5 Things to Consider When Buying Packaging Equipment

You’ve decided to automate your packaging operations. However, that is only the first step in actually doing so. There are quite a few machines and even more vendors vying for your business. The hard part is identifying the right one for your application, yet you can’t afford to make a mistake given the cost. Here are five things to consider when buying packaging equipment.

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Faster is generally better, but this has to be balanced against what you need. The packaging equipment should match the speed of your production line so that packaging doesn’t become the bottleneck in your operations. This is why you need to consider how much product you intend to produce each day and then buy a packaging machine that matches your desired output. If your assembly line isn’t that fast yet, you can slow the machine down until production catches up.


The ideal packing machine can handle a variety of products. It can shift from one SKU to another in minutes. This is essential if you’re packing a varied product mix. However, not everyone needs a machine that can switch over in minutes to another product type or box size.

A flexible machine may eliminate the need for a specially designed packaging unit. Yet you need to ask who else is using the machine and what their experience has been. You can’t afford to buy equipment that may not be suitable for your application. Ask for names and ask these customers if they’re satisfied with the equipment.

Waste and Waste Handling

Manufacturers are becoming more sensitive to waste generation and waste management. Packaging machines will produce varying amounts of waste. However, the less waste it makes, the less you have to manage. You can choose machines that use less material, or you can choose machines that trim excess film and only use exactly as much as is required.

You should have a thorough understanding of things like corrugated cardboard cases first and what differentiates them. For example, the difference between a single face and a triple wall doesn’t just affect the strength of the box. It also impacts the dimensions the machine has to work with and the ideal packaging process for that container.


Safety ratings must be checked when you’re researching packing equipment. After all, many people are considering packaging automation because they want to reduce the rate of injuries. Find out if the manufacturer has been sued for safety issues related to their equipment. Ask for white papers demonstrating they passed safety tests.

Don’t forget to take training costs into account. How much training does your team need to be able to use the equipment properly? And will the manufacturer provide that as part of the purchase price?

Ongoing Costs

You shouldn’t buy packaging equipment based on the list price of the equipment. You also have to consider ongoing costs like maintenance and support.

How often does the machine need to be cleaned, have the software updated or repaired? Is this maintenance something you can do or will you have to hire an outside contractor to do? It may make sense to pay more for a machine that comes with a maintenance agreement or has lower support costs. Find out what you need to do to get the machine set-up and train everyone to use it, too. If the machine isn’t intuitive, the team will be both frustrated and less effective as they try to get things set up right during changeovers.

Another factor to consider are the utilities and materials. How much tape will it use? How much power does it draw? And how much do the materials like rollstock film that it uses cost?

Infographic created by MGS Machine Corporation


Ask the right questions, and you’ll find the right packaging system for your production line. Use the right criteria and vet your vendors; you’ll maximize the ROI of your investment in packaging automation.