Faster Boxing — Less Waste

Oct. 4, 2000
Imagine, each day, having to manually pack and seal thousands of boxes of different sizes and shapes. Mail order company Heartland America, Chaska, Minn., did just that until recently when it decided to automate key parts of the packaging process.

Heartland America Shipping Manager, Jason Drum, seals boxes with the 700r 3M-Matic Random Case Sealer. During peak season, the 3M-Matic case sealer and the Fill-Air 1000 System help Heartland America process 4,600 boxes per day in a single, eight-hour shift, using only one production line.


The Fill-Air 1000 System fills cushions with air for placement in packages along with the product.


Imagine, each day, having to manually pack and seal thousands of boxes of different sizes and shapes. Mail order company Heartland America, Chaska, Minn., did just that until recently when it decided to automate key parts of the packaging process.

Providing a turnkey packaging solution to Heart-land was packaging distributor Jesco Industrial Supplies Inc., Minneapolis. Jesco chose for the task a 700r 3M-Matic Random Case Sealer from 3M, Minneapolis, and a Fill-Air 1000 packaging system from Sealed Air Corp., Saddle Brook, N.J.

Here's how it all works: The 3M-Matic system uses pneumatic actuators to hold empty boxes open for filling. It also aligns them for sealing and automatically adjusts to the package height and width. Next, the Fill-Air 1000 equipment inflates a plastic packing cushion used to secure the boxed items. This clean, lightweight, inflatable packaging eliminates loose fill mess. Finally, a taping head, also from 3M, smoothly and precisely applies sealing tape.

"Before, we'd manually apply several pieces of tape to each package. Flaps of one box would stick to adjacent boxes," says Chris Scribner, operations manager at Heartland. "The 3M-Matic system uses only one strip to seal the flaps and centers it on the box every time so packages look more professional."

Besides making packages look better and saving materials, the equipment significantly boosts throughput. Before the improvements, 15 people were needed to handle about 60% of the shipments. Today, 14 work-ers manage the entire throughput, or up to 4,600 boxes/day at rates to 15 boxes/min, a 37% improvement.

Sponsored Recommendations

How BASF turns data into savings

May 7, 2024
BASF continuously monitors the health of 63 substation assets — with Schneider’s Service Bureau and EcoStruxure™ Asset Advisor. ►Learn More: https://www.schn...

Agile design thinking: A key to operation-level digital transformation acceleration

May 7, 2024
Digital transformation, aided by agile design thinking, can reduce obstacles to change. Learn about 3 steps that can guide success.

Can new digital medium voltage circuit breakers help facilities reduce their carbon footprint?

May 7, 2024
Find out how facility managers can easily monitor energy usage to create a sustainable, decarbonized environment using digital MV circuit breakers.

The Digital Thread: End-to-End Data-Driven Manufacturing

May 1, 2024
Creating a Digital Thread by harnessing end-to-end manufacturing data is providing unprecedented opportunities to create efficiencies in the world of manufacturing.

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of Machine Design, create an account today!