Partially Automating a Packaging Line
When new products hit the market, the popularity and demand for the product may not be well known. While contracts may be procured to give some idea of the shelf space that will need to be filled, the actual sales and the future demand can be hard to pin down. For this reason, many packagers may prepare product by hand from the start, taking the time to fill, cap, label and otherwise prepare a product using manual labor.
As demand grows and more contracts arrive, the time necessary to fulfill orders by hand may simply become inefficient with automation becoming a necessity. However, most packagers will not move from hand packaging straight to a completely automatic solution. Though every project is unique, there are generally two paths that a packager takes when demand grows and the move is made from hand packaging to automation.
Semi-automatic machinery will still use manual labor, but can increase speed and reliability over hand prepping products. For instance, a semi-automatic filler and a semi-automatic capping machine will each require an operator to complete the task at hand. The operator of the filling machine will place bottles under fill heads and initiate the fill cycle. Once completed, the operator will remove the bottles and repeat the process. Semi-automatic cappers usually require the operator to place a cap on the bottle and then slide the bottle and cap combination into the capping or sealing area. In addition to added speed in many situations, the filler ensures consistent fills by volume, level or other measurement, while the capping machine ensures that each seal is consistent to avoid over or under-tightening closures. While semi-automatic machinery can increase output, if demand continues to grow the packager may eventually consider fully automatic equipment.
Again, not all packagers will move to a completely automatic system. Instead, automatic machinery may be combined with hand packaging or semi-automatic packaging to create a more efficient system. If a packager spends four hours a day filling bottles and performing quality checks on those bottles, they may consider an automatic filling machine to cut back on the time necessary for completing the fill. Removing the manual labor from the filling process frees up workers to, for example, cap and label products once filled. As demand increases even more, the next time consuming process can be automated to create more speed and output. Automating the slowest process in a system can add efficiency one step at a time until the packager eventually upgrades to a fully automatic packaging line.
This process works with both semi-automatic and automatic packaging machinery, allowing a packager to slowly speed the process to meet current demand while also keeping the business cash flow free for marketing, labor, development of new products and any other business interests.
While some products may hit the market running and require full automation at the outset to meet demand, many different solutions exist for packagers to speed up their process while also adding reliability and consistency to the packaging. To learn more about the different solutions for packagers of all sizes, contact Liquid Packaging Solutions to discuss your project today.