John Henry

John Henry has worked in packaging since 1976 and is known as the go-to guy for information on packaging machinery. He is the author of the “Packaging Machinery Handbook” and “Secrets of Buying Packaging Machinery” and has authored more than 60 related articles in the trade press. At his consultancy,, Henry focuses on helping manufacturers reduce downtime and improve operating efficiency. Got a question, comment, or column idea? He can be reached at


  • Your Carton Is Your Food Packaging’s Life!

    If your product is sold in a carton, it's one of your most important marketing tools. It is what your customer sees in the store and on the kitchen shelf. Your carton is worth its weight in gold and needs to be treated as such because a good-looking carton sells your product. A poor-looking one may deter consumers and end up being the reason they choose your competitor's product. I'll leave it up to the graphic-arts types to handle the aesthetics. In this article I will address some of the physical aspects that can detract from your carton's appearance.

  • Packaging Machine Speed Is Easy, Capacity Is Difficult, Output Is Hard

    Packaging machine speed is easy to calculate. Just count products out, divide by time, and you have instantaneous speed per minute. In theory, you should be able to multiply by 480 to get output per shift. In reality, that instantaneous speed probably doesn't match shift output. During the shift, the machine may have stopped. That may be because the operators went to lunch, because the upstream or downstream machine stopped, because it had its own problems, or a host of other reasons. What you are really interested in is output: how many pallets can you get on the truck at the end of the day? This is related to speed, but is not the same thing.

  • How Much Does That Packaging Machine Cost?

    This sounds like a simple question, no? Don't be fooled; it is actually a quite complex one and you need to know that if you don't know how much a machine costs, it is very easy to spend too much money on one.

  • Key Factors Of Successful Packaging Design

    "Nothing happens until somebody sells something." I forget where I heard this expression, but it's stuck with me. Package design is a large part of selling and marketers must always have the last word in design. On the other hand, price is also a key success factor. Even small price reductions can really goose sales, and package design can have a big impact.

  • What To Consider When Choosing Inline Coding And Printing Technologies For Packaging

    There are two main types of non-contact coder: Laser and ink jet. Inkjet printers work by depositing ink on the surface of the substrate. Laser coders work by removing ink from or affecting the surface of the substrate. Laser coders do not use ink or toner and should not be confused with desktop laser printers; they are a completely different technology.

  • The Pros And Cons Of Contact Coding Technologies In Packaging

    In my last article, I discussed package and product coding in general terms. Now, I want to get into the nuts and bolts. There are two classes of coders: contact and non-contact. As the name implies, contact coders make physical contact with the package, such as a label. Non-contact coders do not. Both technologies are available in formats that can be used inline or off and for continuous or intermittent operation. This article will discuss common contact coding technologies with pros and cons. A subsequent article will discuss non-contact coding technologies.

  • The Role Of Inline Coding And Printing In Food Packaging

    Virtually all food products need two types of information on the packaging and occasionally on the product itself. First is fixed information which does not change from day to day. Fixed information includes product name, UPC barcode, instructions, and more. The other is variable information that changes on a day-to-day or lot-to-lot basis.

  • Pucks: Not Just For Unstable Bottles

    Pucks are common in the cosmetics industries, particularly fragrances, where they are needed to hold odd shaped bottles. Highly finished bottles are sometimes run in pucks to keep them from getting scuffed by guide rails or other bottles on the line. Pucks with metal inserts are be used with a magnetic conveyor to carry aerosol cans through a water bath to check for propellant leaks.

  • What Is OEE, How Do You Determine It, And What Should You Do With It?

    It's a simple concept, but an ongoing challenge; you need to do more with less. Your customers, the ones who pay hard-earned cash for your products, tell you so daily. You know in your gut that constantly improving efficiency is the only way you can stay ahead of your competition. Every day is do or die. Every little bit is important. Too many people look at a couple points gained and think "Peanuts. It can't amount to much in the overall scheme of things." Wrong. Each 2 percent point gain adds an extra week, or more, of annual production for free.

  • Choose Dry-Filling Method To Match Product Needs

    Many food products are dry and these present problems. The problems may not be more difficult filling problems than “not liquid” products but, at least the very least, they are different ones. This article will explain the process of choosing a dry-filling method based on your product type.