Personal care products in tubes, due to their shape, are traditionally placed inside small cartons before the next packing stage for retail or transport. Once enclosed, the rectangular shape of the carton allows for easy multipacking with standard shrink packaging machines having integral vertical or horizontal collators.
However, in recent years there has been a demand for packs containing as little as two tubes. In such cases, the cost of both using a carton and wrapping in shrink film is significant, which has led to increasing demand for the packaging of tubes without carton. The tubular shape flattened at one end, sometimes with smaller cap than the body, presents some challenges in conveying, grouping and wrapping.
Packaging machine manufacturers that took up the challenge produced two kinds of machines, ones with tubes laying flat during conveying and packing process, ones with tubes standing up. Standing tubes require the cap to be flat and nearly the same diameter as the body to avoid toppling during the packaging process.
In response to recent customer requests, Autopack has developed its SLT Shrink Packaging System for tubes, capable of wrapping up to 50 multipacks / min. The SLT uses an indexing conveyor with adjustable restraints separating each group. In most cases the tubes arrive from a tube filler laying flat; if so the indexing conveyor has to be manually or robotically loaded.