Can Your Water Activated Tape Dispenser Make a Sustainable Difference?

03 Mar 2009 Can Your Water Activated Tape Dispenser Make a Sustainable Difference?

Sustainability in packaging is not just about recyclability, recycled content or the carbon footprint left behind by the manufacturer of the particular packaging product. Especially in today’s tough economy it is increasingly about using less. People who follow this blog know we are big fans of paper – a prime example is water activated tape, because it is very recyclable and makes the corrugated box it is applied to even greener. In addition compared to plastic tape, it usually does a better job of securing the box closed for storage or shipment, with less tape used!

We believe the selection of a water activated tape dispenser is a critical decision that has long term consequences both in terms of labor, and packaging material usage. Customers and prospects are often surprised by the cost difference between a good manual WAT dispenser and an electric one. We offer one of the best in each category, competitively priced at $395 for the manual unit and $995 for the high efficiency electric model.

What’s the Difference?

water activated tape dispenser, manualThe lower cost mechanical unit features a crank handle the operator pulls to deliver the right tape length. The machine has a numbered scale on it so if the operator pulls the handle to the number “14” and the machine will dispense an approximately 14” length of tape. What this unit does do incredibly well to justify its $395 price tag, is it applies an even coating of water across the entire width and length of tape. There is a reason this type of paper tape is called “water activated” so when manual in function, it is “automatically” performing a very important function.

water activated tape dispenser, electricThe electric model essentially does the same thing but instead of a crank handle and number scale to determine the tape length, it features buttons each programmed to automatically deliver an exact length of tape to the operator.

Justifying the $600 Cost Difference

The electric model offers several distinct advantages that make its $995 price tag a bargain, IF you have the volume to justify its higher initial cost. The electric WAT dispenser has advantages in these key areas:

  • Speed – It is push button so the operator does not have to visually and manually determine the tape length he/she needs. This amount of time saved is not tremendous but understandably it becomes more important as the box volume increases.
  • Precision – Since the length is electrically determined rather than visually and mechanically, the correct length of tape is always delivered to the operator. This makes a substantial difference in how the case looks, if eco consistency and first impressions are important to you.
  • Less wasteful – Speed and precision come together to create a reduction of material used. An operator can try to be very precise with a manual machine but that usually makes them slower. Conversely, as they increase speed, they tend to get a little wasteful in terms of the amount of tape that is used. As volume increases, waste is usually one of the end results of increased production.
  • Security – The “tape leg” is the amount of tape that is applied to the two vertical sides, or the ends of a taped box. The ideal length of those tape legs is two to three inches. Anything less is not enough and may not keep the top major flaps closed and anything more is probably a waste. The electric tape dispenser delivers the correct length each and every time, preventing under taping or the application of a second strip of tape due to under taping.

The relative importance and impact of these differences really depend on the number of cases that are shipped or sealed on a daily basis. If the number is 50 cases or less, it is unlikely the benefits of an electric machine would be worth the additional cost. If that number is 200 cases per day, the justification is fairly easy.

Also, please keep in mind that there are usually incentives and promotions available. We routinely offer a discount on tape dispensers to our tape customers and at this time (March ‘09) there is even a factory sponsored promotion offering free tape dispensers for new printed tape customers. If you have not been exposed to the many benefits of printed water activated tape, please look through our post archives, because the benefits are real and numerous, and we have written several posts on the subject –

Sustainable Packaging and Branding on a Budget

Best Advertising Deal in Town? Printed Secondary Packaging

Sustainable Reasons to Use Paper Box Sealing Tape

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