Lean processes, which maximise value through continuous process improvement and elimination of waste, are something of a holy grail in the manufacturing industry. Production operations that run ‘lean’ are held up as shining examples of best practice through the manufacturing industry, while operating in a ‘lean’ way is something that almost all production managers strive for on a daily basis.

Is packaging a roadblock on your journey to ‘lean’?

Yet while many aim for optimum efficiency within their manufacturing, the processes that are peripheral to their core business often stand in the way of achieving a truly slick operation. This, of course, is completely understandable. If the fundamental function of your job is to ensure that the products your company manufactures are perfect, then that will be what you focus on.

However, if your products get broken or damaged in transit, then no matter how efficient your production processes are, you are not maximising value. Equally, if the components or products arriving at your warehouse take too long to reach the areas where they’re stored, you are not eliminating waste or optimising efficiencies.

Quite simply, there is more to lean manufacturing that what happens on your production line. If you want to run a truly lean operation, then considering every point at which packaging impacts on your production supply chain is essential. That means reconsidering the way in which goods and components are unloaded and moved around your warehouse, the way in which goods are picked and packed, the boxes in which products are packed for shipping and the pallets on which boxes are shipped.

Are you missing efficiency savings in packaging?

Continuous process improvement means identifying inefficiencies, but if you’re not a packaging expert then you may be unaware of how much faster your packaging line could run. Helping clients find ways to increase their packaging efficiency is something we do every day at Antalis Packaging. We work with them to assess all of the points at which packaging is involved in their particular production process – from the moment that goods are delivered to the warehouse door right through to the point at which products reach the end customer.

For example, using an automated stretch-wrapping machine to wrap items on arrival can speed up unloading, as well as making it easier and safer to move them around. Alternatively, if efficiencies need to be made on the packaging line itself, introducing a case-erector and automated sealing machine or switching to boxes with crash-lock bottoms could speed up the time taken to build the boxes into which items are packed.

If you want your packaging to be as lean as the rest of your business, then you need to ensure that every step in the process – from goods-in through to distribution – is as efficient as possible. Truly lean production demands a lean approach to packaging. How lean is yours?