How a Packaging System Line Layout Can Increase Efficiency

How A Packaging System Line Layout Can Increase Efficiency

Choosing the correct packaging machine for any given project includes considering the space available and the layout of the production floor.  Obviously, ensuring the equipment will fit into the production space is a must, but the configuration of the machinery on the floor can also help to reach optimum performance and efficiency.  
There is, as any packager knows, more to the packaging process than just the machinery.  In order to function, the machines need bottles, caps, labels and other items.  To function correctly, the packaging line will need to be replenished with these items as needed throughout the production day.  When laying out the filling machine, capping machine and other equipment that will use these accessories, the packager needs to consider the ease with which the items can be retrieved and replenished.  While taking one minute out of a day to retrieve and replace caps, for instance, may not seem like much, consider that doing so three times a day over a one year period can result in the loss of multiple hours of work, then multiple that by not just the caps, but bulk product, labels, fitments or any other item used in the process.  Setting up the packaging line and production floor in a manner to make necessary items easily accessible can significantly reduce downtime and make production more efficient.
Along the same lines, a packager needs to consider the source of the bulk product that is used on the line.  Some facilities may make or mix product on site, while others may have product delivered in bulk containers.  Designing a line layout that makes delivery of bulk product simple can save time and energy in the same way as making the other components described above accessible.  If the product is produced on site, a packager might consider setting up the line as near to the product supply as possible, allowing for simple delivery to the filling machine.  If the product is received from another location, the delivery site should be taken into account when setting up the line, again making the bulk product as accessible as possible to the filling machinery.
When deciding where to place packaging machinery on a production floor, the necessary utilities must also be taken into account.  Equipment may require air, electric, plumbing or, in most cases, some combination of all of the above.  The line layout can allow a packager to see the proper location for drops, plumbing, air compressors and other necessities that will avoid excess wires, cables, hose and cords, helping to keep the process safe for the operators and, ultimately, increasing the efficiency of the process.
Finally, the line layout should take into account the process that takes place after the rinse, fill, cap and label have been completed.  Whether packing product by hand or whether the process is completed once again by case packers, bundling machinery, pallet wrappers and/or other packing machines, the end of the packaging line should assist in the efficient packing and shipping preparation of the product.  For instance, if the shipping dock sits at the east side of the plant, it may make sense to have the packaging line running west to east, minimizing the necessary movement of the finished product to save time.  If pallets are stored in a certain area of the production floor, ending the line near this area may make sense.  
Again, such considerations may seem insignificant at first, but consider the accumulated time that can be saved by producing the correct line layout for packaging equipment, it is a task that should not be overlooked.  Every production floor will run in its own unique way, and finding the optimal layout for equipment will ultimately provide extra efficiency that can effect the bottom line for packagers.  
For more information on packaging machinery and line layouts, LPS welcomes packagers to call and consult with our Packaging Specialists.