A Look into the World of Cartoning Equipment

Cartoning machines play a crucial role in packaging a wide range of products, from wine bottles to pet food cans to bagged candy.


Welcome to Package This. Today, we explore cartoning equipment in its many forms.

Cartons are formed using a flat piece of paper stock known as a blank, usually made from paperboard or white-lined chipboard. As the blank passes through the machine, a forming head presses down, thereby creating a three-dimensional concave space for the carton loader to place product.

After the carton is created, the next step is filling the carton with product, known in the industry as carton loading. Here we see an integrated top load cartoner from Syntegon. The core of Syntegon’s TTMD consists of a top load cartoner component for forming and closing, combined with seamlessly integrated Delta robot cells for product loading. The robotic solution's camera-based vision system detects the position of the individual products on the infeed belt. Delta robots pick single or multiple products arriving in random order and place them in cartons or trays, according to specifications, over the wide opening. Here you can see the machine packing wrapped taco shells into a lock-style tri-seal carton. Glue is applied to the cover flaps as the cartons move into position for closing. The closer then presses down the flaps to seal the carton before moving it to the outfeed conveyor.

There are different types of carton loaders, including end-load and top-load machines, but in general, carton loaders are grouped by how the product is loaded: either vertically or horizontally.

Here, we see a vertical cartoner from ESS Technologies featuring a robotic top-loading design for precise product handling. Capable of running at rates of up to 90 cartons per minute, this top loader offers multi-format flexibility within a compact footprint. This system can vertically load various products into different styles such as straight tuck, reverse tuck, and lock-bottom boxes. Depending on the volume and variety of their runs, some brands may opt for machines that combine the functions of erecting, loading, and sealing in a single, integrated operation. This system is also designed to be integrated seamlessly into the production line with vision systems as well as labeling, checkweighing, and serialization equipment.

Top load cartoners form and erect cartons that usually feature hinged flaps. This family of related packages – such as lock trays, cake boxes, and one-piece tuck tops – all feature a wider opening that allows products to be easily loaded vertically over the top of the package.

Here we see the comfort feeder from Schubert. This top load cartoner is capable of automated feeding of carton blanks directly from the pallet with continuous operation for up to six hours without refilling the magazine. It is suitable for all types of carton blanks and carton materials and boosts fast format changeover. Here we see the equipment form cartons and then place energy bars into the boxes, and finally close them. The machine features an extremely compact layout thanks to single lane erecting with a high output of 60 cycles. It can be flexibly combined with cartoning (or other Schubert) machines in the upstream and downstream sections.

So far, we've explored cartoners that load products vertically, but horizontal cartoners also play an important role in the packaging landscape. These cartoners load products by pushing them through while the box is flat on its side. Boxes of frozen pizza are a typical example of products that use the horizontal load technique.

Let’s look at the NHC-20 horizontal cartoner, with vision technology, from Rychiger Canada, formerly known as Nuspark. This fully automatic horizontal cartoning machine is easy to integrate due to its small footprint, and tool-free changeover when switching between product sizes. The NHC-20 is shown here packing hot chocolate pouches using glue to seal the package and also comes in a tuck configuration. The machine is customizable to many different types of products with easy integration to auxiliary equipment such as printers, and labelers.

Sealing is the final step in the cartoning process. In some cases, a machine dedicated to the sole task of carton sealing is required. These machines create secure seals that ensure that the product inside the carton remains safe and protected until it reaches the consumer.

Here we see the Spartan Cartoner from Econocorp. The machine is used to automate the process of erecting, loading, and closing cartons. Econocorp’s flexible cartoner can handle both paper board and corrugate materials and is suitable for a variety of products and carton sizes.

The last category of cartoning equipment is sleevers. This includes a wide variety of machines that apply a sleeve, typically made of paperboard or corrugated or other materials, around a single item or package. We hope you’ve enjoyed learning about the machines that box up some of the world’s favorite products.

For more videos on packaging machinery and materials, please subscribe to our full Package This series on YouTube. And for a deeper dive into the cartoning technology we discussed here, explore PMMI ProSource, a searchable directory with 1,000 packaging and processing suppliers. Visit ProSource.org to search suppliers by package type, material, or features. Thanks for watching!

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