relying on these methods and some benefits to gain when switching to fully automated equipment.

What are manual & semi-automatic case erectors?

A manual case erector is a simple tool, a 90-degree wedge where the worker inserts the opened case blank to achieve perfectly squared corners while they secure the bottom flaps with tape or glue.

With a semi-automatic case erector, the worker opens the case blank by hand and inserts the case into the machine. The case erector then automatically folds and seals the bottom flaps in preparation for packing.

When is the right time to invest in an automated case erecter?

The decision to invest and build out a secondary packaging line isn’t an easy one. It takes planning and analysis to make sure this addition will bring meaningful improvements to your throughput and efficiencies.

These are common indicators that a manufacturing firm is ready for an automated case erector:

  • Decreased ability to meet demand with the existing configuration
  • End-of-line bottlenecks are slowing throughput
  • Increased inventory damage as a result of poor product packaging
  • Increased maintenance on existing equipment

When searching for a solution to these issues, read the 5-step guide to choosing a case erector

Why choose an automated case erector?

Here are seven ways an automated case erector can improve production.

1. Increase speed

Both semi-automated and manual case erector models rely on human hands to open and manipulate the case blanks, and this time-consuming operation is eliminated with an automated case erector. Even if you have an A-team on manual case forming, one worker can build 2-5 cases a minute. However, an automated case former can produce up to 30 per minute, improving throughput immediately.

2. Reduce backlog

Building cases by hand is time and labor intensive. Before packing, workers must first assemble a sufficient supply of built cases. This not only adds production time, but it also takes up valuable floor space. An automated case former can build cases on an as-needed basis, which frees up space on the floor for other purposes.

3. Ease of operation

Unlike a manual or semi-automatic method, there is little to no handling of the corrugated cardboard blanks during formation with an automated case erector. The machine opens, squares and seals the bottom of the case. All you need is an operator to load the blanks and enter dimensions, and the machine does the rest.

4. Faster changeovers

One hesitation to investing in new equipment is the need for skilled operators to complete a changeover. Today’s automated case erectors are designed to complete changeovers in minutes. When multiple different-sized cases are required for a given line, executing fast, easy changeovers will reduce downtime and give your operators time to focus on more productive tasks. Look for a machine that uses fewer parts and components. This reduces your downtime even further as fewer parts means less maintenance.

5. Smarter uses for labor resources

For much of the past decade (COVID-19 era excluded), a labor shortage and historically low unemployment have created challenges in the manufacturing space. A Deloitte study forecasts 2.4 million unfilled manufacturing jobs in the U.S. between 2018 and 2028. Forming boxes and cases for 8-hour shifts can be a difficult role to fill and maintain for any length of time. Automation of case forming frees up time that would otherwise be spent on recruiting and screening for a high-turnover role. It also enables more strategic use of personnel resources.

6. Reduce injury and repetitive strain

When workers form and seal cases for 8-hour shifts, the repetition can create strain injuries in tendons of the arms, wrists, shoulders and hands. In the long run, repetitive strain injuries can reduce productivity, increase time off for treatment and recovery, and decrease satisfaction at work. In the manufacturing space, any opportunity to reduce the risk of repetitive strain injury benefits worker health and productivity. Automation of case formation reduces exposure to employees as well as the company.

7. Reduce damage to inventory

Automated erectors can form cases and seal the bottom flaps with high precision. This accuracy reduces the risk of skewed case corners and missed applications of adhesion. Machine-built boxes mean straighter stacks and less opportunity for damage during shipment.

For more helpful information, check out this article: Looking to automate? Top features that contribute to OEE]

Case Erectors

If you’re looking for a fully automated case erector that provides effortless set-ups, quick and trouble-free changeovers, consistently square cases, fewer wear parts and less maintenance, consider INSITE. Our equipment design includes innovative use of robotics, active case squaring and elementary operator controls to simplify your case-forming application.

Ready to get started? Contact INSITE Packaging today and talk to one of our experts.

What are the advantages to a case erector with robotic arm movement?

The robotic arm has a long history in manufacturing. Now it has made its way into secondary packaging lines. When you look at the robotic arm on even a simple machine like a case erector, it has the power to inspire. Both in its resemblance to human form and futuristic nature, it promises to combine the best of human and machine movement.

