It can be frustrating when you know your production process should be more efficient than it is, but it can sometimes be difficult to put your finger on just where the issue lies.

If you are a manufacturer, you will probably have already looked at all the stages of the manufacture and assembly process to eliminate inefficiencies; or if you’re involved in logistics, you might have optimised all aspects of your picking processes and task allocation. You might even have already looked at elements of your packaging process.  But if your operation is still struggling with any of the following issues then it might be time to review your packaging process in full:

  • Late deliveries
  • Deliveries not getting out on time
  • Struggling to cope with seasonal peaks in demand
  • Your workforce aren’t as productive as you would like them to be
  • Your packaging costs, particularly your cost per pack, are too high

Here’s five ways you can improve the efficiency of your packaging process:

1. Tailor your workflow

Start by looking at all your packaging touchpoints: from goods in to goods out, and at every point in between where packaging of any description is involved. You might be surprised by just how much it features and by the multiple ways in which changes to your packaging process, large and small, can potentially save you significant amounts of time and money.

2. Are you spending too long assembling cartons?

How you assemble your cartons ready to pack can make a big difference to the number of units per day your staff can complete. There are numerous packaging materials on the market that can speed up your packaging process. For example, using a wide tape that requires the application of only one strip to seal a box rather than the two or three that are often used in inefficient packaging processes.

Changing to ‘crash lock’ bottom boxes can speed up the assembly process considerably. For one Antalis Packaging customer, using ‘crash lock’ bottom boxes made its box processing time three times faster.

3. Identify the points where automation or semi-automation can add most value

Introducing machinery to the parts of your packaging line that are relatively straightforward but time-consuming can save valuable time, freeing staff to focus on tasks requiring more thought or manual dexterity. For example, some automated or semi-automated case erectors can assemble up to 25 cases per minute, while at the end of the packaging process you could use automated stretch-wrapping to increase the speed palletised loads can be tightly secured, while also reducing the need for manual intervention and maximising the yield from each roll of film.

Here’s how Antalis Packaging helped one customer to speed up the wrapping of pallets by 70%, reduce packaging waste by 75% and gain cost savings of over 60%.

4. Consider where you can add greater flexibility

Introducing greater flexibility to your packaging line will make it easier to cope with any peaks in demand when you really need to speed up your packaging process. As well as adding automated or semi-automated machinery as discussed above, review the materials you are using. Are there other products that could help your staff to work more efficiently? For example, specialist packaging materials such as suspension packaging and retention inserts, which eliminate the need for void fill.

5. Ensure your packaging quality is consistent

Poor and inconsistent quality packaging can have knock-on effects that all add to the pressures placed on Production Managers and Logistics Managers.

Lack of consistency in packaging can lead to loads becoming unstable, which means they have to be restacked or, in worst cases, packaging and their contents can be damaged. Not only does this affect the speed and efficiency of your operation but it can also damage your brand’s reputation with your customers.  These factors become particularly heightened during peaks in demand.

However, using good quality packaging materials that are optimised for your packaging process, combined with introducing automated or semi-automated machinery, such as an automated stretch-wrapping solution, at key stages in your process can reduce the likelihood of damage and make a significant difference to the speed, efficiency and profitability of your operation.

Want to learn more? Download this free guide to speeding up your packaging.