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Robotic Automation Makes Stack Prep Process Consistent and Repeatable

Written by Susan Marshal, General Manager at Edson

In the converted paper industry, as well as many other manufacturing sectors, there are more open jobs than people available to fill them. This is leading companies to explore new ways to deal with the labor shortage, including taking a strong look at what automation can do for them.

For years many small- to medium-sized converted paper manufacturers have relied on a hand-packing setup to fill and seal cases…and traditionally that has worked. But in today’s environment where employees can afford to be more selective and demand a more challenging career, finding enough people to staff hand-packing lines is a daily challenge.

The popular answer for many manufacturers is to automate much of their end-of-line packaging operations. While this has proven to be a winning strategy, one area that automation tended to overlook was the case stack infeed station.

Well, not anymore.

Edson, a manufacturer of case and tray packing solutions for the converted paper, diaper, and nonwoven markets, has developed its new KDF (knocked down flat) Infeed Management System, which completely automates the case stack prep area of a line. The KDF system was developed in direct response to customers looking to integrate automation into more aspects of their packaging operations. Automating the case stack prep process frees up an operator to other areas of production where their skills can be put to better use.


Consistency and repeatable performance are two advantages AML (Automated Machine Loading) brings to the case stack prep process. First, the KDF Infeed Management System barcode scanner prepares and validates the proper stack for the case packer. It cuts and removes the packing bands and dunnage, as well as the stack labels used in transportation.

It then squares the stacks and properly orientates them to the case packer. This process repeats so there are stacks waiting on the conveyor, maximizing efficiency, and mitigating delays that can occur when done manually. The system can accept stacks delivered by fork trucks, clamp trucks, and automated/laser-guided vehicles, making it a versatile addition to the case packing line.


The key ROI for any automated system is labor reduction, and the KDF Infeed Management System delivers on that goal by freeing up an operator to be relocated to other areas of production where their skills can be better utilized. Removing the human element from the equation increases accuracy. That’s because when prepping cases manually, labels and dunnage may not be removed, or the stack is positioned incorrectly; this can also cause unwanted downtime while equipment waits for an operator to prepare a stack. Automating the infeed area of a packaging line is a complete solution to eliminate human error, increase efficiency, and greatly reduce downtime.

The KDF Infeed Management System is the first of its kind in the paper packing industry, delivering steady, repeatable performance to the infeed process. It pairs well with Edson’s offering of case packers and other end-of-line machinery, as well as equipment from other OEMs. Its applications are not limited to paper and can be customized to fit the needs of the customer and industry.


Removing the human element from prepping cases removes the threat of injury. Manually handling cases means operators are constantly bending, reaching, pushing, and placing strain on all areas of their bodies. It is only a matter of time until this repetitive work leads to fatigue, pain, and injury.

Because the KDF Infeed Management System reallocates the operator, thus eliminating the possibility of injury, lost production, medical bills, and workers’ compensation claims. AML makes a substantial impact to a company’s bottom line by removing these often-hidden costs associated with manufacturing. Again, moving staff to other areas that are safer and more conducive to challenging their skills, it’s a win-win situation for everyone involved.

New automation like the KDF Infeed Management System is not just a capital investment, it’s an investment in employees. Companies embracing automation demonstrate that they’re progressive and are ready to meet the market demands of the converted paper industry head-on. It also attracts prospective employees who are looking for a company that embraces technology and keeps worker safety at the forefront.


To combat labor shortages, improve efficiencies and deliver a strong ROI, the KDF Infeed Management System is living up to these promises and more. The trend toward automation shows no signs of slowing down; it’s only picking up.

A final piece to the automation equation is selecting the right supplier – one that pays attention to market trends and responds with practical solutions to add accuracy, speed, and efficiency to the end-of-line; a supplier that will be there long after the sale is completed. That’s the Edson difference that shines in its KDF Infeed Management System and all its packaging solutions.

Susan Marshall is the General Manager at Edson

She can be reached at:



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