Four Types of Case & Tray Packers

Horizontal load, top load, bottom load and tray packing are four types of case and tray packers built at Douglas. Within these four types are multiple styles of case and tray packers designed to provide packaging solutions for a variety of applications. Each style of case and tray packer offers different advantages that can solve unique packaging automation opportunities. At Douglas Machine, we create custom-built case and tray packers for a wide range of market segments. Although no two packers are exactly the same, the machines we produce belong to broad groupings. Whether you are in need of a packer to increase production, or your old packer is in desperate need of replacement, we can design the perfect packer for your application. This post will provide you with an overview of the types of case and tray packers that we build here at Douglas.

1. Horizontal Load

For mid to high speed case and tray packing applications, horizontal load solutions provide a high level of efficiency and speed. Douglas horizontal load case and tray packers include:

Intermittent Motion Packers

Intermittent motion packers are great for applications that call for variant speeds and multi-step packaging. Some of the advantages of Douglas intermittent motion packers include:
  • Improved utilization through precise and repeatable changeovers.
  • Case forming and sealing systems engineered to produce quality packaging.
  • Engineered for outstanding product handling, collation and loading.
  • Built for industry leading speed, control, efficiency and technology.
Douglas intermittent motion case and tray packer offerings include the Axiom® IM and the Invex® IM.

Continuous Motion Packers

For applications that require increased speed and production, continuous motion packers are a more efficient solution. Some of the advantages of Douglas continuous motion packers include:
  • Great flexibility for high-speed food and beverage applications.
  • Customizable for automatic partition insertions for bottle applications.
  • High-speed product handling.
  • Continuous case forming, compression and sealing.
Douglas continuous motion case and tray packer offerings include the Axiom® ARC and the Axiom® DL.

2. Top Load

Our top loading and product collation technologies provide manufacturers with optimum interaction between product, packaging materials and machinery to create the most effective solutions for your application.

TriVex® RL & RLi

Advantages of Douglas’ TriVex RL & RLi top loaders include:
  • Ideal collating systems for bags, pouches, cartons, trays, cups, cans, bottles and more.
  • Features cartesian and vision guided Delta robot configurations for optimal loading.
  • Flat and vertical pack casing for high impact retail ready displays.
  • Case erecting, loading, sealing and lidding in one compact machine.

TriVex® SL & SLi

Advantages of Douglas’ TriVex SL & SLi top loaders include:
  • Vertical pack configurations produce retail ready display cases with one or two product facings. With a quick and simple changeover, it packs pouches and flat bottom bags laying flat in the case with two or three products per layer.
  • Suitable for doy, pillow, flat bottom bags and pouches.
  • Compact footprint leads to less hardware and offers manufacturers unparalleled machine accessibility.

TriVex® CLi

Advantages of Douglas’ TriVex CLi top loaders include:
  • Ideal for Individual Quick Frozen (IQF) products such as non-free flowing frozen potatoes and vegetables, as well as pillow and gusseted bag product applications requiring flat and vertical bag orientations.
  • The integrated case erector, upright and flat pack flexibility and large size range meet market demand for case packing both retail and food service bags.
  • The convertible cassette pivots to easily reposition to horizontal or vertical mode which reduces parts and changeover time.

3. Bottom Load

Douglas’ primary bottom loader, the Ascend™, allows for an automation alternative when top loading is not a suitable solution.


Advantages of Douglas’ Ascend bottom loader include:
  • Provides an ideal solution for heavy products that are a challenge to pick and place during loading. Capable of loading hard to pack items such as tubs, jugs, bottles and cartons.
  • Features a gentle handling process, which is great for products that are fragile and require delicate handling.
  • Servo motions with active case flap folding.

4. Tray Packing

Douglas’ Contour™ tray packers provide product collating and tray packing solutions. Ideal for applications without shrink wrapping or where stand-alone machines are preferred.


Advantages of Douglas’ Contour Tray Packers include:
  • Speeds from 30 cycles up to 150 cycles per minute.
  • Versatility and exceptional performance.
  • Available as stand alone continuous motion tray packers or can be integrated with a Contour shrink wrapper.

Working with Douglas Machine Inc.

Through technology, innovation and dedication, Douglas strives to enrich lives by providing differentiated packaging automation and services. Part of this service is to be the industry leader in the service and support that our employee owners provide to our customers. Throughout every facet of our company, we approach our work through the foundation of our core principles of unwavering integrity, continuous innovation and improvement, ownership spirit and servant’s heart. By doing so, our customers receive the peace-of-mind that no matter who they are working with in our organization, they are receiving dedicated and inspired service and support. By choosing Douglas Machine to build your case and tray packer, you’re getting much more than a top-of-the-line product. You’re also receiving a complete customer-driven experience to guide you throughout the process! Contact us today to discuss your application needs and to learn how our case and tray packers can provide the right solution.

What is Secondary Packaging?

