The capabilities that technology has given to every industry have taken us to unchartered land in many arenas. When looking specifically at packaging, technological advancements have made all of the processes smarter, faster, and more efficient.
We asked our packaging automation experts to talk to us about what companies need to know to bring automation to their packaging line and here’s what we gathered.
The Benefits of Automated Packaging
The current economic conditions have resulted in tight labor markets and rapidly rising labor costs. Businesses are being squeezed by other creeping expenses too, such as freight increasing more than 25% over the past 5 years. Simultaneously, competition from both domestic and international sources is evolving faster and disrupting traditional business practices. The packaging process is an ideal area to search for savings that can mitigate cost increases in other areas. Due to corporate tax reform in 2018 the conditions are ideal for businesses to consider investing in equipment that can automate packaging and reallocate labor.
Partnering with a packaging supplier that employs Automation Specialists is critical. A specialist can guide businesses to the proper equipment that will achieve a strong return on investment. Most equipment purchases will pay for themselves in 3 to 9 months. For example, an automatic case erector can assemble 9 times as many cases as an employee working with their hands. ln some cases the equipment will lower the cost of consumable packaging products too. Tape machines typically use 30% less tape than manual dispensers and stretch wrap machines can optimize wrap patterns to lower film cost by up to 75%.
If a company has stacks of pre-made boxes near packaging points, multiple packaging stations, employees hand taping boxes or employees hand wrapping pallets then it would be wise for them to consult with an Automation Specialist. Below are guidelines on packages per day to create a return on investment within 6 to 9 months for common types of equipment.
Tape Machines: 250 boxes per day.
Case Erector: 500 boxes per day.
Microjet Printer: 500 printed labels or 500 printed boxes per day.
Stretch Wrap Machine: 20 pallets per day.
Auto-bagger: 500 bags per day.
Bubble-on-Demand: 300 boxes per day.
Void Fill Machines (Air Pillows or Paper): 200 boxes per day.
*In most cases bubble-on-demand and void fill equipment will be loaned at no charge with a supply agreement.
Meeting Production Expectations
The advancements that we have seen in technology in the last 8 years have happened from productivity gain and have subsequently led to expansion across the industry. Packaging touches everything – every industry is connected to packaging in one way or another. With this vast impact, productivity is key to growth in the US.
In the beginning of the decade we put people behind productivity. We continued to add more and more labor resources to reach the production numbers that were in demand. Now we know we don’t have enough labor resources to meet productivity expectations. With rising population and consumerism, the need to meet production numbers is paramount. If a company can’t produce enough to meet consumer demands, the trajectory of the company is headed toward closing.
To help meet the growing numbers and demands, we have moved toward automating the end of the line. In order to meet demands of the product, companies are forced to increase productivity. While many people fear that automation will take jobs away from people, the truth is actually the opposite. On the other hand, automation tends to mean that things that are done mechanically are improved, and things that were traditionally impossible because of human restrictions are now possible.