A robotic arm functions and operates much like the arm of a human, with joints that can move in different directions. As the robotic arm picks and places, maneuvers and builds, it offers something that most other machines cannot: Simplicity. Instead of inventing a new machine process, the robotic arm is a replication of an already perfected all-purpose tool. Of course, robotic arms have been around since the 1960s, starting in automobile manufacturing.

But today, because of advanced developments, it’s now feasible and cost effective to deploy them in smaller applications, including secondary packaging. INSITE Packaging uses robotic arm movement to make end-of-line packaging more hands off and efficient, but it’s also something of a disruptor in the manufacturing space, says Todd Davis, manager of INSITE Packaging.

But when it comes to making capital investments, it always boils down to ROI, and it’s no different when you’re talking about a case erector with a robotic arm operation. Here are some questions one might ask:

  • What advantages are there to a robotic arm movement in a case erector?
  • Will you need a robotics specialist on staff to configure the case erector?

Robotic machinery is gaining ground in food manufacturing

First, here’s a quick look at the trends. Robotic automation is gaining traction quickly, even more quickly than anticipated.

Back in 2014, PMMI’s Trends and Advances in Food Packaging and Processing report forecasted that 82% of manufacturing plants in the U.S. would be using robotics. In 2019, it reached 90% and in the coming five years, a manufacturing floor with at least some robotics will be almost universal.

As this Packaging World article indicates, the higher output driven by COVID-19 at food companies is feeding a demand for robot automation, from producing to packaging all the way down to end-of-line secondary packaging. The reason: Increased concern for employee safety coupled with the overall growth in the food industry.

Advantages that robotic arms offer in case erector applications

Accommodating increased SKUs

In today’s market, that’s more critical than ever, as 67% of food manufacturers report a marked increase in SKUs, according to the 2019 Trends and Advances in Food Packaging and Processing. It goes on to detail the top challenges that accompany meeting production demands.

  • Increasing yields with existing equipment
  • Finding greater efficiencies in production processes
  • Integrating automation
  • Keeping up with changing market and retail demands
  • Maximizing uptime with reliable machinery

“This comes up frequently with our customers,” Davis says. “Marketing teams invest a lot into the product, finding the perfect shape and graphics for the packaging to give it differentiation. But what’s troublesome is the life cycle of products is getting shorter, and that might make some equipment obsolete. That’s why we deploy robots.”

[Check out Hip to be square: The benefits of active case squaring]

Meeting retailer requirements

When we’re talking about case sizes, there’s no such thing as one size fits all, not when case counts and product sizes wildly vary, depending on the requirements and product needs of the retailer. That points to the struggle with increasing yields with existing equipment, especially if its design isn’t conducive to repeatability and fast changeovers. More than ever, food manufacturers need flexibility from their end-of-line equipment.

Meeting labor needs

When humans are assembling boxes, it’s brain-numbing work. It’s repetitive, it can lead to repetitive strain injuries, and arguably offers little in the way of job satisfaction. Robotic automation offers that same flexible ability to set up cases of any size, so employees can work more productive and rewarding jobs.

Higher repeatability and less maintenance

When it’s time to change case sizes multiple times during a shift, one ongoing issue is achieving a high rate of repeatability — one of the challenges that presents itself as production schedules adjust to accommodate additional SKUs to meet market and retailer requirements. That’s where a traditional case erector can interfere with uptime and overall efficiency. Case erectors are driven by air cylinder operability. These are inexpensive, but the air cylinders are in need of frequent replacement and maintenance, making it more difficult to achieve consistent repeatability.

In addition to the need for frequent replacement, “The air cylinder is not a high degree of accuracy type of device,” Davis says.

INSITE’s case erector replaces these mechanical movements with a SCARA robot, drastically reducing the number of air cylinders and as well as the components, by 50%. Fewer parts means less focus on maintenance, and the SCARA robot comes best-in-class repeatability.

“If you have a recipe to run different case sizes, once you select that recipe, the servo motor knows exactly what to do and repeats that over and over, with a high degree of accuracy,” Davis says.

[Check out Get to know your case erector and sealer: Top features of INSITE Packaging robotic design]

Ease of operation

One hurdle to adopting robotic automation is the lack of expertise about programming, Davis says, which can make some manufacturers hesitant to adopt this technology.

An old-school guy might look at the robotic arm, and be a little concerned: “I’m used to the older machines and all their parts, with them I know what’s going on. This machine, that’s a new learning curve. I’m sure it means I might need to know programming.”

