Automating Your Workflow: Dealing With COVID-19 in the Packaging Industry

Covid-19

Automating Your Workflow: Dealing With COVID-19 in the Packaging Industry

As the coronavirus wreaks havoc on the global economy, companies must find ways to limit expenses and stretch their resources. One of the easiest ways to cut costs is to eliminate waste and automate production and packaging processes. Though bulk buying helps to reduce packaging waste, assembly is still a drain on employees’ time and productivity. 

With automated packaging systems such as folder gluing machines, business owners can save time and money while keeping employees safe on the job. Here are a few reasons for companies to invest in automated packaging solutions during the pandemic, as well as some information on how companies are responding to the crisis.

Help Keeping Up With Increased Demand

This is the biggest reason why business owners ask about automated packaging equipment. As people are increasingly ordering online instead of visiting stores, an enormous strain is placed on packing and shipping center personnel. Manual processes simply can’t keep up. Vendors and customers may get impatient, and companies risk losing those customers to faster-moving competitors.

Even the best packaging systems can only move as quickly as their slowest components. In most cases, the slowest part is the person operating the machine. A folder gluing machine reduces human involvement and the margin for error, which expedites the packing process. Many machines can run with just one operator, and in any case, they can package products much faster than an employee could by hand. This fact allows companies to keep up with consumer demand while avoiding unnecessary risks to workers.

Packaging automation allows companies to respond very quickly to increases in demand, which means that employees can work more efficiently, vendors get their shipments on time, and customers can get the things they need when they need them. With these realizations, the decision to automate packaging processes becomes a sensible one.

Streamlining Packaging Processes to Take Advantage of Growth Opportunities

It’s a common problem among small business owners: there’s an opportunity to expand into an untapped market, but the concept of rapid growth brings a sense of impending doom. Most small businesses are ill-equipped to handle a fast-paced expansion phase, and company owners often struggle to keep up. 

However, packaging automation provides the simplification needed for quick growth during a time of crisis. With folder gluing machines and other packaging equipment, companies will find it easier to expand with confidence no matter the economic climate.

An Economy of Scale

With automated packaging equipment, manufacturers can give customers the best products at a low market price. When companies work with the industry’s most reliable automated packaging machinery suppliers, they get the required level of service without overspending. Furthermore, they get partners who will always invest in and upgrade to the most advanced automated packaging equipment. This machinery allows owners to future-proof their businesses, even in the middle of a pandemic.

Decreased Spending on Manual Labor and Employee Injuries

As COVID-19 spreads around the world, companies everywhere are furloughing and laying off workers. Of all the costs of doing business, labor is one of the most significant. Humans are costly to employ, and while they’re great at most things, they don’t typically excel at repetitive, menial tasks. 

Combine that fact with an increase in sick days and on-the-job injuries, and it’s easy to see how the costs add up. For a company that wants to cut expenses without sacrificing production capacity and effort, automated packaging works wonders.

Though a company owner may not want automation to eliminate employees’ jobs, especially during a pandemic, it doesn’t have to work out that way. Many companies, after reducing or eliminating the need for by-hand packaging, can reallocate those employees to other, more important areas. With automated packing, companies can focus on technology and customer satisfaction.

Improving Access to Important Information During Times of Crisis

In the past, automation solutions weren’t nearly as advanced as they are today. With the advent of AI (artificial intelligence) and other technologies, it’s possible to see mistakes before they occur. Taking notes on packaging line errors is complicated when manual laborers are involved. 

Many times, these mistakes aren’t reported, and even the best quality assurance specialist may miss something occasionally. Automated packaging equipment helps to paint a more accurate picture of what’s happening on the line, and most importantly, it makes that information accessible to company owners during times of crisis.

Automated packing equipment takes on the burden of repetitive and tedious tasks, so workers don’t have to do it. This not only improves access to information, but it also reduces the risk of work-related injury and allows employees to shift their focus to higher-value jobs.

Recent Standardization of Product Lines and Offerings

Though packaging automation has its merits, it’s not always right for every situation. One such time is when a company’s packaging or product offerings are constantly changing, highly varied, or extremely customized. Folder gluing machines and other equipment work best when companies have standardized product assortments and packaging that doesn’t change too often.

That’s not to say that companies cannot automate the packaging of varying product lines, because many do it every day. To do so, the company would have to buy several dedicated packaging systems, or they’d have to stop production to modify machines so they can accommodate the new packaging materials. 

Both scenarios are common in automation, but they’re costly and they decrease the packaging line’s efficiency. If your company has recently consolidated its product lines and standardized its packaging, now is the right time to improve the efficiency of packaging and shipping processes.

Trouble Meeting Packaging Goals

Wouldn’t it be reassuring to know that your product packaging will happen day in and day out? That’s where automation comes in. High-quality automated systems simply do their jobs every day with minimal maintenance and oversight. However, that doesn’t mean they can be ignored.

Like all other machines, automated packaging equipment needs periodic tune-ups and occasional repairs. However, if parameters are set properly, these machines will keep going until they’re told to stop. Meeting production goals (and surpassing them) is achievable with the help of folder gluing machines. With automated equipment, it’s possible to get high marks on a performance evaluation even during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Minimizing Waste and Inefficiency

You’d probably be shocked to see the amount of waste created during manual packaging processes, and much of that waste is invisible unless you take a moment to envision it. When a company packs hundreds of shipments per week, the waste adds up quickly. Here are several examples.

  • Overfilling bags and sending too much product
  • Leakage resulting from inadequate package sealing
  • Finished bags failing QA checks can’t be reused
  • Labor force inefficiencies
  • Inadequate use of packaging area floor space

Packaging equipment is calibrated to produce consistency in packaging, product weight, and sealing. Because of these precise automation processes, waste is significantly reduced. Furthermore, where waste and inefficiency are concerned, automated packaging equipment needs almost no intervention and can produce more than a human labor force ever could.

Revamping Outdated Packaging Lines to Keep Pace With Technology and Production

Though most business owners assume their current packaging processes are suitable for their deadlines, production quotas, and profit margins, that’s not always the case. If it’s been a few years since the last packaging line audit, it may help to hire an expert to assess the company’s current processes and make recommendations to increase efficiency. 

When companies do the same thing for years at a time, workers may tend to disregard inefficiencies, inconsistencies, and inaccuracies in packaging processes. The people on the front lines are so involved in daily operations that there’s little room for process improvement.

Expert assessments typically reveal procedural flaws that would otherwise go unnoticed. It’s surprising how much room there is for process improvement, even on a line that seems to be functioning normally. With automated packaging equipment, those improvements are much easier to come by.

How Businesses are Responding to COVID-19

Business owners and shipping companies are facing more pressure than ever before. As consumer demand increases, industrial challenges are emerging. Companies must get their products to market faster without sacrificing efficiency and sustainability. Each of these unique challenges also presents opportunities in the packaging production sector.

Suppliers of packaging services and equipment are leading an industrial transformation that’s built around digitalization, sustainability, connectivity, and automation. To keep up with heightened demand during the coronavirus outbreak, the world’s production chain must become more flexible and agile. Across the entire workflow, more timely, fact-based decisions are necessary. We’re quickly entering a time where interconnected systems will share information across production processes for precise, fast optimization.

In Conclusion

Folder gluing machines and other automated packaging equipment offer substantial benefits for shippers and product manufacturers. By shouldering the burden of tedious, repetitive tasks, these automated systems reduce the risk of employee injuries and allow workers to focus on more mission-critical tasks. These systems work to increase productivity and heighten quality control initiatives, which means increased long-term profits.

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