Packaging is one of the last areas in many businesses, including warehouses, to be automated. This is because packaging often seems too complex or expensive to automate. However, advances in technology are making it possible to automate specific packaging tasks, while the return on investment makes it a great use of your capital equipment budget. Here are five reasons you should be automating your packaging line right now.
Reduced Labor Costs
Automation will reduce your labor costs. This can save money in a variety of ways. For example, a good case erector means you won’t have to pull people away from value added tasks to set up boxes for production.
Case erectors will allow you to eliminate people spending time setting up boxes instead of manning assembly lines or handling shipping and packing tasks that can’t be automated. You’ll certainly eliminate unplanned overtime to set up boxes to fill a massive order. A side benefit of the fast, automated process is that you won’t have to deal with piles of empty boxes waiting to be filled, reducing the space your operations waste. You could get rid of your pre-assembly areas as well.
You also won’t waste time training people to set up or wrap boxes. Then you have fewer skills to teach to new hires, and you get the team members up to speed faster, improving their effectiveness.
The greatest benefit of automation is increased efficiency. One point in favor of automating is that the cost of automated packaging equipment like palletizers is a fraction of what they were five years ago, but the smarter systems can run faster and handle a wider range of products than older models. The machine can often combine tasks, as well, such as weighing items after wrapping them.
This dramatically increases the return on investment for the automated system, and that’s before you take the faster processing times into account. For example, a case erector can match the output of three skilled laborers but does so at a lower annual cost. You’ll be able to eliminate the bottleneck in your taper or pack-out stations. A well-designed system of conveyors, fill systems, tapers, labelers, erectors and palletizers could match the speed of your production line. Then you’ll increase your overall output.
Reduced Error Rates
Automated packaging systems are very reliable. They’ll do the job the same way every time as long as they are maintained. You don’t have to worry about a varying quality of work based on who is on shift that day. The system can also be adapted for a variety of products, so there won’t be mistakes setting up larger boxes or loading items in a new configuration. Some automated systems can even change their own tooling to meet the needs of a new task. This makes it much easier to handle the different standards for packaging of items sent to retailers versus consumers.
Reduced Material Costs
Automating packaging operations can reduce your material costs. New machines use less stretch film than older ones, and they may use much less than your team members. Modern advanced stretch wrap machines will use exactly the right amount of engineered films, improving load integrity while minimizing material usage. Greater consistency results in lower scrap and rework rates.
Businesses of all sizes can take advantage of automation to reduce labor, material and other costs. They will also improve their output and overall quality level.