However, using INSITE’s case erector means no programming or robotic expertise is required. It’s designed for even a novice machinist to use.

“That’s where the software tools are there to fill that gap and allow you to essentially control the robot,” Davis says. “There’s no need to worry about programming the robot. Our servo-driven robotic arm is controlled through our HMI (human machine interface).

“When we change the case size through the HMI, the software tells the robot what new path to follow,” Davis continues. “So the end user doesn’t have to figure out the complicated aspect of creating a robotic path to follow. It’s all software driven. People don’t have to go through the basic setup. The software takes care of it.”

A case erector with a robotic arm operability can raise repeatability and lower your overall maintenance needs and expenses, giving your machinists more bandwidth to focus on more critical areas on the production floor.

Contact INSITE Packaging today and start seeing the benefits on your line.

Looking to automate? Top features that contribute to OEE

As the owner of a small- to medium-sized food and beverage startup, you wear many hats. If you’re working toward increasing the efficiency of your production, automated secondary packaging is one solution you may be looking at, especially if your current model is using manual labor to erect and seal packing cases.

If that’s the case, you wouldn’t be alone. New research from McKinsey shows 67% of companies accelerated automation during the pandemic to speed up processes and reduce contact between workers.

Increasing speed by 40-60% in your end-of-line packaging production is a worthy goal, but unless the machines can pull off robot-like precision from start to finish, increased production won’t fix everything. That’s why manufacturers use overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) as a way to evaluate their production line.

OEE takes measurement of how efficiently the machine is running compared to its full potential. When your OEE score is 100%, it means you’re producing high-quality packaging components, while the machine goes full speed, with no stoppages. In short, OEE measures quality, performance and availability. Focusing on OEE can increase efficiency, and reduce downtime as well as manufacturing costs.

If you’re looking to improve your valuable operating time, automating end-of-line packaging is part of the solution. Here’s a look at how different features can contribute to better OEE outcomes, and better efficiency.

Machines designed for flexibility

Today’s customers seek more variety and excellent value. Retailers are leaning on manufacturers to not only deliver on variety, but they’ve also identified shelf-ready packaging as part of their solution to increasing efficiency. For a food and beverage manufacturer, that means their entire line needs to be designed and built for agility. INSITE Packaging’s case erector has 40% fewer parts and lets you complete changeovers in minutes, so you can resume uptime almost immediately.

Improve secondary packaging outcomes

Speed is the point of automation, but when the production quality is off, speed will only contribute to setbacks. Consider the case erector. Skewed corners aren’t always apparent until containers are stacked tall on the palletizer. You may have sped up box production, but now your skewed containers can create a situation that can lead to damaged boxes and products as they make their way down the supply chain.

A well-built box reduces the opportunity for damage. You’ll want a case erector that comes with safeguards that guarantee perfectly squared cases before they roll off the line. INSITE Packaging’s robotic case erector has an active case squaring feature. Measuring, viewing and adjusting components measures each corner with precision. Not only can it produce boxes with nice, square corners, it can make better stacks on the pallet. When boxes are built with robotic precision, you gain the benefits from faster production.

[Read Hip to be square: The benefits of active case squaring]

Increase repeatability to raise uptime

A traditional case erector has air-cylinder mechanics, which are not optimal when it comes to achieving precision in repeatability. Here’s what happens: After a changeover from a smaller to larger corrugated packing container, it often means a human must go into the machine and adjust the air cylinders until there are no issues with box shape and bottom-sealing. The result is lower repeatability, more downtime and a lower grade of OEE, which makes the machine less effective for your production line.

INISTE Packaging’s robotic case erector is designed with a servo motor, which removes the guesswork from changeovers. Enter the required box dimension, and the software generates the path and the servo motor builds the box with precision. No adjusting; your machinists will gain back time to focus on more critical areas of production.

[Read Get to know your case erector and sealer: Top features of INSITE Packaging robotic design]

When it’s time to automate secondary packaging, the case erectors and sealers will optimize OEE. Contact INSITE Packaging today and start seeing the benefits.

Get to know your case erector and sealer: Top features of INSITE Packaging robotic design

What are some of the top things you need to know about INSITE Packaging’s case erector and case sealer? The following walks through some of the benefits and features to educate you on what these machines have to offer.

