Not All Packaging Systems Are Created Equal

FPS-not all packaging systems are created equal

Beware of What You Don’t Know

There are many ways to purchase packaging equipment. Some solutions may appear more economical when you only consider price, but that is only part of the story. You must take into consideration a number of other factors when buying packaging machinery, designing your ideal packaging system, and making sure you receive the support you need for the best long-term results. 

It’s important to remember a good piece of packaging equipment should last at least 10 to 15 years if it is properly maintained. This is a long-term investment. Making poor decisions at the point of purchase could end up costing you more down the line. With this in mind, here are some of the ways you can purchase packaging equipment and materials:

• Direct from manufacturer

• Through a dealer or distributor

• Larger systems via an integrator/engineering group

• On the internet

• Used packaging equipment

In this article, we take a deeper look into the key differences between these equipment-buying methods. This includes exploring the pros and cons of each solution, mistakes to avoid, and qualities to look for in an equipment provider.

Direct from Manufacturer

It is a common misnomer to think you will secure the best possible price by purchasing equipment directly from the manufacturer. This is rarely the case. Most dealers and distributors represent multiple-unit sales and are provided discount rates. They can generally offer the same prices as the manufacturer.

When you buy from a manufacturer, it’s ultimately up to you to do your research and determine who offers the product(s) that best suit your packaging needs. Naturally, they all claim to be the best, but it’s hard to know for sure without extensive research and experience with their equipment. Manufacturers will try to sell you what they have available, even if it’s not the ideal solution. They may even push you on what is in stock or what is on sale, rather than what’s actually right for your packaging application. Either way, you are limited to what is in their catalog. In addition, manufacturer support is often regional to where their factories are located. You may end up having to work with a third-party service provider for maintenance and repairs. 

Dealers and Distributors

Equipment dealers and distributors generally provide a higher level of customer service than the manufacturer. They also offer a wider selection of equipment because they usually represent multiple manufacturers. Again, it can be tricky to tell which dealers/distributors are good and which are bad. It’s important to ask questions and put them to the test. Make sure they know what they are talking about and are willing to stand behind their marketing claims. Ideally, you want an equipment partner who is focused on outcomes beyond the sale. In other words, they are there to help you for as long as you own the equipment.

A quality dealer or distributor sells first-tier, proven equipment specific to your application and packaging needs. The Q&A sessions should tell you a lot about their level of expertise and commitment to your project. They should provide honest opinions and unbiased recommendations for equipment. Ask them about some of the common mistakes they see in the market or how they will respond to a downtime situation. Don’t be afraid to grill them, and make sure they offer exactly what you need.

It’s also a smart idea to visit their facility. They should have equipment available and ready for demonstrations. Some dealers take orders and then have the equipment shipped directly from the manufacturer to you. They may not have much hands-on experience with the machinery they are selling you.

Integrators and Engineering Groups

In many cases, systems integrators or engineering groups sell larger packaging system projects. They have the ability to develop manufacturing or packaging lines, in addition to installation services. However, it is quite unusual to find an integrator willing to deliver much service or support after the initial sale and integration. You end up paying a lot of money for engineering, overhead, and installation. Unfortunately, you are then left to rely on the individual manufacturers for equipment support (or multiple manufacturers). 

You must make sure the integrator has strong engineering and control capabilities for the line to run harmoniously. They will design a custom system for you, but it could be a fancy collection of components that don’t necessarily work well together. Troubleshooting problems can be difficult with custom systems, and you simply won’t find the long-term support you need with an integrator or engineering group.

The Internet

There’s a saying that everyone can look good at a trade show and on the internet. While there are some credible online sellers out there, how do you truly vet these companies? What is their mission and objective? Sadly, the most truthful answer is volume. It generates attention for online product sales with low prices. This may tempt you to take a chance on buying a piece of packaging equipment sight unseen.

Even the most basic machine is a highly technical purchase. This equipment is a major expense, considering the initial purchase price and long-term operational expenses. What expertise can you glean from an online catalog? What happens if you buy the wrong equipment that doesn’t end up meeting your needs? What kind of technical support can the online seller offer? 

Like with the manufacturer, online sellers are operating with a sales-first approach. They are marketing specific products, which may not be what you actually need for your packaging system. You could save money with a lower online purchase price, but the eventual costs could come back to haunt you. Online equipment buying is a risky proposition, unless you know exactly what you are looking for and aren’t worried too much about long-term product support.

Used Equipment

Speaking of risky propositions, used equipment buying presents the ultimate risk/reward scenario. Sure, you can get a really great price on previously owned machinery. However, how do you weigh the benefits of an immediate opportunity (lower initial cost) versus any future problems that can arise with used equipment? The majority of used packaging equipment available on the market is someone else’s mistake or problem. Are you willing to risk inheriting their issues? Used equipment shouldn’t be a realistic consideration, unless you have the opportunity to see it in person for a thorough inspection. Even then, you know the risks you are taking.

We Can Help

First Packaging Systems brings you the best of all worlds. We are focused on outcome-based solutions. FPS can help you design and optimize a custom packaging system, or we can help you find the ideal packaging equipment and materials to meet your specific needs. We offer many years of experience working with companies like yours. We provide competitive pricing and personalized technical support, regardless of your location. Our goal is to build harmony in manufacturing through packaging system optimization. Please feel free to ask us any questions or take a tour of our facility. We keep all machinery in stock for basic applications and can find custom solutions for more complex projects. 

Contact FPS today to learn more about what we can do for you and your specific packaging system.