When Should You Automate Your Packaging Line?
Manufacturers of consumer goods, food products, and more may experience growing pains as product demands increase. Fortunately, automating your packaging line can aid in solving these issues. There are many signs to look for that may indicate it’s time to automate your packaging line. Here, we’ll go over these signs as well as the process and benefits of packaging line automation.
The Basics of Automation
At its most basic definition, automation is a form of technology that performs specific processes or procedures with minimal human intervention. Essentially, automating tasks means systems can run by themselves, carrying out the same thing over and over again. When implemented into packaging operations, automation boasts several advantages, including scalability, reduced errors, higher efficiency, and more.
Signs You Should Automate Your Packaging Line
When wondering if it’s time to automate your packaging line, look for these key signs:
- Growing demand. It’s important to think of your current demand and how you expect it to grow. If you’re already nearing maximum capacity and you expect your demand to increase, it may be time to think about automation.
- Increases in e-commerce. In today’s environment, we’ve seen significant growth in e-commerce. If your fulfillment center is having a hard time keeping up with all those orders, automation may be the best solution.
- Higher output requirements. Think about what your current output requirements are and what you expect them to be in the next couple of years. If you think you’ll eventually need to achieve higher output, or packages per minute (PPM), consider automation.
- Labor performing repetitive work. If you notice that your labor force is performing a lot of repetitive tasks, you can benefit from automation. Automated machinery can perform these same tasks faster and free up your employees to do other important work.
- You need to reduce waste. Manual packaging tasks, such as pallet wrapping, generate a lot of material waste. Automated packaging lines are more efficient and produce significantly less waste than manual processes.
Benefits of Automation
Automating your packaging line offers a wide range of benefits, including:
Reduces the Possibility of Repetitive Strain Injury
Packaging line automation eliminates the need for manual intervention to complete repetitive tasks, lowering the risk of repetitive strain injury.
Remove Potential Bottlenecks and Defects
Custom automated machinery is designed to keep up with the flow of the production line, eliminating the risk of bottlenecks. Automation also reduces the risk of product defects and recalls.
Automated packaging lines can run 24/7 if needed, improving production speeds and efficiency.
Increased Staff Morale
By automating repetitive packaging tasks, staff can be moved to other areas of operation that are less mundane. This results in more engagement and job satisfaction.
Although automated machinery may have a high initial cost, these systems typically result in decreased product costs and a higher capacity, improving your bottom line.
How to Automate Packaging
Automation comes in a variety of forms, and the experts at Big Sky are to help determine which is right for you. The different forms of automation include:
- Hard automation: A specific robot or machine that performs a dedicated task or group of tasks at equal or higher speeds than human workers.
- Soft automation: A derivative of hard automation, but with some built-in flexibility. Often called programmable automation, soft automation is commonly computer-controlled and can be mechanically adjusted to accommodate changes in production.
- Flexible automation: Designed to change with production variations.
While some operations may benefit from a fully automated packaging line, certain advantages can also be achieved through partial automation. Some facilities could also decide to deploy two or more automated packaging lines, or have one fully automated line and other lines that are partially automated. We’ll collaborate with you to assess your requirements and develop a solution that fits your current and future plans.
Contact Big Sky for Automation Solutions for Your Packaging Line
There are many factors to consider when deciding to automate your packaging line. Big Sky can help you determine if automation is the right solution for your packaging needs. We offer various turnkey automation solutions for packaging lines, including conveyors, robotic case packing, robotic palletizing, case sealers and erectors, automatic labelers, and more. We can also custom-design a turnkey automation solution to fit your unique packaging needs. Contact us or request a quote today to learn more about our automation solutions for your packaging line.