Is it time for cartoning automation?
When you’re working with low throughput quantities manual packaging processes make sense.
But once you face increased consumer demand it time for some decision making. Should we invest in additional, more automated capital equipment? Is it time for automation? Crossing over from manual to automated packaging can really seem like a big challenge for new and small businesses. On the other hand, avoiding this change can cost your business even more in the long run.
So, should the packaging automation be the next step for your product and business? Here are three basic steps that should help you to find the answer.
- Business Goals Evaluation
The first step when determining if your business should move from manual to automated packaging is identifying your business goals. Is your goal is to ship to a limited number of local stores? If the answer is “yes”, automated packaging probably isn’t the right solution for you. Do you seek to expand your business into 100 regional stores? In that case, automation is something you should consider. Evaluating your goals will help you discover which direction your business should take, and give you the answer to the question: “Should I invest in new equipment?”
- Current Packaging Environment Analysis
You can’t get where you want to go if you don’t know where you are. This also applies when you are looking for a way to grow your business. Analyzing your current manufacturing process should help you discover the level of automation your business will need in the future.
Manufacturing areas you should assess include:
- Current output rates
- Any process bottlenecks
- Primary packaging types
Think about product and packaging types you plan to develop in the future. Then, go through the guidelines and requirements set by your current or potential product retailers. Consider:
- Packaging weights
- Carton/case dimensions
- Pack counts
- Handhold requirements
- Material and Labor Costs Analysis
High-speed, fully-automated lines aren’t always the best choice. Small manufacturers can run effectively with a semi-automatic, or slow- to medium-automated packaging lines.
When considering secondary packaging options, look at all of the factors that can affect your bottom line, including:
- Time and resources associated with manually packaging and pallet-loading cases
- Material, storage and freight costs associated with corrugated shipping containers
- Equipment and material space savings
In the end, you can conclude if automation is feasible for your organization, what are your potential dollar savings and how large your capital equipment budget should be.
Once you’ve completed your fact-finding steps, you can make an informed decision about automation. If you share your findings with any potential packaging equipment manufacturers, they can develop a system according to your product and business goals.
Automation is a growing trend, but investing in automation has to make financial sense for your businesses, whatever the trends may be.
If you are having second thoughts about automation, here are six signs that could show if your company needs to automate.
Sign 1 – Increased Production Demand
Does your main piece of equipment keep breaking down? Your current production methods can’t keep up with customer demands? The right automated system can help you achieve more efficient production and the ability to service big contracts.
Sign 2 – Increased Labor Costs
Do your employees suffer from health issues due to working in unfriendly surroundings? Are they frequently absent due to repetitive motion injuries caused by manual work? Absenteeism, in the long run, increases your labor costs and decreases efficiency and automation can be a solution to this problem.
Sign 3 – Increased Competition
Does your company need to compete with similar-sized companies or with low-cost-labor companies from overseas? If the answer is yes, you should know that automation is a good selling point. It is a way to show that you are able to provide a product or service at a lower cost and higher quality than an overseas provider. This can be a great advantage, especially when calculating time and cost needed for shipping.
Sign 4 –New Markets and New Opportunities
Does your company make only one product for one industry? If the answer is yes, you may be facing a tough choice: expanding to new markets or going out of business. When cheaper products from overseas threaten your existence, it means that it is time to consider automation and expand your production to new markets.
Sign 5 – Too Much Waste
Are you in a pursuit for lean manufacturing objectives with less wasted materials, less wasted time, and less wasted effort? Flexible systems can save both material waste and reduce production time.
Sign 6 – Demand for Ultra-Precise Assembly
Does your production require precision beyond human abilities? Assembly spaces are getting smaller, and besides electronics, this trend is affecting the assembly of automotive parts, household appliances, and surgical devices.
Deciding to automate your packaging process is a big step and in order to make it happen, you will need a trusting partner. Tishma Technologies is dedicated to developing automated packaging solutions that will respond to client’s unique needs. Get a quote, and let’s get the automation started!