How to Reduce Downtime and Improve Throughput with Blister Packaging

Downtime on your packaging line costs time and money. Even inefficient lines without downtime slow down speed-to-market and leave money on the table.

How do you avoid line issues that result in extra maintenance and employee over time? How do you complete packaging runs faster? How do you increase productivity? You could be shipping, on shelf and in consumers’ hands that much faster.

Better throughput on your packaging lines is easier to get than you might think. If you already use a blister package, switching to combination-run blisters might do the trick. And if you’re in a box or clamshell, you will definitely want to consider gaining efficiencies with combination-run blister packages. You might even be able to reduce manual labor needs.

Combination-Run Blister Packages

Combination-run blisters are a highly effective way to improve throughput. It’s a technology that has been optimized over the last 20 years to work very efficiently with automatic and semi-automatic feeding.

With combination-run blisters, your blister run is combined with other customer orders that have a common setup. In other words, small runs of the same gauge material are grouped on the same sheet. Getting on a run requires little notice. Everyone shares tooling costs, and the commonality of set-up and materials mean that your packaging partner should have the experience to guarantee feedibility of blisters on your packaging line.

A number of brands and companies have turned to combination-run blisters to improve throughput: Sharpie, Eclectic Products, which produces adhesives and epoxies, and even Carmex maker, Carma Labs.

Better Design Means Better Throughput

A good packaging partner will optimize the blister design to fit your equipment and needs. A poorly designed blister package or one with wavy flanges will not feed correctly into your equipment. The entire journey of the blister package should be reviewed:

Questions to be Asked

• How efficiently can it be nested?

• How heavy are the nesting trays?

• Are you using an automatic feed?

• Is it fed into the machine with suction cups?

• Does the blister go into an outer folding carton?

• How is it packed into the case at the end of the line?

• Should the blister package be able to stand on its own?

• Will the package have a secondary use such as storage?

The materials, inks and coatings used on any backer cards also affect blister packaging throughput. Your packaging supplier will need to know what you intend to use, so it can consult on the right material for the blister and the heat sealing approach. A blister package that fails to seal is unacceptable.

Combination-run blisters reduce costs, giving you more access to the experienced packaging partners required to create an optimal blister design. Some partners will even come to your facility, document your equipment’s performance, and provide pointers that can help you get the most out of your machines.

Better Materials, Better Equipment, Better Throughput

The efficiencies gained through combination-run blisters allow you to access higher quality materials and equipment that work more efficiently on the line. Higher quality materials de-nest more easily. And better equipment equates to more polished outcomes. Heat sealers are a great example. The rubber on lesser quality sealers can leave behind an unappealing pattern or impression.

In general, the tooling that your packaging partner provides to you for running the blisters should be designed in tandem with the blister packaging. It’s the only way to ensure compatibility on your line. Packaging partners should be well versed on manufacturers’ latest technical specs, so they can build tooling that will perform well with your specific equipment. Also, it’s good to ask your packaging partners how they handle replacement tooling in case something breaks. You’ll want to make sure they engrave a specific reference number on any tooling, so that you have an easy way of requesting exact replacements.

Stop struggling with less than ideal throughput, keep your line moving and reduce costs with combination-run blisters. The extra financial leverage will help you secure a partner with the right experience to develop blisters and tooling that work seamlessly with your ancillary equipment and throughput needs. Please reach out if you have more questions.


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