Automated packaging, combined with precise technology and equipment, can produce increased productivity, quality, and safety on-site. But how do you determine the level of automation versus integration in your packaging process?
To design a custom packaging solution, it’s important to determine your packaging needs and enlist an automated packaging professional to help develop a streamlined process that meets your unique operational requirements. Utilizing automated processes in a packaging operation can greatly increase packaging efficiency through increased throughput. On Demand Packaging® systems deliver customized solutions that integrate with one or more of the following 10 features that occur in every packaging process.
When a purchase order generates work to be done, the data must be understood and translated for the rest of the process to work. An integrated software platform can be customized to provide this framework.
The Packsize PackNet® software platform automatically calculates the best box style and packaging for each shipment with automated dimension capture and WMS integration.
To efficiently transport a product from point A to point B in the packaging process, the product must be routed to be packed or sorted for shipping.
With Right-sized Packaging on Demand® products can be transported by both conveyor and by cart.
Creating right-sized boxes produces substantial savings in warehouse space, labor, and shipping. There are various automated packaging systems available to make a variety of right-sized designs.
Three packaging systems are shown making custom box designs.
By creating a right-sized box, products are not moving around inside the box, resulting in less damage during transit. Depending on product size, shape, and fragility, Packsize packaging experts can advise if additional product protection is required.
Erecting a box can be performed by hand or by machine. Packsize offers a variety of systems to provide full or partial automation depending on each unique packaging environment.
The Packsize X4® offers partial automation with human assistance, while the Packsize X7® automatically erects a box in seconds.
Placing targeted product(s) into a box can also be done automatically or manually, depending on labor requirements and packaging needs.
A packed carton can be sealed with tape, staples, straps, glue, or shrink wrap. Packsize offers a variety of accessories such as carton sealers, gluers, strapping machines, printers and scanners, designed to increase throughput and reduce labor.
Most cartons need to be identified or marked with bar codes, labels, or print.
Packages can be automatically sorted by purchase order, customer, or destination and placed on specific pallets or into assigned trucks.
Gathering accurate analytical data is important to review productivity and make future improvements.
PackNet® software provides the necessary level of business logic and framework to accomplish On Demand Packaging® functionality, such as the ability to prioritize box production, meet workflows, manage multiple machines, and create insightful reports.
The following matrix demonstrates levels of automation versus integration in a warehouse environment.
A warehouse with low integration and low automation essentially has stand-alone machines with work being done by a human operator who enters box sizes manually.
A higher level of automation is achieved when a packaging machine receives required product dimensions from a scanning table, which then inputs the dimensions into the machine. With the weight also being measured, the machine can then generate a shipping label. Once the product is packed into the box by a person or automatically, it can be pushed down the line and automatically sealed and sorted into the right shipping lane.
With high integration and low automation, the Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system generates an order, which sends data to the WMS that tells the machine to make a right-sized box. Essentially, high integration means the data flows into and out of the packaging area to create the work for operators to pack manually. Still, there are higher expectations of the person in the packaging area to pack, seal, and label a box.
High integration and high automation achieve the most efficiently streamlined process to pack products with the least amount of human assistance.
It’s clear that using automated machine systems can increase packing efficiency while cutting costs through both waste and damage reduction. But what’s the best approach in customizing a packaging solution for your warehouse environment?
Assessing your current packaging operation is critical in identifying where productivity issues may occur and assisting in determining needed process improvements. In the next chapter we will look at how each warehouse environment directly affects the approach