Servo motor

A servo is a small programmable motor that operates the robotic components of your secondary packaging machines. This is what makes the precision and repeatability possible in the case erector, so you can count on those 20 or 30 cases a minute (depending on which INSITE machine you purchase). The servo motor receives feedback of the component’s positioning and directs the component’s motion and positioning. The advantage of a servo-driven case erector is that it creates a streamlined robotic design. Thanks in part to this powerful servo motor, INSITE Packaging’s case erector has 50-70% fewer moving parts than a standard case erector. This means fewer breakdowns, less maintenance and lower cost of ownership.

Opposing cup case opening

Step one in building a case is opening the case blank. Many OEMs use mechanical components for this step. For example, many mechanical openers use pins that slide into the flutes of the corrugated cardboard. The downside of using mechanical parts like these is they can cause tears in the case, resulting in a machine jam. Opposing cup case opening removes the mechanical element and uses a simple vacuum function. The advantage of vacuum opening is it leaves no damage to the case, and because there are fewer components, the machine is less apt to jam or create downtime.

Wide open design

It’s not unusual to see an operator climb a case erector to fix a jam, when you’re talking about a machine with a standard closed design. INSITE’s open design case erector lets users walk right inside the erector so they can easily reach the access points, pull out cases, and quickly fix jams so stoppages are kept to a minimum.

Photo squaring

Squared corners are everything in a case. Otherwise, the result is unclosed boxes or uneven stacking surfaces (which can lead to skewed pallets and damaged products). During case squaring, two photo eyes check the case edges, and if they’re not squared, the adjustment tool will adjust the edges until they are square. At the same time, the belt will automatically change speed on one side so as not to disrupt production. Reliably squared corners simply make everything downstream run a lot better. In addition to gaining 97% efficiency with using the INSITE Packaging case erector, the proactive photo eye feature eliminates down-the-line problems, so you can gain even more efficiencies.

Secure sealing

INSITE case sealers use a two-belt drive system, both of which are spring loaded to provide positive compression on the side of the cases. This, in addition to overhead compression, assures all items inside the container are in place and securely sealed.

Smart SCARA robot technology

This four-axis robot is used in industrial assembly, and it’s designed to mimic the human arm. This assembly is powered by PLC (process logic computing) that allows you to switch case sizes without having to add and adjust components. It’s simply a matter of entering the case formula (length and height), and the arm is programmed and ready to set up the cases.

[Learn more from Packaging Machinery 101: 5 Terms You Should Know]

Fail safe, rapid changeovers

Few adjustment points means changeovers are completed in a matter of minutes. Machines store up to 12 recipes, so once the recipe has been dialed and successfully executed, it will replicate with precision the next time you need a specific size.


INSITE Packaging machines are easy to operate, even for a novice, thanks to the simple, intuitive human-machine interface and wide open accessibility to clear jams and restock case blanks. When your technician installs the machine on-site, three levels of training are available. The operator level of training teaches employees how to stop and start the machine and handle basic issues, such as clearing a jammed machine. Level two is operator plus maintenance, where the employee learns to manage routine upkeep and troubleshoot problems like air leaks in the hose. Level three senior maintenance training covers everything a skilled machinist needs to know to keep the machine in good repair for years to come.

Once your secondary packaging machines are up and running, INSITE provides access to many helpful reference tools. Our website hosts a full library of videos and animations, so you can plan, troubleshoot and ensure everything is running as it should. When you need a refresher, our owner manuals and job aids are just a click away. INSITE Packaging has U.S.-based support available 24/7.

Ready to upgrade your modular secondary packaging system with automated case erectors and case sealers? Contact INSITE Packaging today to get started.

Hip to be square: The benefits of active case squaring

Is container collapse the root cause of your damaged products? After confirming that the corrugated cardboard is the appropriate strength for your product, one area of improvement may be box construction.

Whether case building is done manually or by machine, one thing that often gets missed in the secondary packaging is skewed corners, with angles that aren’t quite right. It’s difficult for humans to square up the packing cases with the naked eye (without losing speed), and few mechanical case erectors are designed with a fail-safe to ensure each corner is perfectly square before it’s sealed and rolls off the line. The result often shows up on the pallet, as the never-quite-even stack emerges.

Are you sending out skewed containers?

