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#PACKAGINGKNOWLEDGE
THE ULTIMATE PACKAGING  AUTOMATION GUIDE

Converting to an automated packaging system can save you time and money. 

DO ANY OF THESE SOUND FAMILIAR?


  • Your packaging line can’t keep up with your production rates.
  • You’re experiencing bottlenecks in your packaging area, causing ripple effects up the line.
  • You’re struggling to keep up with customer demand.
  • You’re so dependent on manual labor that one employee missing their shift affects your entire day’s production schedule.
  • Packaging is sloppy and reports of product damage are rising.
  • Packaging quality goes down as shifts progress.
  • Packaging supplies are taking up too much space in your facility.
  • You’ve got workers suffering from repetitive strain injuries.
  • You’re losing both product and profit.

With costs increasing daily, how can you stay competitive? You need to increase your throughput while reducing costs at the same time. Trying to do more with fewer resources may seem counterintuitive, but that's the way of American manufacturing. With imports arriving daily that are produced for much less, American companies must seek new and innovative methods to stay competitive and profitable in the constantly evolving world economy.


THE BASICS

When it comes to purchasing, customer satisfaction is relative to the size and price of the products that are shipped. The more money a client spends, the more likely they are to be concerned about the potential for damage. And knowing that they can return a product will do nothing to alleviate the anxiety and negativity they will feel should they need to exercise that capability.

End-of-line package automation is the new packaging buzzword for good reason. Automation saves time and money while decreasing product damages caused by transit hazards. With automation, you use fewer materials, ensure a cleaner application, and, at the same time, remove some of labor intensive aspects of packaging.

THE CUSTOMER IS ALWAYS RIGHT

Consumers have fairly simple and reasonable shipping expectations:

  • Deliver items in a high-impact, long-lasting comfort cushion
  • Protect the product without burying it in annoying loose fill
  • Sustainably secure the item with as little protective packaging as possible
  • Protect fragile, odd-sized, and odd-shaped products
  • Reduce worry about product performance and the need to return
  • Lower or maintain current customer share of shipping cost

The majority of managers and the general public have very little understanding of the critical role that packaging plays. 



 FUNDAMENTALS OF AUTOMATION

 

 

Everything you’ve read and all the research you’ve found says automating the end-of-line packaging processes at your facility will help your overall goal of doing more with less. 
And, sure, it all sounds good, but how do you know if it’s right for your facility? Where do you start? What do you look for? And what about the return on your initial investment?

BUT, WHERE DO YOU EVEN START?

  • First, the solution needs to be simple and easily upgradeable. This ensures that you are capable of running future products at the future speeds that your market will inevitably demand. It also enables operators to change between products without having to make too many changes to the machine.
  • Second, remember that these machines, like any other, will need regular maintenance to prolong their life, minimizing downtime and maximizing utilization.
  • Third, the materials that you use in your machine play a critical role in their functioning. To perform at high efficiency, machines need to use high quality and consistent materials.

It all starts with a correctly assembled box.

Case erecting is a very time consuming and highly intensive manual process, especially because it takes time to properly position cases. Creating perfect squares ensures that your boxes are more durable, helping to withstand the rigors of shipping. 

If your cartons aren't ready on time, your production line grinds to a halt. Installing a case erector will definitely increase your packaging and production speed, and it can also help with other money saving efforts.

Automating this system can increase productivity up to 9 times over someone doing it by hand.

Make sure your cases are properly sealed.

There are two ways to seal your boxes: by hand or by machine. Hand sealing is slow, messy, and may require multiple strips which could possibly still not effectively hold because the pressure by which they were applied was not right. And with more workers on the floor comes additional labor costs and a higher likelihood of injuries from repetitive motion.

According to major shipping companies, improper tape application is the leading cause of closure failure on a shipped box. Inconsistently sealed boxes create weak seals, leading to potential theft, damage, or product contamination.

It's what's inside that counts.

No matter what type of void fill you use, be it styrofoam, paper, air, or a foam-in-place system, it's critical to remember these main points:

  • The total cost of ownership of the solution, both inside and outside the box.
  • Look at the entire carton fulfillment and shipping process: providing the perfect package and protective elements, optimizing the package itself, minimizing labor, justifying application of automation, and optimizing the facility, as well as the capital expenditure and space utilization.
  • Reduction of delivery costs by minimizing package volume and optimizing freight and parcel transportation.
  • Reduction of unnecessary packaging, improving the appearance of the delivered parcel, and protecting the contents of the package using the most effective, efficient, and sustainable way.

Don't forget about what you need to ship.