A great way to think about secondary packaging, and its importance, is to remember an old industry phrase about secondary packaging that states: “Secondary packaging is the last thing on your mind, but the first thing your customer sees.”

Secondary packaging is intended to protect not only the product, but also the primary packaging of a product, which often is most visible to the consumer in the form of retail displays. Common examples of secondary packaging include cardboard cartons, cardboard boxes, cardboard/plastic crates, trays, paperboard cartons, shrink wrapped bundles, trayed PET bottles held with shrink wrap, taped or glued cardboard cartons containing cans of food, cans inside a paperboard carton, etc. Common case style examples are available in the documents linked below:

Primary packaging is the term used to designate the layer of packaging in immediate contact with the product. Think about primary packaging as the container in which the product is stored. For instance, the primary packaging of milk is typically a plastic gallon jug. Manufacturers determine their primary packaging with both the product and existing secondary layers of packaging in mind. Other examples of primary packaging include bottles, cans, wrappers, air-tight bags, etc.

Tertiary packaging is the third level of packaging, rarely seen by the customer. It relates to the shrink wrapped pallets used to transport products in bulk from manufacturers to the retailer, usually via distribution centers.

To visualize how all three levels of packaging work together, let’s take a look at canned corn. Corn is placed into cans (primary packaging). Then, those multiple cans are loaded into a carton (secondary packaging). The sealed cartons are positioned onto a pallet and shrink wrapped for distribution (tertiary packaging).

Secondary Packaging Enhances Product Visibility

Secondary packaging is an excellent way to reinforce your brand and enhance product visibility in a crowded marketplace. Whether you’re creating a rainbow pack or using printed shrink wrap, secondary packaging increases your opportunities for marketing your product, and appealing to consumers. Retail ready packaging can offer you the visibility you envisioned for your product. Open displays put you in control of how your product is able to reach your customers. Your brand is positioned front and center, directly in the line of sight of your customers, and drawing their attention. With a saturated and competitive market, you’ll need your products to draw your customer’s attention away from competitor’s products and onto your own.

Choosing the Right Type of Secondary Packaging

As a manufacturer, there are countless pieces of the packaging puzzle to manage, ranging from labor costs to raw material availability. As a distributor/reseller of products, the focus is often on packing or repacking the product as cost efficiently as possible so it arrives to the customer safely. In either case, typically little thought is given to the packaging materials used to pack and ship the order to the customer.

The box, tape or void fill material used on an order may not seem very important, but in many e-commerce situations, it is the very first, and perhaps only, tangible contact your company has with your customer. Your package and packaging has taken the place of a handshake, smile or even the friendly voice that we once received whenever we made a purchase. That is why many companies are now seizing this terrific opportunity to reinforce their message and brand to their customers, making sure the arrival of an eagerly awaited package is a positive and memorable experience.

It is even more critical if you are selling a green product to a green consumer. What we have learned from experience is that the green consumer scrutinizes everything coming into their home, including your packaging. Rarely does a week go by without a seller or shipper receiving a customer complaint such as “love the product, hate the packaging.”

Branded Secondary Packaging

In today’s world, very few companies offer an exclusive product that customers cannot find somewhere else on the internet. Even when companies offer competitive pricing, there is always someone out there selling the same product for less. In that competitive environment, everything becomes important and “good enough” often times is not. The best part of branding secondary packaging is that in most cases, it adds little or no cost.

We all try to make a good impression on our customers so they’ll remember us and want to come back to buy more of our products. An excellent first impression can lead to valuable repeat business. Whether you promote your company to be green, fast, or professional, your packaging can easily, and in most cases, inexpensively reinforce that positive message. If you are contemplating private branding for your packaging, do not hesitate to ask about a supplier’s capabilities and experience. And don’t forget to ask for samples too. A qualified potential supplier will be happy to show you the branding options available as well as examples of work they have done for others.

Secondary packaging is commonly created in the same facility where the primary packaging is created. Having it produced under one roof allows for a streamlined production and packaging process. This streamlining can significantly reduce labor time and costs. Adding secondary packaging can help adapt your products for the shipping process in a more cost-effective and efficient way. From initial product packaging to warehousing and re-palletizing at distribution center(s), secondary packaging must withstand varying degrees of handling in order to arrive at the end user location in perfect condition.

Secondary Packaging Machines from Douglas Machine Inc.

Secondary packaging equipment can be designed to operate in a variety of environments including clean rooms, dusty environments, wash down applications and refrigerated areas. Many factors are considered in determining the correct secondary packaging materials and packaging methods including primary packaging needs, material costs, environmental impact, distribution center processes and end user best practices.

Learn more about the secondary packaging machines that we manufacture for our customers here at Douglas. Let us know if you have additional questions that we can answer.

Rich in History … There’s More to the Story of Douglas Machine Inc.

We’re excited to announce the launch of our blog, and to welcome all who are reading it! Our goal is to share information with you about the secondary packaging industry that aims to inform, educate and excite! We hope you join us as we share topics and trends relevant to the packaging industry. By sharing our insight and approach to the industry, we hope to help bring you one step closer to making secondary packaging decisions that are right for your business and ones that will deliver success.  

