So you’ve worked hard to make your business an efficient endeavor. You’ve managed to keep up with the pace and demand of your business so far, but eventually, you will have to adjust and find new ways to keep up with demand. This is when you may be considering adding automation to your packaging line not only to speed up productivity and get products to customers but to ensure consistency and eliminate waste. Fortunately, there are different ways in which you can introduce automation into your packaging line. You can start small and create a system that allows you to expand as your business grows. Read on to learn how and when you can begin to automate your packaging line.
What Does Automation Mean For Your Business?
The first step is recognizing your need for automation. Once you’ve done that, it is helpful to acknowledge the benefits automation brings. Automation is a mechanical system that excels at completing repetitive tasks without the potential for human error. However, automation isn’t an “all or nothing” process. Automation can be hard, soft, or flexible and used in various ways.
Hard automation refers to a dedicated machine that does a specific task or group of tasks. These machines are well-suited for high-throughput operations that require no variation. The devices can be custom-made and expensive, but their capacity creates a reduced per-item cost. Examples of hard automation include bottling/canning machines, sorts, conveyors, and more. One drawback is that if your product requires change, modifying hard automation can be costly.
Also known as programmable automation, this automation is similar to hard varieties but has built-in flexibility. It is often computer-controlled and can have some mechanical adjustments. These machines may be more costly than hard automation because of additional engineering required and a lower production rate. However, soft automation is helpful for those who know how their needs will change or for companies with multiple batches of similar products.
As its name suggests, flexible automation is made to change with variations in your production. This automation uses a programmable robotic arm with an end-of-arm tool. Slower and more costly than the other types of automation, it can adapt to changing products and production volumes.
The best way to automate your packaging line is to reach a mix of technologies. With software and sensing options, it is possible to integrate the three into one solution.
When Should You Automate Your Packaging Line?
Deciding to automate your packaging line is a decision that should not be taken lightly. As you move forward in the process, consider the following questions:
- What is your current demand? Where do you expect to be in X months or years? If you are nearing maximum capacity, it is time to think about automation.
- What are your packages per minute (PPM) requirements? This will influence what type of solutions you should consider.
- What are your current bottlenecks? If line changeovers or inspections and sortings slow down production, automation should be considered.
- What simple, repetitive operations are in your packaging line? Robotic automation solutions are great for repetitive tasks.
- What is the cost of your packaging line? How might it compare to automation costs? Costs associated with employee turnover, workers comp, or lost production can pile up when not using automation.
While deciding to automate your packaging line can seem daunting, the benefits it brings in increased output, decreased waste, and equipment longevity means the prices are often well worth it.
Liquid Filling Machine Specialists
For over 70 years, FILAMATIC has been providing a wide range of liquid filling systems to the packaging industry. We create flexible, customized solutions for every stage of your business growth. Whether you require a single handheld filling machine, a complete turnkey fill-cap-label solution, or a fully automated, integrated filling system, we have the liquid filling experience to ensure your satisfaction is exceeded.
For more information on liquid filling, capping and labeling solutions, please call 866.258.1914 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.