K2 Kinetics has acquired Robotic Packaging Machinery. Learn more ›

Take this approach to gradually improve your production

If automation is something your company is planning, it could have greater benefits than the automation itself. It could help you identify the issues in your production lines that are inefficient or problematic, and correct them.

To my surprise, my customer actually wanted faulty cartons to get through.

I, of course, was concerned, because the improperly formed cartons would cause the automated carton loader I was installing to stop, creating a bottleneck in the line. I began to suggest developing a way to detect and reject the defective cartons, but he said no.

Scrapped cartons were a huge expense to his company, he explained to me, and detecting them before entering the carton loader does nothing to solve the problem. Instead, he wanted the focus to be upstream, squarely where the problem was.

Taking the path of least resistance

This is something I see fairly frequently in my work with food packaging companies.  There is a tendency to address the symptoms of any defects or production problems, especially in the case of small and medium-sized food packing companies.

It’s understandable. There is tremendous pressure to get products out the door and take the path of least resistance. Addressing the root cause of a problem might cause a short-term interruption in production, which can be tough to swallow.

But that approach also prevents companies from reaching their full operational efficiency. It essentially puts a cap on their production and affects expenses, profitability and production.

Instead, companies should consider the foresight of the customer mentioned above, and address production problems where they occur.

And there is a good way that small and medium-sized food packing companies can accomplish that.

Incremental approach

As competition heats up and labor costs increase, many companies are turning to automation to stay competitive. It helps them increase efficiency and productivity. There is an additional benefit to automating, as it helps manufacturers see the stark reality of any production problems they have.

Often, manufacturers are not even aware of the production problems they have and the degree to which their production is being held down. The process of implementing an automated process can make those problems stand out, as they did with my customer in the example above, so they can be properly addressed.

The key is to automate your production in manageable increments, rather than all at once. This has two advantages for small and medium-sized companies.

First, it allows you to identify and and address production issues one or two at a time. This makes it easier and more manageable to gradually improve your production, automating one operation at a time and dialing in all of the pieces around it.

Second, it keeps your capital outlay at a manageable level, allowing you to get a return on your investment more quickly.  It also reduces the risk of large automation projects that might not deliver on the promised returns.  

If automation is something your company is planning, it could have greater benefits than the automation itself. It could help you identify the issues in your production lines that are inefficient or problematic, and correct them.

 
RPM Case Packing and Carton Loading Products
View Details
View Details
View Details
View Details
 
Request a Quote