Automating the wrapping or strapping portion of your shipping preparation allows you to obtain the highest performance from the material, while eliminating the difficulties of manual work. 

Consider the following when you start the process of determining if automating is right:

  • How many loads are you currently shipping? Will that number increase in the future?
  • How are you currently palletizing and how many people does it take?
  • What types of loads are you working with? Are they fragile or irregularly shaped? Are they heavy, light, stable, unstable, etc.?
  • Are you experiencing shipping damage? If so, do you know what is causing the damage?
  • Are you operating multiple shifts?

JUSTIFYING THE INVESTMENT

Return on Investment: the three words that make or break a capital expenditure request. Learn how you can justify the expense of automation in five clear-cut ways.

DAMAGE REDUCTIONS

Nobody likes damage. Not you, not your customers, not anyone. But, like it or not, estimates say that, on average, 1 of every 10 packages is damaged in transit. 

Let automation fix your damage woes, once and for all.

When a person is responsible for erecting, packing, sealing, and wrapping cases, there's a much higher chance for damage. That person will do a decent job at first, but after a while they'll begin to produce inconsistent and substandard work. On the other hand, machines can and will perform at consistent levels for hours at a time without jeopardizing high quality.

Using automation also removes the human error aspect of packaging that typically leads to damage. Prevention starts with the right evaluation of your process, followed by the proper automation to reduce damage.

INCREASED THROUGHPUT

It should go without saying, but the key to successful warehouse operations is smooth, efficient product flow.

  • One person can erect about 3 cases per minute, while one automated case erector can assemble approximately 27 boxes per minute.
  • One person can only seal 10 cases per minute, but a case sealer can seal nearly 40 uniform boxes per minute.
  • One person can hand wrap approximately 15 pallets per hour, while a semi-automatic machine can wrap up to 35 loads in the same amount of time.

Machines can work long hours, as well as at night and on weekends, providing an overall increase in productivity. A cost comparison is the best analysis to determine if increased productivity can offset the incurred staff-related costs.

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MATERIAL USAGE REDUCTIONS

Any time you can reduce the total amount of material used, but maintain
the same production levels or even increase your output quantity,
you’re automatically saving money. 

Consider this simple example: an automated sealer uses a single 1,500-yard roll of tape to yield an output of 3,176 boxes. By comparison, a person would utilize a 220-yard roll and produce only 110 boxes, which means they use 6,352 yards of tape to achieve the same result as the machine. A 1,500-yard roll of tape will cost less per inch and will need to be swapped out far less often than a 220-yard roll, saving hundreds of dollars per year.

Additionally, you're ensuring consistency — consistency in the number of wraps, the number of straps, the amount of tape, and the amount of internal protection. 

LABOR SAVINGS

The cost of labor is steadily climbing at an annual rate of 2%. Many companies estimate that up to 60% of their total packaging costs can be traced back to labor.

Despite the rise in labor expenses, it’s possible to trim some spending in ways you may have never imagined. Ask yourself — will a machine cost more during its anticipated lifespan than the labor you’d be replacing? Can labor costs be reduced elsewhere when you free up manpower to perform more valuable jobs in your facility? And does it remove workers from safety risks that could cause accidents or injuries?

You can actually avoid some of these tedious steps when you automate your packaging process. When you eliminate unnecessary steps, you eliminate labor inefficiencies and allow your team the ability to focus on other, more necessary tasks.

IMPROVED SAFETY & ERGONOMICS

Did you know that musculoskeletal injuries are the leading reason why employees miss work? And that non-fatal workplace injuries related to musculoskeletal disorders cost businesses more than $21 billion every year, accounting for over 40% of total cost burdens to business? 

The average back injury can cost anywhere from $3,000 to $10,000 in direct expenses and between $30,000 to $100,000 in indirect costs. And warehouse workers are eight times more likely to sustain an on-the-job back injury than other employees.

The use of automated equipment is an effective way to prevent worker injuries. People may need to operate and program the equipment, but the actual hands-on work is left to the machine, protecting the health and safety of your staff.

READY TO DIVE DEEPER?

We've given you the basics, and you're well on your way to making some very smart decisions about your total packaging process. Now is the time to dive deeper with our specialists.

Get our free eBook.

It's been proven that converting to an automated packaging system can save you time and money. Automation is the key to productivity.

  • Damage Rate Decreases
  • Labor Cost Decreases
  • Process Improvements
  • Material Usage Decreases
  • Worker Safety Increases
Download this guide today: no forms or contact info needed. Because when you're ready, we're here.
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