When we announced our new HQ in Butner, North Carolina, the best word we had to describe our new space was BIG. And guess what? Using that space to create Nuggets requires some equally gigantic, ginormous, gobsmackingly gargantuan — in other words, big — machines. In this series, we’re going behind-the-scenes to learn more about the Big Machines of Nugget HQ. Today’s feature: the box erector and sealer.
Our machines pull a lot of weight at HQ. We have our extendoveyer to ease the hard work of moving massive amounts of foam around the facility, and the burrito dropper to propel wrapped Nuggets up, up, and away to their future homes. But what about the other important part of every Nugget shipment — the Big Orange Box?
Meet the Dream Team
No tour of HQ is complete without seeing these custom machines near the end of the production line: the box erector and sealer. The Big Orange Boxes are shipped to our HQ in flat stacks, and before shipment, each box needs to be built out, prepped for its burrito delivery, and sealed up nice and neat.
At our last factory, we were only able to construct 600 boxes (hey, that’s still a lot!) in a single day. We used to place a flat Big Orange Box on a spinning angled platform, kind of like a lazy Susan, to build out one side of the box, tape, and spin to complete the other side. While it was fun for each box that got a ride on their very own Tilt-a-Whirl, we needed a way to boost box set-up speeds.
Ta-da… here comes the dream team, with the ability to construct and seal more than 2,000 boxes per day!
The Box Erector
The first half of the dream team is the box erector. This custom machine is loaded up with flat Big Orange Boxes placed vertically in a receiving tray, kind of like a printer. Everything happens seamlessly: the box at the front of the line is grabbed by suction arms, which pull the box through guiding lanes as the bottom flaps are popped into place, kind of like a pop up book! The box is then moved down the line across a tape head that seals the bottom of the box. We have helpful sensors along the conveyor belt that inform the box erector if we have enough or need more at any given moment, which helps us with pacing and consistency.
These boxes are now ready for the burrito dropper, where Nuggets are dropped into Big Orange Boxes and then sent to the second half of the dream team: the box sealer.
The Box Sealer
This last step before Nuggets leave HQ is important, for many reasons. A Nuggeteer works at the box sealer station to place an instruction card in the box, confirm that everything is Certified Nuggety, and add the shipping label, which tells the mailman where to deliver that particular Nugget (maybe your house?).
The box sealer then applies one last strip of tape across the top of the box and presto, change-o, that Nugget is ready for its trip to its new home! We love this dream team at HQ. Our boxes are quite tall and skinny, making maneuvering them throughout the day an arduous task for our team. With these machines, we can both lessen the physical demands on our team while making more and more Nuggets!
There are a lot of moving parts to making, packaging, and shipping Nuggets from HQ to homes across the country. Our Big Machines series will walk you through how we’ve been able to scale up our production since moving to HQ in Butner. Find past editions of Big Machines on our BIG blog, visit our Instagram for more HQ video, and keep your eyes peeled for more info soon!