Custom Cartoning and Packaging Machines

Project Scope:

Custom Cartoning and Packaging  Machines

Recently, we were approached by two customers looking to integrate automated cartoners into the machines we were designing for them. Both needed automatic product packaging with the capability to process multiple-sized cartons. This was a perfect opportunity to use our standard cartoner design and modify it for each unique project. Taking advantage of our proven knowledge and experience made these fun projects for our team to dive into.

Epson SCARA robot

SDC custom conveyor systems

KEYENCE vision systems

Adjustable pre-folded carton feeding magazine

Servo driven indexing dials

Custom pick-and-place motion modules

Cartoner machine indexing ring

The machine concept:

The first machine, machine A, needed an integrated cartoner that could accommodate three sizes of standard reverse tuck cartons for hose fittings. This would allow the machine to be a flexible manufacturing system (FMS), handling part variations and production needs.

The second machine, machine B, required various sizes of kits for a consumer pest management product. This cartoner was designed to be a full overlap seal-end carton so each kit could properly contain a pre-specified number of bottles, applicators, and an instruction insert. While the smaller kits used a lightweight paperboard carton, the larger kits used a thin flute corrugated carton. This large gap in component differences meant that the cartoner needed to have advanced capabilities.

Both needed carton sealing and automated cartoner closures and the ability to handle unique part geometries with multiple carton sizes. A custom high-speed packaging machine was the starting point for both machine concepts.

Machine production requirements for both customers were 20-30 units per minute.

The Tale of Two Cartoners

Our Solution:

SDC applications and design engineers referenced our library of pre-engineered platforms, motion modules, and innovative technology for different and unique approaches. Both solutions included vertical rotary cartoners while embracing custom-engineered components that made them excellent for accomplishing each customer’s production goals.

Reverse Tuck Cartoner:

As a first step, the flat-packed cartons are erected. A label is applied at the next index, then the bottom flap is tucked in preparation for the hose fittings to be inserted. A custom-tooled elevating conveyor and bowl feeder were chosen to easily accommodate multiple, irregular-sized components. This provided an ergonomic way to bulk-feed components into the machine. To increase the value of this FMS, the servo-driven indexing dial allowed for quick, toolless dial changes for product changeover.

Full Overlap Seal End Cartoner:

This automated machine required a more complex solution that began with a semi-automated case opener. The cases are rotated on a free-rolling ball conveyor so each top cardboard fold can be cut in preparation for robotic parts feeding. After oriented and quantified for their specific kit, the group is placed on a multi-tooled, servo-driven indexing dial. Like the first machine, this dial also allows for changeovers with a simple HMI selection.

With a two-dial station layout, the bottle cases are being processed while the custom cartoner erects the cartons, the bottom seal is closed, and the two dials interact together to fill the carton. With the next station, the part-filled carton is visually inspected, and the top seal is closed.


At SDC, we’re experts in all things related to custom automated machines. We provide creative ideas and proven solutions to automate various material handling, assembly, and inspection applications in their manufacturing processes. As we work with our customers to develop new machines, we are always tracking what technology our customers need that they can’t find elsewhere. When we realize a trend in requests, we know that it’s time to invest in developing our own standard solution. These projects helped us optimize our box erecting and cartoner machine capabilities.

With over 25 years designing and building automated manufacturing machines, we continue to develop innovative machine solutions to add to our extensive technology toolbox. In this case, it has allowed us to address cartoner challenges from vantage points that help set our parts feeding capabilities apart from our competition. Easy tooling changeover adds impressive value to our flexible manufacturing systems. Our custom automated machines are built for longevity and provide our customers with current and future production confidence. Whether a first-time investment or a long-term customer, we view each project as a challenge to exercise our skills and build our knowledge. After all, we are your custom machine partner for an automated future.

Key Cartoner Requirements:

  • Input feeding flexibility
  • Various carton sizes, materials, and closure types
  • Required speed and capacity levels
  • Product mix of component sizes and kitting contents
  • Product instruction insert
  • Quality checks by visual and weight confirmations
  • Marking and labeling
  • Changeover time requirements
  • Ergonomic considerations for operators
SDC Concord Headquarters 2023 Fall Image

About Steven Douglas Corp. (SDC)

Designed to Outperform | Your custom machine partner for an automated future.

At Steven Douglas Corp. (SDC) located in northeast Ohio, we design and build custom automated machines and support manufacturing processes worldwide. In October of 2023, we moved into our newly built facility in Concord, Ohio. This space has allowed us to continue to grow as we expand our services and machine capabilities. Since 1998, our team has continued to drive each project from concept and design through installation, service, and maintenance.  We have built long-lasting partnerships with our customers and suppliers and continue to develop innovative solutions.

Our problem-solving methods combine creative engineering and proven technology to build custom machines. We specialize in assembly and processing, testing and inspection, and material handling automated machines across a broad spectrum of industries.

Innovation Awaits: