If you're researching packaging automation, it's probably time.

When determining to automate aspects of your packaging process, don't be afraid. Here are 5 incentives to help you confidently move in the right direction.

Investing time and money in new processes due to customer demand is an exciting time. Of course, you're looking for proven, quick returns. So let's get started with these 5 incentives when considering packaging equipment and determine when automating the packaging process is the right decision.

Five key incentives – Motivating and profitable reasons for automating your packaging process:

Damaged products equal lost revenues, lost time, lost productivity, and lost brand integrity. All of that adds up to bad business practice.   

  • Reduced damage rates
  • Increased productivity and efficiency
  • Reduced labor costs
  • Reduced material usage rates
  • Improved worker safety

Reduced damage rates

Did you know that about one half of one percent of all products shipped are lost due to damage? You're probably asking yourself why you should even care because, frankly, one half of one percent sounds pretty insignificant.

And you're right. But consider this:  Proctor and Gamble’s annual sales total around $84 billion. A damage rate of 0.5% equates to $420 million in lost revenues.  Now, those are some serious losses. Furthermore, annual global damage losses amount to about $84 billion. That's as much as P&G sells in a year.

Shipping Damage: Last time we checked, money saved is money made!

Okay, now you're probably thinking Oh, that's heartbreaking for some massive, too big too fail bazillion dollar company. But we're working legit budgets down here, pounding the pavement, sweating it out for $50 million annually. We've got much higher priorities than 0.5% in potential revenue savings. 

And you're right. But take step back for a second... take a breath and consider approaching the powers that be with a $250K opportunity. Would they be interested? If you're still thinking, NOPE!, then let's chat.

As you know, friend, money saved is money made. Any company not interested in saving that kind of scratch may be throwing lots more out annually due to unknown shipping damages, agreed? So, now think again: that measly 0.5% doesn't sound so measly anymore, does it?

As you know, money saved is money made. And any company not interested in saving that kind of scratch may be throwing lots more out annually due to unknown shipping damages, agreed?

Considering the primary reason you invest in packaging is to provide protection during shipment,every time you load a trailer, you're putting the future of your products in someone else's hands. Wouldn't you like to know that there is, at least, some well-applied protective packaging on your trailer load of potential profit? 

Think of all the reasons loads can fail in transit: do you assume all those hazards are out of your control? Think again. When you simply create stable loads, packaged and wrapped properly, it's possible to recover up to as much as 50% of your potential lost products. You may not be able to control the external environment, but you can control the packaging inside that trailer.

Understand that you control your packaging situation and if you're reading this, it's likely your responsibility and role to review that packaging process and take action to enhance and improve it.

So, all of this leads up to the common question: Why not just keep the same process I use now, but buy "better" packaging supplies? Truthfully, it's not only about product quality although it's certainly a critical component when you're looking at automation. More to the point, manual labor seems like a cheap alternative rather than adding expensive packaging equipment to your process. But it's simply unrealistic for people to produce the same quality, consistent results as a packaging machine.

Packaging Automation - Automating the packaging process and reallocating resources

We know you've got the best resources, they work hard and do a great job to the extent each is capable. But after a while, they become tired and produce substandard work. Packaging equipment has the ability to perform the same task again and again without degrading quality or slowing speed.

That means that the last corrugated box auto erected, packed with costly product and protected with void fill, sealed with packaging tape and palletized with stretch film is prepared just as securely as the first pallet of deliverables. That last sentence was no doubt a mouth-full, so we'll give you a minute right here to give it another read. OK, next?

Increased productivity and efficiency

Perhaps you already have some manner of automation in your packaging process, and you may have experienced the real world relief of productivity boosts. If your facility has automated up the line and you’re putting out over 100 units per minute, you need to be able to pack at a rate that will match that production. 

Time Savings: From 3 cases per minute to 27 cases consistently & without damage.

So, you hire more bodies. Now you need more oversight, more administration, more health insurance, and so forth. That approach, despite your best intentions and efforts, does not monetarily scale. On the other hand, packaging machines work any hours, don't need breaks or that infamous emergency time off when you've got the biggest order in your company's history. Packaging equipment provides a new level of predictable availability that leads to priceless, consistent time savings.

Packaging Equipment: You'll never throw enough bodies at every packaging process.

Let's review some impressive productivity comparisons between packaging equipment and human resources to highlight the benefits of packaging automation such as removing process bottlenecks, maximizing throughput, and keeping production flowing smoothly.