According to Packaging World as much as 11% of shipments arrive at distribution centers with at least some case damage; even though the average is 2%, finding ways to reduce that figure can save you a bundle in the long run. That’s why when it comes to choosing the right automated case erector for your secondary packaging module, speed isn’t the lone consideration. Precision squaring of the cases is critical.

Low-quality cardboard, improper handling, failure to stabilize the load in transit, and exposure to excessive humidity all can result in fallen, punctured containers and damaged goods that the retailer can’t sell. Some of these things are beyond your control. But skewed corners on shipping containers doesn’t have to be one of them. You can eliminate some of the risk of container failure with smart automation features such as active box squaring.

Why do boxes need a good square? Corrugated cardboard is designed to handle a certain amount of weight and pressure. But the formula works best when the box is properly built and assembled as designed. When a variable such as an off-kilter box angle enters the picture, that can lead to uneven distribution of pressure, thereby reducing the container’s compression strength.

How does active box squaring work?

Unlike standard machines, INSITE Packaging’s case erector takes a couple of extra steps to make sure each and every case rolls off with perfectly squared corners.

First, a pair of photo eyes scan the edges of the case, checking the angles of the corner before sealing. If that corner is off-kilter, one of the side belts guiding the box responds with a burst of speed to align with the other belt and adjusts the squaring before it’s sealed. That ensures when the box rolls off, ready for packing, it has nice, even corners.

When you can build shipping boxes with this level of machine precision, “everything just works better up the supply chain line,” says Paul Grussing, a technician at INSITE Packaging.

Boxes stack more evenly and securely on the pallet, decreasing the likelihood (and danger) of pallet collapse. The walls of the container are less likely to bow and bend. Month over month, you’ll see a positive impact on your per-unit cost.

A well-built box has more impact than you would think! Contact INSITE Packaging today and start seeing the benefits on your line.

Troubleshooting issues with secondary packaging equipment: Better design is step one

Investing in secondary packaging equipment makes good business sense. Secondary packaging automation eliminates the need to use labor to set up, fill and seal shipping boxes. When you consider that one person can set up 2-5 containers a minute versus the 20-30 a machine can set up, it’s easy to see the long-term return on investment in terms of a faster, more flexible production line along with the ability to better utilize personnel in more productive areas.

However, because secondary packaging is at the end of the production line, any problems that cause a stoppage create a ripple effect on the rest of the line. Downtime disrupts production and delivery schedules, increases product waste and adds labor costs back into the expense column. Ideally, planning ahead to anticipate and minimize stoppages is a key part of production planning. The two-fold approach includes choosing equipment that’s designed with line efficiency in mind, and resources available for the equipment that allows machinists and production managers to troubleshoot problems and get things running again.

Let’s take a look at some of the common issues of case erectors and sealers and how they’re solved through machine design and a robust troubleshooting system.

Reduce machine jams

Jams happen. Sometimes, something goes askew with the box and sometimes they involve human error, but that doesn’t mean you can’t fix them.

When the major flap of the case gets nudged ever so slightly out of position (especially in high-humidity environments), the result is either a jammed case erector or damage to the box itself. Either of these things can hold up the production line and cause issues. Case erectors should come with essential features like major flap control, which can greatly reduce the number of incidents in the line.

Human error during the loading of the case erector also can lead to jams. Even a machinist with years of experience can load an erector incorrectly. To reduce these errors, posting easy-to-read, at-a-glance reminders helps everyone double check their work and make sure the major panel and case graphics are correctly positioned and oriented before the equipment is activated. (That’s why INSITE offers easy-to-read visual guides like the correct case hand and correct case opening sequence, so when there’s a problem, you can quickly identify where it’s happening and find the source.)

Consistent case squaring

One issue with case erector machines is producing cases with skewed corners that aren’t perfectly square. Unfortunately, if the case erector fails to make perfectly square corners, the problem doesn’t come to light until the case advances through the line to the case packer. The box loses real estate and a level packing surface to hold the packaged goods. When the goods can’t fit into the container, it’s a problem that quickly cascades into a backlog or stoppage of equipment.

Active case squaring by INSITE Packaging is designed to eliminate this common issue by using photo eye technology to check for squaring before the case is sealed, activating an independently driven side belt to adjust the case as needed.

