Packaging automation eliminates the need for humans to pack objects thanks to the use of machines. Whereas it might take a team some time to carefully package objects, a machine can complete these repetitive tasks–including picking, sorting, wrapping, and boxing–in less time and with reduced risk of product damage and downtime.
As companies look for ways to reduce costs while increasing efficiency, automated packaging systems are a cost-efficient solution that delivers the versatility, reliability, and quality that businesses need for their logistics. They allow companies to keep up with demand, reduce costs, and better distribute labor for an improved bottom line.
As the global market for automated packaging continues to grow, let’s take a closer look at how packaging automation is changing logistics, as well as the benefits and challenges of these systems.
How Automated Packaging Systems Can Transform Logistics
Trading manual packaging for high-speed automated packaging has the potential to save factory floor space, as machines take up less space than manual packaging lines.
Automated packaging can also improve the accuracy of specific components of packing, such as choosing the right box size, selecting protective materials used for packaging, and determining item packing order. These improvements will save time, prevent damage to items, and reduce material waste.
There are a variety of packaging automation options available, ranging from fully automated solutions to semi-automated ones. With semi-automated machines, humans work alongside robots to properly package items, which helps companies streamline processes and cultivate better resilience to labor shortages.
Automated packaging can transform loading dock operations by speeding up the loading and unloading of goods and reducing the potential for worker injury or accidents. It’s also easier to scale these machines to work faster or slower as needed, especially as companies struggle to add more workers during busy seasons or lay off workers during slow ones. They can also benefit from streamlined automation, in which all machines are connected and can communicate with each other to reduce waiting time, and increase the efficiency of loading and unloading processes.
With automated solutions, there are fewer touchpoints throughout the packing process. This means fewer opportunities for goods to be mishandled or damaged before they make it to their destination.
Benefits of Automated Packaging Machines
Utilizing an industrial robot or cobot as an automated packaging machine or part of the packaging process has many benefits over traditional packing solutions when implemented effectively. By automating packing processes, companies see benefits such as:
- Improved resilience to labor shortages, especially during busy seasons
- Enhanced productivity, as machines can work 24/7
- Reducing worker injuries from repetitive motions or heavy lifting
- Lower risk for packaging errors that can lead to damage
- Improved consistency in packaging quality and accuracy
With these long-term benefits, companies can ultimately improve their operations, customer satisfaction, lead time, and bottom line.
Packaging Automation Solutions: Current Challenges
To provide the highest return on investment, automated packaging systems need to be adaptable and flexible enough to handle a wide variety of objects. As packaging robots become more versatile and easy to integrate into existing packaging and management systems, it’s expected that more companies will adopt this technology.
As with any machinery that collects and utilizes data, security remains a concern. Businesses must have proper cybersecurity when their machines handle data, so if they lack the resources to securely integrate robotics into their packaging processes, they may hold off on investing in these solutions.
Smaller companies can struggle to justify the cost of robotics in packaging; however, considering that these machines can pay for themselves in as few as one to two years and the long-term benefits they provide, robotics are well worth the investment.
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Have you automated your packaging processes yet? Do you need to reevaluate your existing packaging machinery to ensure maximum efficiency? Download your free infographic about our process for customizing robotics for your automated packaging systems to discover how we can help you take full advantage of packaging technology.