Packaging automation has come a long way in the last decade. Automated packaging systems are now available and affordable for companies of all sizes and scales. These machines have created opportunities across the packaging line. The goal of automation remains to augment the workforce and make their jobs easier and safer, allowing companies to scale with ease.
Myth: Automation is too expensive for small companies
And companies that can afford automation end up eliminating their workforce for machines.
Let’s tackle the first part of the argument. There’s a common myth that small companies cannot justify the expense of automation or simply don’t need it at all. The early days of machines are over, and now we have equipment available for all shapes and sizes of production lines. Small companies can now enjoy the same benefits that automation provides for larger companies: cost savings and an increase in production. Table-top equipment is commonly seen where production is smaller and real estate is key; it’s light, easy to maneuver, and speeds up operations. This fosters the ability of a small business or a start-up company to grow.
Just like with other technologies, as equipment has become more commonplace it has become more affordable. Think about the early days of your favorite electronics, such as DVD players, mobile devices, and computers. The cost difference and the options available in just the last 10 years are astronomical. The same can be said for packaging automation and equipment options.
Smaller companies have become faster and more nimble with the packaging equipment that is on the market. For example, label dispenser and applicator machines speed up the labeling process. No matter what your production size is, there is a machine available to help your workforce get the job done quicker.
Equipment is Not the Enemy
Automation is often viewed as the enemy for bigger production lines and large-scale companies. Many employees worry that their jobs are at risk when there is talk of adding automation to a packaging line.
In reality, the opposite is true. Labor intensive operations with repetitive motions can likely be augmented with a machine or robot. Companies that continue to use their workforce for these repetitive motions will get run out by their competitors who have decided to bring in automation. Automating these processes allows for higher output, more consistent end product, and faster operations.
With operations running more smoothly, companies can expand, using the additional profits to grow to new markets and hire more employees.
Large companies also benefit by being able to hit production levels and scales that would not be possible without the benefits of automation. Some processes are simply not possible, or become extremely unsafe, without the use of machinery. As a whole, every individual in the company benefits when automation is introduced to the packaging line.
Automation is Not What You Think
If you have not operated with automation in your packaging line, you may have a hesitation due to the unknown. Equipment has a stigma of being hard to operate, hard to install, impossible to configure, and dangerous for the workforce. When proper guidelines are being followed, all of these myths are debunked.
Equipment and robotics companies have very strict guidelines to ensure the safety of your workforce. In addition, when you partner with Hughes, you will always have a dedicated packaging expert by your side, ensuring that you can operate the machinery with ease. Whether it’s the initial integration or maintenance down the line, we are by your side.
When it comes to daily operations, packaging machines are easier to maneuver than you might suspect. Our semi-automated equipment and fully automated systems are designed to be intuitive and easy to operate. Many machines even have touch screen panels that function similarly to a smartphone or tablet.
Types of Automation
Any time you bring automated equipment to a packaging line, the goal is to have a seamless transition that ultimately makes operations easier and more efficient. Today, we have a vast number of equipment options available:
- Semi-automated machines that augment your workforce and increase production, without adding high costs; reliable, flexible options to maximize efficiency
- Fully automated machines that are durable and high-speed; easily adaptable for volume and production types to accommodate even the most complex packaging lines; variety of equipment options depending on application
- Specialized and customized options that are available for making any part of the packaging line more efficient; in today’s dynamic packaging equipment world, we can create just about anything
Learn more about the packaging equipment options that are available at Hughes.
Here are the top considerations for selecting the right equipment:
- What is your budget? Factor in the cost implications that equipment will have on your packaging line. With higher production options, you will have other financial changes.
- Do you need custom solutions or a standard/off-the-shelf unit?
- How much space do you have in your production or distribution facility for equipment?
- What parts of your production line are redundant, manual processes that can be automated?
- What is your ROI?
When companies embrace automation, the benefits can be seen across the packaging line. The perfect example is in quality inspection. A human can only inspect a set number of packages per hour or per day. The only way to inspect more packages, without using equipment, would be to hire more staff. Costs become prohibitive to keep the product affordable and still be able to make a profit.
Vision systems and check weighers are machines that are programmed to inspect packages before they are sent out the door. If there is an issue, the package is sent back for inspection. This reduces human error so that 100% of the packages that go out the door are correct. The human workforce is now relieved from the repetitive processes, allowing them to focus on solving problems and creating new innovations. This is just one example of where automation is changing how the packaging line works.
Embracing automation is the fastest route to seeing higher production and more consistent output. Contact a Hughes packaging professional to talk about your equipment options.