Damaged boxes and goods: Once the packing is complete, the equipment should have the ability to grab the packed case with a firm-enough grasp, but not so firm that it causes damage to the case or the product inside. Programming the machine to find the right touch for the new product after changeover can leave room for trial and error on the machinists’ part.

INSITE Packaging’s HMI system eliminates the guesswork of creating a new recipe for the job. Once the line starts moving, your secondary packaging equipment is functioning just the way you need it, with dependable repeatability.

Robotic design

Robotic design means INSITE equipment has 40-60% fewer parts compared to traditional, mechanized case erectors and sealers. The result is less breakage, fewer changepoints and faster changeovers, all of which add up to better production.

Resources at your fingertips

INSITE comes from a long tradition of listening to what the customer wants in the never-ending quest to improve production and efficiency.

Our HMI design simplifies training and learning, even for a novice machinist. The HMI also provides access to a resource library that offers plenty of troubleshooting information to make it easy to find and fix the problem.

Visit our website to access our library of videos and animations that show how the case erectors and sealers work and function, which can aid in planning your modular secondary packaging system, and provide a ready reference.

INSITE Packaging also provides all the learning materials your team needs to operate the machine, everything from owner manuals to job aids to feature videos and animations.

Finally, INSITE Packaging has U.S.-based support available 24/7.

Ready to upgrade your modular secondary packaging system with automated case erectors and case sealers? Contact INSITE Packaging today to get started.

As a co-packer, does your secondary packaging equipment offer the flexibility you need?

Co-packing has emerged as the missing link to consumer packaged goods (CPG) processes. With one-third of food manufacturers leasing their facilities, space comes at a premium. Now that retailers have built robust e-commerce systems to offer more of the sizes, flavors and styles consumers want, it creates additional challenges for the makers of CPGs. There are more SKUs, a higher rate of shorter product runs, and to top it all off, just-in-time processes increase the need to sustain those just-right inventory levels. For these reasons, outsourcing the secondary packaging of the product emerges as a sensible solution because it saves time and eliminates the need to invest in additional equipment.

Then along came the coronavirus pandemic, and in many ways, it sped up what was already in play. As shoppers increasingly turn to online ordering and e-commerce, multi-channel offerings are now the new norm for retailers. From the looks of it, customers will stick to it, because they like how it saves time shopping, lets them comparison shop more easily, all while letting them continue to keep their distance as the pandemic continues.

Now that e-commerce is scaling up, requests to accommodate a bigger variety of lots, runs and product sizing are here to stay. That means agility is the key to efficiency for a co-packer.

So here lies the central question: Once a run is complete, how do you begin the next with the least amount of downtime?

The conventional solution was investing in custom-built equipment. A new product or size meant it was time to seek customized tooling for the specific job. But for a modern co-packer, the lead time renders this system obsolete. How is it possible to support customers with a lead time that can easily reach the six-month mark?

Adding to the struggles of a co-packer is attracting and keeping skilled machinists who can complete changeovers quickly, maintain repeatability and keep those lines running as much as possible.

[Read more about what manufacturers can do about the growing workforce skills gap]

Today’s smart solution is automation. A modular secondary packaging system lets co-packers begin new projects quickly and with less hassle and downtime. Automated case erectors and case sealers from INSITE Packaging can be important pieces in building that modular secondary packaging system, and here are a few reasons why.

Easy intuitive design

Easy operability can eliminate some of the pressures to fill job vacancies. The HMI panel by INSITE is designed for laymen to easily learn to operate, set up recipes, and maintain and complete changeovers. Simplicity along with easy-to-follow diagnostics and high repeatability frees up time for skilled machinists to focus on more pressing tasks.

[Read on to learn more about how manufacturers can reduce downtime from changeovers]

Value pricing

INSITE’s case erectors and case sealers come with the complete set of functions and features that would normally come as an expensive upgrade at other companies. By gaining complete functionality at less cost, consider the impact on the balance sheet and enhanced abilities to offer flexible options to customers and scale up.

Smart, modern design

With smart, robotic design, this equipment has 40% fewer parts than conventional case erectors and case sealers.

As e-commerce becomes a part of people’s buying habits, everything that touches the supply chain will be needed to gain the ability to process more SKUs in less time. Having the right machines that allow you to adapt and scale up is essential to optimizing any co-packing operation.

Ready to complete your modular secondary packaging system with automated case erectors and case sealers? Contact INSITE Packaging today to get started.