Welcome to Douglas

What makes someone want to start a packaging company? How about $5 and a dream. It takes a lot of courage and a big dose of motivation to start a company with only a $5.00 sale. Bud Thoen did just that and founded Douglas Machine in 1964. Today Douglas has grown to over 600 employee owners. Working at Douglas is more than a job. It’s a career. We hope you stop by our blog regularly to learn about our rich history, learn about our industry and learn ways in which Douglas can do more for you.

Rich in History

Douglas was founded with a vision to invent and build exceptional automated packaging machinery. In 1966, Vern Anderson joined Bud. Later that year, the company sold its first machine to Curtis Candy Company for $6,476. From the very beginning, a deep appreciation for our customers’ ongoing trust has been the fuel that drives Douglas to be a great supplier. In the year 2000, Douglas became 100% employee owned, providing our employees with a vested interest in the company. Our growth and success are the result of our employees’ hard work and dedication to Bud’s vision of building innovative packaging machinery.

Mission and Values Add More to Our Story

Our employees are what makes our company strong. Douglas employees know they are valued and that they are vital in the success of the company. We have a strong mission and values that guide our company and employee owners.   Our mission is to enrich lives by providing differentiated packaging automation and services. We are able to do just that through our values. The core of our values is an abiding respect for biblically-based business principles. To us this means conducting business in a manner that is legal, ethical, moral and healthy to the faith-based spiritual life of every employee owner, customer, supplier and competitor. Our values are a testament to how we live our lives each work day.
  • Unwavering Integrity: We refuse to compromise our ethics and high professional standards in order to achieve desired outcomes.
  • Servant’s Heart: We possess a never-ending desire to serve and support others.
  • Ownership Spirit: Our passion for employee ownership is demonstrated in everything we do.
  • Continuous Innovation and Improvement: We challenge the status quo and strive for excellence in all our work.
We are dedicated to enriching the lives of our employee owners. Our outstanding team of employees care about each other, our customers and the community. At Douglas it’s not just what we do — it’s who we are.

Serving the Packaging Industry

For over 50 years, Douglas has built high-quality automated secondary packaging solutions for our customers. We are a global leader in providing solutions for corrugated, shrink film and paperboard materials. We specialize in the design and manufacture of case & tray packers, shrink wrap systems, cartoners, sleevers, multipackers and palletizers. Based in Alexandria, Minnesota, Douglas has installed more than 9,000 machines in over 30 countries. As a 100% employee-owned company, we are empowered to make decisions, take educated and calculated risks, and do what we feel is right to best serve our customers. Every day, we partner with our customers to be productive and save money through our continuous improvement solutions. We are driven each and every day to provide more solutions for our customers and for the industry. Douglas Technical Support provides unparalleled in-house, field technical support. Available 24 hours a day and 7 days a week, our experienced technicians provide you with superior knowledge and quick, clear responsiveness.

Serving the Community

Douglas employee-owners are proud of our community and genuinely care about those who live within it. In looking for a way to give back and improve the quality of life in this community, Douglas created The Douglas Machine Foundation. This foundation utilizes the philanthropic resources of Douglas Machine for community needs. The Foundation’s mission is to provide financial support to non-profit organizations that focus on community improvement through United Way, social services, education and various faith-based initiatives. Douglas Machine’s Community Stewardship encompasses all aspects of its philanthropy including Foundation contributions, volunteerism and in-kind gifts

Caring for our Employees

Our employees matter … and so does their health. To provide quality care for our employees and their families, we established Douglas Health, our very own company clinic. Douglas Health is a clinic exclusive to Douglas Machine employees, spouses and dependent family members participating in their employee health plan or for employees that have elected clinic coverage through Douglas. The clinic enriches lives through health and wellness by offering a personal level of quality care, affordable services and convenience … all just for our employees! The greatest benefit to our employees and their families is that the trusted and professional healthcare experts at Douglas Health not only provide quality healthcare, they can offer their onsite services without the high price tag most people are experiencing today. A sampling of the services provided onsite, at no cost, are wellness and health maintenance, chronic care, simple acute care, lab testing, and prescription medication.

Employee Owners Caring for You

Pride of ownership is our way of ensuring that nobody works harder to give you more. Working with Douglas, you’ll experience an entire organization that’s committed to exceeding your expectations. In every aspect of your relationship with us, you will experience 100% commitment to a partnership that ensures your brand is represented with quality, integrity and pride. You’ll experience more friendly and responsive attitudes, more dedication to quality and craftsmanship, and more uncompromising customer support .You’ll quickly discover that nobody does it like Douglas. We invite you to check back in with us and read our blog on a regular basis. We want to partner with you, serve you and learn with you. Contact us today for all of your secondary packaging needs. At Douglas, we are Employee Owned. Customer Driven.