Packaging Automation During a Global Pandemic

Automation remained a future goal of countless business owners last year. They knew this would benefit their business but were unprepared to invest in automation of their packaging processes. The global pandemic hit, however, and business owners realized this was a task they needed to tackle promptly to best serve their customers.

Workplace safety also played a role in making the move to packaging automation for many companies. The lives of employees could be at risk during the packaging process, so they moved any tasks a machine could handle to that arena. This reduced the risk of occupational transmission of the virus without negatively impacting productivity. Although other areas of a business may require automation, packaging processes need to be a priority to keep all safe in these uncertain times.

What Does Packaging Automation Involve?

Automated processes rely on machines to handle various tasks without human intervention and work best on those tasks that are repetitive. When used in the packaging industry, automated machines take on repetitious tasks while producing neatly wrapped packages without sacrificing speed and reliability. Companies looking into packaging automation frequently receive help from SBL to ensure they purchase the necessary machines to handle the tasks they carry out routinely.

The Benefits of Automated Packaging

Companies investing in automated packaging find they gain an advantage over their competitors completing these tasks by hand. What advantages can be expected when this equipment has been obtained?

Automating packaging processes improve task accuracy. Humans become fatigued when they carry out the same task repetitively. This affects their ability to carry out their tasks correctly. When a machine carries out these tasks, errors are eliminated. Furthermore, automation keeps workers safer on the job.

Making use of automated packaging processes allows businesses to optimize their resources. For instance, humans often waste stretch wrap. Humans remain limited in terms of their ability to stretch elastic film. They cannot stretch this film to over 20 percent of its original size. Machines, however, expand this film to up to 300 percent of its original size. Using machines reduces waste while extending the lifespan of the film rolls, saving the business money. Machines reduce waste in other areas as well, such as in cushions, product labels, and more.

Business owners who maintain their equipment and provide the necessary power supply find their machines maintain the same performance level. Fatigue never becomes an issue with the machines, and they aren’t susceptible to COVID-19 and other diseases. As a result, business owners find they have fewer concerns regarding health and safety issues in the workplace. Even when employees must stay home because of exposure to a deadly virus or for other health reasons, the business can continue to operate with ease.

Automated machines increase workplace safety in other ways. Humans spend less time around hot machines or moving heavy packages. Emerson’s solution created motion and drive systems that are as dependable as they are adaptable and flexible, enhancing application performance and increasing productivity. Even in difficult situations such as high heat and tough terrain, your system must operate as effectively as feasible. As a result, they receive exposure to fewer hazards. Ergonomic injuries remain a concern of every employer, as repetitive tasks put workers at risk. Automation takes on these tasks to decrease work-related accidents and injuries.

Finally, repetitive tasks lead to employee burnout. With companies automate these tasks, efficiency increases and injury rates decline. This lead to a boost in employee morale and job satisfaction. Businesses benefit when this is the case.

Which Tasks Should Be Automated?

Many tasks in the workplace benefit from automation. Companies might choose to automate their package feeding line to ensure the accuracy and regularity of packing products. Workers no longer need to carry out these tasks and can turn their focus to machine maintenance and quality assurance. Simplicity and repetitiveness remain the hallmarks of package folding. When a company automates this process, tasks require less time for completion and ergonomic hand injuries become less of a concern.

Sealing tasks often require the use of heated plates, stretch wrap, metallic plates, and more. These tools put workers at risk, yet machines carry them out with ease. For this reason, companies often find they wish to turn sealing duties over to automation.

Packages require labels. Workers, however, don’t enjoy printing, peeling, and attaching these labels, as the task lacks any challenge and is repetitive. When machines take on this job, companies feel confident knowing barcodes and product descriptions appear on products properly and accurately.

Case packing takes time away from other tasks. Turn this process over to machines and allow them to handle putting small products into larger packages before sending them on for palletizing and warehousing. Palletizing packages before shipping them becomes a much easier task when stretch wrapping machines complete this task. Waste becomes less of a concern when companies use machines for this job. To prevent injuries to workers, machines can handle palletizing, package transfers, and more.

When Is the Best Time to Automate?

Business owners often wonder if they should spend the money to automate. The global pandemic showed countless companies how important automating certain tasks is today. However, other entrepreneurs’ question whether now is the time to make this move. Consider the following as you go to make this important decision.

If consumer demand is outpacing the company’s ability to keep up, it’s time to automate one or more processes. Doing so ensures customers don’t have to wait for their items, which could lead them to make future purchases from a competitor. Furthermore, automation increases productivity by allowing machines to take on tasks they can handle while leaving humans free to complete those tasks a machine can not do. As the pandemic showed, productivity declines when multiple workers become ill at the same time, and no company can afford to lose anyone in a crisis. Machines continue to work even when people must be out due to illness.

Machines help to reduce waste, which leads to an increase in profits for a business. Furthermore, companies making full use of automation find they reduce changeover time, which leads to increased efficiency in the workplace. If one or more of the above conditions apply to your organization, consider automating some or all processes. Repetitive tasks, such as those seen in the packaging industry, benefit from automation, and business owners must recognize this. Thanks to the global pandemic, companies find they must alter operations significantly in a short period. Automation helps to overcome some challenges these businesses face, and the packaging sector reacts well to automation. This explains why many companies took this step before the pandemic and more are considering doing so today. The same might be true for yours.

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