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How to Improve Packaging Line Efficiency

Packaging lines are an integral component of businesses around the world. Whether they are fully manual, completely automated, or somewhere in between, they encompass a process that allows you to prepare your products to ship out to customers and end users all across the globeThat means that your line must create secure, effective packages that can protect your goods throughout the entire supply chain. For many people, this setup is far from the top of their minds when it comes to process improvements and cost reductions, but the packaging line is incredibly important. Today, we’re breaking down just how you can measure the efficiency of your line and how to improve packaging line efficiency in order to save time, money, and other resources. 

What is a Packaging Line?boxes moving down packaging line conveyor toward picking robots

Packaging lines are the process during which your products are placed into packaging materials, such as boxes or mailers, and prepared for shipment. Depending on a company’s specific needs, this is also the process where void fills like air pillows or foam are also placed into the container. At the end of the packaging line, the box, mailer, or other containment is sealed and, if necessary, palletized and unitized with other products before it hits the road (or air, sea, or railway!)Packaging lines can be totally automatic and made up of only automated equipment or they can be 100% manual, with just human operators taking care of all packaging by hand. However, most packaging lines tend to fall somewhere in the middle with a mix of manual labor and automatic machinery. Understanding your own unique line is essential when trying to determine how to improve packaging line efficiency. 

How to Measure Your Packaging Line Efficiency

Before you begin to improve the efficiency of your packaging line, you must first measure its output. This is a fairly straightforward process, but it’s important to pay attention to detail and to be realistic about your capabilities and expectations. All you need to do is compare your anticipated or desired output against your actual output. When determining your anticipated output, keep in mind that every operation is different. If your packaging line is small and completely manual, you won’t produce nearly as many packages at the end of the day as a major corporation with a fully automated packaging line. After you’ve taken the time to measure your actual output, you may discover that the number is lower than what you initially expected. If this is the case, it’s time to look into how you can improve your packaging line efficiency. 

How Packaging Lines Slow Downrobot picking box from stack and placing onto packaging line conveyor

There are a huge number of factors that may contribute to a slow down or stop on your packaging line, but some are more common than others. When examining the efficiency of your line, you’ll want to consider a few key elements that may be causing more harm than you realize. Here are some questions to ask yourself:
  • Are your machines up to date and do you service them at regular intervals? 
  • How do you store your consumables? Are they exposed to humidity or temperature extremes?
Outdated machinery and damaged consumables are two of the fastest ways to halt your packaging line. If your equipment breaks down, you may be forced to stop your line altogether while getting it repaired or replaced, and you can’t send products to paying customers if there’s no way to package them. Alternately, damaged consumables may result in significant slowdowns. For example, if you use corrugated boxes and keep them stored somewhere with significant humidity, they may end up warping before they reach your packaging line. A warped box is more difficult to put together, no matter whether a machine or a person is doing the construction. 

Tips for Improving Your Packaging Line Efficiency

Thankfully, there are a few simple ways that you can quickly improve your packaging line efficiency:
  1. Ensure that your machines are given routine maintenance checks and service. This will keep them operating in the best condition possible and drastically reduce the chance that they may break down and cause packaging line delays. 
  2. Maintain an optimal consumable supply. By stocking the right amount of consumables (this amount varies from business to business), you can prevent packaging line halts that come as a result of material outages. 
  3. Seamlessly integrate and synchronize your packaging equipment. If your packaging line features more than one piece of automated machinery, make sure they can work together and with your team members to prevent bottlenecks and backups. 
  4. Train your staff. Give your operators the thorough training needed to properly run all machinery, construct all packaging materials, and get your products out the door securely and on time. 

We Can Help with That

If you know that it’s time to find the right way (or ways) to improve your packaging line efficiency, we can help with that. IPS Packaging & Automation is standing by to assist you in finding the ideal solutions, whether it may be a new style of corrugated box, a fully automatic stretch wrapper, or something in between, to make your packaging line the very best it can be. Contact us today!