  • One person can erect about 3 cases per minute.
  • One automated case erector can assemble approximately 27 cases per minute.
  • One person can hand seal about 10 cases per minute.
  • Packaging equipment can seal nearly 40 uniform cases or 20 random cases per minute.

We've got many more productivity and efficiency comparisons with a wide array of equipment in specific industry applications if you'd like to research further and the complete eBooks and white papers with full data analysis and details can be downloaded from our, ever-so-aptly-named Everything page.


Reduced labor rates

Okay, let's continue honestly with the man vs. machine topic. When you have people hand packing, you have troubles: Hand cramps, back aches, bathroom breaks, lunch hours, vacation requests. You know where I'm going with this. And the fact of the matter is that a packaging machine needs none of these things. 

However, have you also considered how you can leverage employee experience and insight by reallocating their roles to existing or expanding areas of your business? Employees excited about the prospect of more engaging ways to contribute while packaging automation is implemented may surprise you. It's definitely something to think about. Fresh human perspective can bring bottom line benefits, as well.

Most companies producing packaged products estimate that up to 60% of their total packaging costs are solely labor-related.

Back to reduced labor rates, employees are an expensive resource. And running a business isn't getting any cheaper: in fact, the cost of labor is continually rising. Most companies producing packaged products estimate that up to 60% of their total packaging costs are solely labor-related. 

So, ask yourself: Will packaging automation cost more over its expected life cycle than the total cost of labor you’ll replace or reallocate? Even if you're paying minimum wage, paying multiple people to hand assemble, pack, seal, palletize, wrap, and load products can be overwhelming to manage. Simply take into account the inevitable overuse of packaging supplies and materials, add the likelihood of higher product damage, and suddenly that one-time spend on packaging equipment doesn't look so out of the realm of possibility. 

Reduced material usage rates

It doesn't take a mathematician to figure out that any time you reduce the amount of material used, but maintain or improve the production results, you’re saving money. So why can it seem so difficult to justify an automated packaging process that will use less materials?

Packaging Automation eliminates waste. Want it done right? Do not do it yourself.

For example, it's inevitable that someone hand sealing boxes will use more tape than packaging equipment would: an automated sealer will use 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 yield only 110 boxes, equating to 6,352 yards of tape to achieve the same result as the machine.

  • Packaging equipment would use a 1,500 yard roll of tape to achieve results quickly and accurately.
  • Employees would use a 6,352 yard roll of tape to achieve the same result slower and with damage.

The studies speak for themselves; so we urge you to grab our eBooks and white papers and deep dive with us.

Improved worker safety

Remember those scary thing we talked about before? The hand cramps? Back aches? Even that dreaded carpal tunnel syndrome? Well, prepare yourself, because this is where it gets downright terrifying: musculoskeletal injuries are the leading cause of employees missing work, costing businesses more than $21 billion every year. Yes, that's billion. With a B.

Missed work is costing businesses more than $21 billion every year. Yes, that's billion. 

And, the truth is that the risk factors affect operators who manually package products are found in facilities just like yours:

  • Lifting, pushing, or pulling 
  • Working in awkward positions
  • Performing the same or similar tasks repetitively
  • Bending and reaching

Know how to stop it? Take the operator out of the equation. (Yeah, I went with the math analogy again.)

Using packaging equipment is an effective way to prevent worker injuries because now you don't have someone lifting, bending, pulling, cramping, and finding any number of ways to cause themselves serious injury.

Many of today’s automated production devices keep workers a safe distance from the more hazardous areas of work, as well as from the hazardous work itself. Yes, someone still needs to manage the equipment, but the actual hands-on work is left to the machine, protecting the health and safety of workers while saving you the direct and indirect costs of an on-site worker injury.

Automated Packaging Process: Leave the hands-on work to the packaging machines.

And that's just putting those premium dollars (worker's comp and health insurance, that is) back into your bottom line and profit margins. 

Now What?

That's entirely your call, right? We've offered some of the key motivating measurables to consider as you research the pros of automating your packaging process. 

  • Reduced damage rates
  • Increased productivity and efficiency
  • Reduced labor costs
  • Reduced material usage rates
  • Improved worker safety

If you've found this article helpful, bookmark it. Share it. Tweet it. Laud us for the mentally-stimulating packaging geniuses that we are. Then check out the rest of our offerings. Everything is on our oh-so-cleverly named Everything page.