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Selecting a tray for your soft gel encapsulation machine is a big decision. Choose right and you will save yourself money in the long term while achieving enhanced operational capability. Choose incorrectly and you will find yourself having to bear the cost of replacing the trays in the not-too-distant future.

But where do you start? Take a look at our guide and learn more about the features you need to be looking out for as you select the right tray for your facility.

1. Cost-effective options

Purchasing trays for your soft gel machine is an investment like any other. As such, it makes sense that you want to keep your costs as low as possible to avoid going over budget at your facility. But the cheapest option is not usually the most cost-effective option. In fact, if you make your decision based on price alone, you are likely to end up spending more money down the line, as you are forced to replace substandard pieces.

Don’t compromise on the efficacy of your trays. Look at all of the other features on this list and then select the product that can provide you with all of this at the best possible price. A good-quality soft gel tray should not break the bank, but you should still focus on gaining the peace of mind that comes from choosing the right tray for your purposes.

2. Composite materials

The material of your tray is a crucial consideration. The lowest-cost trays are often made from plastic, and these will do the job at lower temperatures and with a lighter workload. However, if your facility demands more from your trays, plastic simply isn’t going to be up to the task. Other materials may boost more impressive pressure, temperature, and workload operational capabilities but may carry a higher price.

Composite materials are the best option for many businesses. Trays made from this material are relatively low-cost and will see you spending only a little bit more than if you had opted for the low-quality plastic option. However, they are tough, robust, and durable, helping you to reduce long-term costs by remaining in great condition for longer.

3. Stackability

It’s important that you are able to manage, store, and transport your trays at scale. What’s more, you need to be able to achieve all of this without putting the tray’s contents at risk. Spillages and losses cost your facility money and can put your teams and other personnel at risk. You need to be able to rely upon your trays during the whole process as they are transported throughout your facilities.

Stackability is a big part of this. You need to be able to stack your trays on top of one another for easy storage and movement, reducing the logistical headache of managing materials within your facility. What’s more, being able to stack between 50-60 tray units safely greatly increases drying capacity. Increasing the number of soft gels you can dry at any one time helps to secure high ROI from the manufacturing process.

Take a look at user reviews and feedback from other entities in your industry and road-test the trays where possible to make sure they can provide this.

4. Structural integrity

The stackability we have touched on above is going to be just as crucial six months, or even six years, down the line, as it is today. With this in mind, you need to invest in a product that is not going to become warped or misshapen over time, rendering storage and transport difficult. You also need to think about the usability of each individual tray — even if they are not being stacked, your soft gel trays need to remain strong enough to keep their contents safe from harm, despite repeated uses.

This is why it’s critical to utilize trays that can withstand high temperatures, impacts, and repeated usage without beginning to degrade. When trays are being washed after use, they may need to withstand temperatures as high as 250° Fahrenheit. If this puts the tray in danger of damage, then the tray might not be the right one for your business.

5. Non-stick surfaces

We have already mentioned cleaning, and of course, this is a big part of what makes a tray suitable for your organization. You need to be able to clean the trays easily, removing any residual material and removing the possibility of contamination or other mishaps.

Look for tray surfaces that are rated as non-stick and easy-clean so that you don’t have to worry about any cleaning and maintenance-related issues during your operation.

6. Compatibility with existing equipment

You already have soft gel encapsulation machines and other technological solutions in place at your facility. These are expensive pieces and you need to make sure that you can keep on using this infrastructure in the long term. It makes sense, then, that you would choose gel trays that are compatible with these equipment pieces.

Look for tray sizes, heat and pressure thresholds, and other key specifications to make sure that you can use your new trays with your existing equipment. In most cases, you should have no problem finding suitable trays if you take a careful look at the specs list and weigh this up against your equipment specs.

7. Long lifespan

How long do you expect your trays to last? Ideally, you need a tray that is going to give you many years of great quality service, reducing the costs associated with replenishing your stock.

The leading trays on the market have an average lifespan of around 20 years, which gives you and your business plenty of time to get a solid return on your investment. While this average will not be guaranteed, methodical testing and analysis will give you a good indication of how long your trays will last.

Take your time and find the right tray for your purposes

Choosing a tray for your soft gel machine might be low down on your list of priorities, but it is worth taking time over the decision. After all, you may need to invest in a large number of trays, so you need to be sure you’ve made the right choice. Assess the capabilities of the tray against your own expectations and the needs of your business.