Meeting the Challenge of e-Commerce

Apr 20, 2018

Edson SR3600 Case & Tray Packer

The advent of e-commerce has forced a change in mindset for many industries. Converting is no exception. 

Gary Evans, vice president and general manager of Edson Packaging Machinery (Edson) said, “Although most changes have been evolutionary, the changes in e-commerce could force revolutionary changes. We (the entire supply chain) need to change our mindset. I’d love to be able to sell a machine to Amazon that would serve its needs.” Edson, a ProMach product brand, is a manufacturer of high speed case packing equipment to the tissue industry for more than 55 years. 

Helping Edson along with this possibility is one of its newest ventures, a partnership with Green Ox Pallet Technology (Green Ox), but more about that later. 

Edson was founded in 1962 by the late Ed McCrudden, a “true entrepreneur,” according to Evans. He actually started the company out of his garage and held the patent for the first automatic case packing machine. 

Since the beginning, tissue has been the focus of the company’s efforts and accounts for approximately 90 percent of its revenue. Through the years, the company succeeded in establishing long-term relationships with what Evans calls the blue chip companies representing tier 1 tissue converters. 

“We have re-invented ourselves several times over with new machines and technologies” Evans says. 

Edson has a global presence—South America, Australia, Mid-East—but most of its business is in North America. In the tissue industry, it works with both independent converters and integrated firms. 

THE IMPORTANCE OF PARTNERSHIP 

No matter the customer, a supportive supplier: client relationship is becoming more important. “It goes above and beyond technology,” Evans points out. “The strength of support throughout a relationship is bigger than technology. 

“We are also being asked to help support customers’ online packaging efforts, and that shows how the market is changing and how we need to adapt.” 

The ability to address the needs of its clients is critical to any success Edson may achieve. There are different levels of support that customers need. Evans explains that the smaller players often need more on-site support. “More often than not, blue chip companies have their own support staff. We provide ongoing training as needed. 

“The evolution of technology has meant machines are becoming more intuitive”, says Evans. “In the past there were a lot of analog sensors. Now we are using IO-Link sensors. We can even modify operation by phone. Diagnostics are leading us down the path to intuitiveness. It’s making machines safer, more reliable, and more consistent.” 

IO-Link is a new sensor and actuator standard that can improve flexibility, capability, and productivity of new and existing packaging machines. It is based on the first international standard for IO technology and has the support of the major automation companies from sensor and actuator producers to controls suppliers. 

As can be expected, Edson has a wide range of possibilities available to fit customer needs. At Tissue World 2016 in New Orleans, it introduced the Raptor SL, an automated case packer aimed at small to mid-sized companies serving both the at home and away from home (AfH) markets. 

Edson Raptor SL Case Packer

The Raptor SL is a side load case packer that erects, packs, and hot-melt seals up to 12 cases per minute of bath, facial, towel tissue or napkins. 

Edson also produces a 1000 Series, “a basic, air-powered semi-automatic packing machine.” Evans says this has more manual operation than its high-end models. It is a value-based packing machine designed for companies looking to automate their production. 

At the high end, the high-speed 3600 Series offers fully automatic operation with lots of range and built-in flexibility. Cascades’ new converting facility at Scappoose, OR, featured elsewhere in this issue, installed the Edson 3600 case packer. 

Although Edson serves mostly high-end range with large volumes (26-27 cases per minute depending on the product), Evans adds that the company is trying to reach lower volume producers as well. 

He says that Edson does customize its products based on customer needs. “Our focus is to provide the best solution for customers. Our machines have different variations to serve different products, configurations or size of container.” A wide range of flexibility is critical because of the different products that could go through the packing machine. 

An example of this can be seen in the robotic top load RPd 270 case packer. Evans says the company “leaned on” the technology of the 3600 and transformed it into a separate machine because some customers only use trays. 

“A lot of customers come to us and ask if we can help them be more cost-effective and efficient,” Evans explains. “It’s not just through the equipment. We can help them with integrating up and downstream machinery.” 

A NEW VENTURE 

Edson Green Ox Pallet Forming Machine


As mentioned, Edson’s latest venture is with Green Ox to develop a corrugated pallet assembly machine. When Tissue360° visited Edson, a prototype was close to completion. 

The 700-square-foot machine will feature up to four stations and can assemble 200-250 corrugated paper pallets per hour, providing just-in-time pallet production for end-of-line real time pallet availability. 

In a press release, Green Ox President Adam Pener said, “The case for switching from wood pallets to corrugated paper pallets was originally made by IKEA, and they have saved more than $1 billion since making the change in 2012.” 

Evans adds the venture makes good sense for Edson because of its 55 years of experience with end of line packaging. “We understand corrugating and product control, so going from a case packer to Green OX is in line with what we do and how we can leverage our experience in the market, our engineering know-how and financial strength."

The cooperation dates back to the Tissue World conference where Green Ox proposed a project. “They were looking for an innovative manufacturing process with innovation at its strength,” notes Evans. “That’s our whole value offering. 

“There is a lot of potential for the product,” Evans adds. “It is lighter than wood, environmentally-friendly and less expensive.” 

Compared with wood, the light weight corrugate will reduce transportation costs due to fuel savings. 

However, he is quick to point out the end solution is not to eliminate wood pallets. A standard 48x40 corrugated pallet weighs less ~10.5 pounds and can hold up to 2,300 pounds. 

In conclusion, Evans said that Edson is continually looking to innovate. “We are trying to be more predictive, not ‘run to fail,’ and we’re also looking to have a machine be able to correct itself. We’ll continue to work on diagnostics and predictors.” 

He again goes back to e-commerce and how it will affect companies such as Edson. “These changes are coming fast. Products that may not have been packed in cases may need to be for e-commerce.” 

Mixed case lots are a possibility, according to Evans. “This lends itself to e-commerce and shows the flexibility of the technology. If you order from home and want tissue products, what if you could get them in one delivery. Give me what I want when I want it. 

“It is the solution and help we can provide our customers so they can do the same for their customers. It is translating the consumer need to what we provide and must be able to provide in the future.” 

The philosophy has been to buy the leading industrial supplier in a sector. “Edson has a strong presence in packaging with its technology and people,” Evans explains. “ProMach is the largest packaging machinery company in North America, providing best in class solutions to the marketplace.”

Visit