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  • Writer's pictureIan Haywood

Seal the band

Polythene stretch banding film is becoming the preferred method for pharmaceutical companies to bundle and unitize their products while improving productivity and reducing costs. Banding offers many perks: The equipment is compact with a small footprint and can be moved around easily; it can also be incorporated in production lines with infeed and exit conveyors to speed commercial-scale output. The basic principle of a banding machine is simple: The machine wraps a strip of polythene around a given product, or a group of products. When stacks of blister packs or sachets are ready to be bundled, they are run through the bander on a conveyor, the bander will take a continuous feed of boxed products and create bundles in various configurations.

In the pharmaceutical industry, shrink wrapping was historically the predominant mode of unitizing or bundling. However, because of the growing energy cost for using shrink tunnels and then the cost of air conditioning to cool the room, banding is growing in popularity. As a result, the same bundling operation can be performed without potentially damaging the product due to heat. In addition, banding solutions are less expensive to operate or maintain than shrink-wrap film, and third, they contribute less to the environment because they use less plastic film.

Providing the banding machine is configured and set up correctly, plastic bands will not deform or damage the product's shape. A clear film band, for instance, can enhance the appearance of a finished bundle by supporting or enhancing brand identity and integrity; it can also be used to display secondary messaging to support a variety of information agendas and eliminate separate, costly, pressure-sensitive labels. Whether the final product is a stack of blister packs, small cartons, trays or clamshells, film bands offer a practical, cost-effective solution.

Banding materials can offer great opportunity for savings, but operations and purchasing managers might not be aware of how best to attain them within their own operations. After purchasing the equipment and the necessary stretch banding film, many customers may find themselves single-sourced. Pursuing quotes from a conventional packaging supplier may limit someone’s access to high-performing, cost-effective materials and prove a fruitless exercise because of their limited knowledge of the technology or narrow material inventory. An original supplier, once established, can hold a virtual monopoly on pricing channelling only those materials that serve their bottom line best.

Additionally, traditional packaging suppliers offering conventional packaging material (stretch film, bubble, foam, corrugated etc.) may not have the converting capabilities to provide alternate film, so they don’t offer them. Only a rare combination of distributor/converter can enter this market.

The pricing for materials manufactured overseas isn’t necessarily stable — rather, it’s whatever the market can bear. Most high-profile large users buying pallet quantities are paying much higher prices compared to what they would pay for a domestic equivalent.

These products work, and there’s very little risk on the purchasing manager’s part to test domestic products. Companies are likely to enjoy tremendous additional savings on film consumables, and samples are readily available to prove concepts and efficacy. Considering all of the aforementioned advantages, seeking a qualified domestic supplier is well worth the investigation.

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