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When To Use Handheld vs. Operator Cycled Strapping Machines for Your Packaging

It doesn’t matter what you’re manufacturing — chances are straps will play a part at some point along the way. From containing individual items to closing cartons of loose material to palletizing thousands of products at a time, businesses use strapping systems for packaging and moving their goods every day.

This widespread need for containment has led to a variety of strapping devices, including handheld strappers and walk-up or operator-cycled machines — both of which are ideal strapping solutions in the correct setting.


An Overview of Handheld Strappers

Handheld strappers are portable devices that allow individuals to strap on the move. They’re battery-powered and often created with an ergonomic design to reduce fatigue during use due to their heavily human-dependent nature.

Handheld strappers are simple and straightforward to use. They’re manually aligned with two ends of a plastic strap. Once in place, they tighten and then heat the two ends of a strap together with a secure bond that doesn’t compromise their packaging integrity.

The clear benefit of using a handheld strapper is it can function in nearly any environment. In addition, their portability makes them ideal for unique circumstances. This has led to the prolific use of handheld strappers in specific industries, such as chemical, textile, logistical, and agricultural settings.

Affordability is another central selling point. Handheld strappers are comparatively small strapping solutions that don’t require significant capital investment.


A Look at Operator-Cycled Strapping Machines

When an enterprise has more significant strapping needs, it can use an operator-cycled machine. These are either semi-automatic or automatic devices that still require a human to operate or at least oversee. 

However, unlike a handheld strapper, operator cycles do most of the work. With semi-automatic models, the operator must put a product on the machine table and feed the strap into the device. From there, they turn the machine on via a foot bar or footswitch. This initiates the machine’s strapping cycle, at which point the device tightens, seals, and cuts the strap.

Operator-cycled automatic machines (also called walk-up machines) feature a built-in strap feed track. In this case, all the operator must do is place the package on the machine table and start the cycle.

Walk-up machines are larger, stationary devices that work well in an assembly line environment where products arrive at a set location. While less mobile and adaptable than their handheld equivalents, they can increase the speed of the packaging process. In addition, they make tasks like carton closing and low-volume bundling of loose material a breeze.

Semi-automated operator-cycled machines remain an economical option. Automated models increase the price but can be worth the investment when considering the time saved and increased output of a faster strapping system.


How to Choose the Right Strapper for Your Application

Choosing the right strapper requires careful analysis. There are several factors to consider. Asking the following questions can help narrow the choices:

  • What is the maximum size of the goods you need to strap? The weight and type of load you’re strapping can be deciding factors. In addition, when opting for an operator-cycled machine, these factors can dictate the optimal arch size required.
  • What weather conditions will the strapped packages face? Will they spend significant time out in the elements? This may require a more thorough and consistent packaging process, which an operator-cycled machine can provide.
  • What are the physical characteristics of the packages you need to strap? Things like load integrity and corners can influence whether an operator-cycled or handheld machine is appropriate.
  • How fast do you want to strap your products? If you have an occasional strapping need, a handheld unit should suffice. A semi-automatic or automatic strapper can be a game changer if you need to package hundreds or thousands of units each day.

Questions like these can help identify the specific strapping needs of each organization, ensuring that they select the right machine for their circumstances.


How and When To Upgrade to an Automated Strapping Machine

Many businesses start with a handheld strapper. This provides a high degree of strapping quality, albeit in minimum quantity. However, when a company scales its production, upgrading to an automated strapping machine can make sense. 

Automatic strapping systems are in-line devices that dramatically improve throughput, efficiency, and productivity. They also come with a larger selection of programmable features. This provides operators with more control over the nuances of the manufacturing process and enables them to meet customized needs without increasing their own participation or slowing output.


Finding the Best Strapping System for Your Business

Figuring out the best strapping machine for your company’s needs can feel daunting. Dozens of machines fall into the handheld, semi-automatic, and automatic categories. 

Fortunately, our team of machine experts at EAM-Mosca is standing by to help. They can provide professional advice backed by 40 years of strapping experience for every need and occasion. From affordable pre-designed solutions to custom-built systems, we’re ready to help you find the ultimate strapping solution for your business.


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