With more brands embracing the benefits of stand-up pouches, it’s no surprise that this flexible format is more popular than ever.
Pouches are a fan favorite in industries like snack foods and cannabis products. Still, they are also breaking the mold in established sectors like household supplies, tech components, pharmaceuticals, and more.
The advantages of stand-up pouches are apparent to any brand that uses them, but implementing this packaging type raises some practical questions.
For example, what is the best way to fill stand-up pouches for the most efficient and effective packaging process, and which methods work best for various product types?
This article explores the main ways to fill stand-up pouches and offers best practices for everything from snacks and supplies to more delicate components and specialty items.
With this information, you can confidently package your products with the proper techniques while trusting the packaging solutions that customers love.
1. Manual Filling Products
A manual filling approach is often advised when packaging products in stand-up pouches. This might be due to the product type, which could be more sensitive, delicate, or require precise counting that a machine can’t process.
Manual filling is often necessary for businesses just starting out because of limited funding and resources since automated equipment can cost thousands of dollars to purchase and maintain.
Thankfully, manual filling doesn’t have to be incredibly labor intensive with the proper techniques and pouches that allow easy filling and sealing.
Let’s see which products are best suited for manual filling and some tips to keep in mind when packaging large amounts in a systematized way.
Specialty Foods and Ingredients
Some of the world’s favorite foods are homemade goods and treats from small kitchens and makeshift factory settings. In fact, you’ll notice that many popular brands started with the manual packaging approach, whether it’s jars of salsa, bags of chips, or cannabis gummy edibles.
The founders and owners did the work before the business took off, so they know about manually filling bags and pouches. Manual processes are often preferred if products are delicate or must maintain a specific structure, even at higher volumes.
Saffron, for example, is one of the most expensive spices in the world, with the real deal costing up to $10,000 per kilogram. Therefore, packagers must use extreme caution when sorting, weighing, and loading each pouch to ensure that best practices are strictly followed.
Food products and consumables require a high degree of cleanliness and sanitation, along with any personal protective gear and frequent scrubbing of surfaces.
The more perishable the products, the more attention you need to give to cleaning trays, tongs, scoopers, and other tools that come with the territory.
Workers should follow a clear order of operations when loading pouches and reference standard procedures to maximize efficiency. It may help to open the pouches first by unfolding the gusset so that it stands on its own for filling.
Precise Dosage Products
Many food products go by weight or simply the “ballpark” approach when dealing in smaller homemade batches. That changes when it comes to products like supplements and drugs, which are held to a higher legal standard of organization and labeling.
Whether it’s a custom skincare product or a supplement from herbs in the garden, be sure to have exact measurement methods before manually filling pouches.
This might require using an industrial-size scale with lightweight trays that allow you to scoop and sort capsules or powders without losing track of amounts.
When manually filling products for precise dosages, the stakes are higher, so many companies opt for an automated approach. Still, the manual methodology is viable with strict practices and trusted employees, so use all possible tools and safeguards to your advantage.
Tech Components, Collectibles, and More
Non-consumable products might seem easier to fill because they’re not perishable and less regulated, but owners still need a focused approach to filling pouches and bags no matter what.
Technical components are now packaged more commonly in flexible materials, including batteries, switches, cords, wires, cables, plugs, and transistors. The list of tech supplies is endless, and they must be loaded with care, even if they have a reputation for resilience.
The same rules apply to collectibles like toys, figurines, and other types of memorabilia enjoyed by both kids and adults.
These might be filled-in bags but require additional care regarding handling for the supply chain journey. Extra padding or air might be required in the pouch to ensure a safe trip.
2. Automated Filling Products
Automation might raise an eyebrow for many brands since it typically comes with a high price tag and a shake-up to the workforce. However, sorting, filling, and sealing equipment is more attainable than ever, appearing in many sizes and formats with financing options.
In other words, achieving a more automated bag-filling process for your brand is possible as long as you know which steps to prioritize and maintain best practices throughout the process. Here are some product types that can benefit and which machines work best.
Dry Foods and Snacks
With dry consumable goods and snacks, brands deal with everything from oatmeal and dried pasta to meat jerky, candies, and much more.
Because these products are typically packaged by weight, machines can be programmed to release a certain amount of material into a bag before it is sealed and shipped off.
A popular type of machine for this process is called a vibratory weigh-filling machine, which uses multiple vibrating trays to automate the controlled distribution of a certain amount of material into a staging area for bag loading.
Spices and Bulk Ingredients
Automation can also benefit brands packaging spices and other bulk ingredients, such as flour, salt, sugar, health supplement powders, and more.
These may involve more complex formulations and require more steps to keep machinery accurate, functional, and clean throughout many production cycles.
These products may be best organized with powder-filling machines, including a spiral feeding mechanism that works for both free-flowing and non-free-flowing powdered products.
Creams, Sauces, Condiments
Liquids are a less common choice in the world of stand-up pouches, but they’re catching on with certain products like condiments, sauces, and other consumables.
Many semi-liquid products like pickles and sauerkraut are commonly packaged in flex packs since fermentation allows for the safe expansion of the packaging.
In these cases, brands can choose from a range of manual, semi-automatic, and fully-automatic liquid filling machines, which use various conveyors, circular stations, pistons, and nozzles to ensure the accurate filling of each bag.
What Types of Seals, Closures, and Displacements Are There?
Filling pouches is just one step in the packaging process. Strong seals and closures must be ensured to ensure freshness and maximize the product’s security before shipping. Here are some closure methods and tools commonly used with flex pack formats.
Manual Air Removal and Seal
Simply applying pressure to the pouch after filling it will force most of the air out the top, followed by a manual seal with a zip-lock or other method.
It may seem crude, but it’s not a significant setback in most circumstances unless the product requires extremely precise conditions.
Vacuum Seal Methods
When manual sealing becomes too strenuous or infeasible due to volume, vacuum seal methods become more appealing. This involves a vacuum seal mechanism that sucks air from the interior of the pouch while preserving the contents and ensuring a balanced internal atmosphere for shipping.
For sensitive perishable products, vacuum seals offer convenience and better conditions for large-scale production runs.
Nitrogen Flush Methods
Adding a blast of nitrogen can “puff” a pouch for extra volume and internal protection when products need an extra boost for the supply chain journey.
This approach may also offer extra freshness, which can help extend shelf life and improve customer satisfaction upon opening.
Heat Seal Methods
Heat seals are increasingly common in the flexible packaging world since they offer a definitive layer of protection for all products before shipping. Heat seals can be done manually or by machine, based on the package type, and the volume required.
By heat sealing, customers and retailers get the assurance of a tamper-proof seal, knowing that the products will be pristine and protected before they tear it open.
This is considered a best practice in most industries, so some form of heat sealing will be expected if your brand is ready to compete at scale.
Stand-Up Pouches You Can Trust From Dymapak
There’s a lot to consider when approaching a topic that seems so simple on the surface.
Filling pouches and bags is a significant part of your product cycle, so ensure you have the proper procedures, tools, equipment, and protections to ensure safety and efficiency.
Of course, the quality of your packaging solutions also makes a difference, so always get the best-in-class pouches and bags for your product type. Dymapak delivers high-quality Mylar and polyethylene pouches, helping your operations go smoothly and keeping customers happy at every level.