With expenses rising, it can be difficult to justify the initial cost of certain actions, like implementing packaging automation equipment and hardware. Knowing how much that cost is can be an extremely powerful deterrent for many companies. But it’s also easy to forget that the costs eventually pay off, and they’re certainly worth the investment.
Thanks to the many benefits that packaging automation can provide an operation, those who do implement the technology see significant benefits at nearly every stage of their business.
Packaging automation improves operational flexibility and accuracy, creates a more consistent and reliable system, and reduces many costs, not the least of which stems from mitigating performance losses or operational shutdowns. Even so, you might still be on the fence about adopting the technologies.
If that’s you, here are six wonderful reasons why now is such a great time to invest in packaging automation.
Consumer demand is on the rise despite what may be happening around us, and when supplies or material shortages hit, that slows everything down more. There may be times when your operation is struggling to keep up with orders, demand, and market shifts. That is precisely where automation can take the reins and help things go more smoothly.
Packaging automation is about streamlining the various processes and systems so that more products or goods are made available in less time, with lower costs and fewer resources. In other words, you’re just converting your entire operation into a well-oiled and persistent machine.
But most importantly, it’s a system that needs very little maintenance or manual intervention. Many organizations have already discovered this. Industry experts predict that as many as 50,000 warehouses may be using autonomous robotics by 2025, mainly to keep up with e-commerce demands.
2. Your Employees Want It
There are two things that a manual operation stresses for a business. The first is labor costs and the impact of human labor requirements. The second is the damage that’s being done to those human laborers, especially during repetitive, straining tasks. Never mind the problems associated with modern labor, like high turnover rates, injuries and downtime, performance issues, and so on. Health and safety concerns are extremely pressing right now, as many are prioritizing their lives over their work.
Automation frees up manual laborers by taking over repetitive and sometimes even dangerous tasks. Those workers can be reallocated, wherever they are needed, allowing them to focus on more creative projects. You save on labor costs and potential associated costs, and get a better and more secure operation. They get a better work environment with fewer physical risks and a less repetitive day-to-day experience.
3. Products Get to Market Faster
The efficiency enhancements lead to faster production speeds and faster market delivery for your products and goods. Packaging automation systems can also be configured to multi-task, where before a station might have been dedicated to one action at a time. For example, you can use the same system to both seal and label finished packages.
Or, you can even leverage a versatile system to package different products, like roll and tube lines, which are used to secure a lot of goods, such as wire spools, rolls of garbage bags, lotion tubes, detergent, and much more. Establishing your requirements and KPIs before implementing an automated system will help set you up for success.
In the latter scenario, you’re investing in a system that’s extremely reusable and configurable, which means you have a lot more room to adjust operations when things get challenging. In other words, you’re not stuck producing or managing a single product with proprietary equipment that’s incredibly expensive and soon to be obsolete. You’re ready for the future, and you can grow with your customers and the market.
4. You Produce Less Waste
Material waste can be expensive, there’s no question. When there are efficiency and performance concerns, that can also correlate with higher levels of waste and wasted resources. Packaging automation can reduce these concerns considerably because the systems operate with fewer errors and have a high degree of precision and reliability.
That affords several things, including a faster, better operation, and a more green solution with a lower carbon footprint for the business. Waste is a major concern for companies that want to go net-zero or shrink their carbon footprint. Automation is just one solution for vastly improving the outcome of those initiatives.
5. Higher-Quality Products
Automation is also about creating a reliable system that has unprecedented precision, free from human errors and the major production mistakes you might see in a more traditional environment. So, customers receive higher-quality products and goods, always made to a particular standard, thanks to a system that rarely, if ever, falters. It’s easy to overlook how important that is for a company or brand’s reputation, but you’ll notice right away after the packaging automation hardware churns out near-perfect goods.
Higher-quality products lead to a better, more positive reputation, higher customer satisfaction ratings, and, eventually, growing profits.
6. It’s More Competitive
A Zebra Technologies study, on trends and challenges transforming warehouse operations, reveals that 80% of organizations are planning to invest in technologies that make them more competitive, including packaging automation solutions. If you’re not already considering it, you can bet that your competitors are – if they haven’t adopted the technologies already. When that happens, you’ll be left in the dust, especially if you’re still prioritizing manual labor.
Staying competitive in today’s hyper-fast, on-demand marketplace is going to make or break your business – especially where your customers are concerned. If they can get higher-quality products elsewhere, for cheaper, they will do so in a heartbeat. Securing a competitive edge wherever you can get one is crucial.
Packaging Automation: Necessary to Succeed
You’re looking at a long list of benefits for your operation when you invest in packaging automation.
Automation technologies can make the workplace better and safer for your workers, they’ll produce much less waste because they’re efficient, reliable, and accurate, and they also lead to higher-quality products. Then those benefits create a snowball effect, leading to more satisfied customers, faster time to market, and more.
The real question is why aren’t you automating your operation, wherever you can? The initial cost will be justified before long, and you’ll come out saving money and time – and maybe even your reputation in the long run.
Emily Newton is the Editor-in-Chief of Revolutionized. She regularly covers trends in the industrial sector.