Contact Us On: 01773 820415 or Enquire Online

PTO Bags for Manual Packaging Ops

Did you ever hear that famous story about Walnut Whips?

Invented over a century ago, the delicious confection was made entirely by hand. That was until national (and eventually global) conglomerates acquired the brand, supplanting the skilled factory workers with faster, more accurate machines. But legend has it that the skill required to fix the walnut atop the chocolate cone – the essence of the Walnut Whip – simply could not be achieved by the machines.

There were too many variables; the setting speed of the chocolate, the natural shape of the walnut, the angle of placement… The simple robots of those days couldn’t compute or adapt fast enough the way a human can. And so, that little job remained manual, with workers employed solely to place walnuts on the whips.

Of course, this is just a story – one that our teachers used to love telling us. We’re not sure how much of it is true, because as far as we can tell, the process actually is automated, or at least it is now. There’s a highly specialised machine built to do it.

But there is a note that does ring true in the tale. Because for all the automation and AI in the world, there are still so many jobs that only humans can do. One of these is packaging for highly variable or sensitive products. We all know that manual packaging tends to be less efficient and productive than automated packaging, but sometimes, there’s no other choice.

And that’s why people like us are always developing new ways of making the hard bits easier, and the slow bits faster when it comes to manual packaging operations. One of those seemingly simple solutions is PTOs – perforated tear off bags.


A manual packaging line where PTO bags would be used. A large number of people are packaging apples on a conveyor belt


What are PTO bags?

Cast your memory back to the days pre-pandemic – back to the days of supermarket fruit and veg bags. Remember those? They were super light duty polythene bags, with just enough transparency to see what was inside. By the end of their reign, they’d usually come out of a box – pre-cut, and ready to use one-handed.

Go back further still, maybe to the 90s or 2000s (if you’re old enough that is), and those veg bags would have been polythene bags on a roll, joined together with an easy to tear perforation in between individual bags.

Essentially, those were just polythene perforated tear off bags. But those PTOs had a specific use case – consumer handling at supermarkets. PTOs for specialist and highly time-critical applications were also developed, largely for manual packaging operations – and these custom made PTO bags are still widely used today.

Quick, quality packaging in manual operations

PTO bags have a ton of uses – and not just as bags! The speed and easy access to a fixed-size unit of polythene film is a big attraction, giving them multiple uses in packaging lines. For example, PTOs can be used as polythene box liners as well as product bags, and as moisture and dust covers for finished boxes.

PTOs are used as retail bags, food-grade bags and even as polythene mailer bags in operations where versatility and speed are the most important factors. They can also become refuse bags in a pinch – certainly saves on having to buy the staff room bin bags, at least!

Time-critical packaging

There are other applications for PTOs, where quick access and convenience are a must; we’re talking about hazardous waste bags and medical packaging, specifically. These are scenarios where speed is priority number one – where safety is at stake, and where no corners can be cut in getting the result you need.

Read more: How To Speed Up Your Packaging Operations

PTOs are super-fast to use. Simply dispense, tear and use. In a medical emergency, or when you’re handling hazardous materials, you don’t want to be messing around with bags in boxes or some other unreliable dispensing method. Speed and reliability are key.

In logistics and time-critical delivery operations, PTOs as mailer bags can mean the difference between delivering on time and missing targets.

It’s all about speed, you see. But it doesn’t have to be slap-dash. In fact, we’ve been providing custom-made PTOs to clients in a wide range of sectors for years – creating bespoke, professional solutions designed for the job at hand.

Our polythene PTO bags are available in thicknesses from ultra light duty up to super heavy duty, in any custom polymer blend and colour you can imagine – with printing available.

Speed Up Your Packaging Ops – with NPF Packaging

Professional packaging solutions, custom-designed for your business. Get a quote now, or call us on 01773 820415.