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6 efficient ways to streamline your entire packaging process

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When it comes to business development and the marketing mix, the importance of packaging is overlooked, even though it determines how consumers interact with products and affects their view of a brand, in addition to dictating how it is stored and transported, so your packaging process can be key to success.

Packaging is nothing new and has been used by humans for thousands of years to carry and protect goods. There have been many developments in the field of packaging during the modern era and packaging now offers various benefits including:

  • Protection of products from damage in transit and being handled

  • Informing customers; ingredients or materials used, instructions for use, features, price, and unique selling points

  • Better hygiene; goods are kept clean by being protected from bacteria, dirt, and viruses

  • Attracting consumers; visually pleasing or interesting products are more likely to be picked up

  • Build brand awareness and recognition; the design of the packaging should include a logo, key visual, and tag lines to make a product stand out from its competitors

Another thing to note about product packaging is the different materials available such as aluminum, cardboard, foam, glass, paper, plastic, and wood.

Ways to streamline the packaging process

Packaging is an essential part of getting a product to market, however, it is also important that businesses put some resources and time into ensuring packaging processes are as efficient as possible so that profit margins remain healthy. To help any business managers or owners who are looking to make their operations less costly, here are some methods to help streamline the packaging process.

  1. Automate Where Possible

For mass-market products, packaging means repeating the same actions thousands of times which of course cannot easily be done using human hands or outdated and slow machinery. Therefore, most packaging is now carried out by machinery, for example assembling boxes is often done by an automatic case erector which can put together boxes and cases much faster and more accurately than if done by hand. There are of course many other pieces of process-specific automated machinery and equipment found in packaging plants such as conveyors, case packers, bagging and filling machines, inspection systems, robots, smart sensors, and stretch wrappers.

Automating the whole packaging process or parts of it that are causing bottlenecks will often lead to greater ability to meet orders on time and efficiency savings due to less waste and lower labor costs.

2. Organize the Production Floor

Disorganized and messy packaging plants are more often than not a money drain as hundreds of hours in labor could be lost every month due to employees wasting time either looking for tools or constantly moving from one workstation to the next.

The efficiency improvements in packaging processes afforded by a well-organized factory floor and a seamless workflow can result in lower labor costs, a shorter lead time, and more orders being completed on time.

Before implementing any changes to a packaging plant’s layout, managers are advised to analyze and evaluate the current setup and workflow. The purpose of this is to discover areas of work and tasks that require efficiency and productivity improvements.

Once all the areas for improvement have been identified, plant managers then need to design a floor plan that allows for:

  • The convenient and tidy storage of supplies and tools

  • A seamless production line where products and packaging move from one workstation to the next without any stoppages or hindrances

  • Easy access to machinery and work stations for working on tasks or undertaking maintenance and repairs

  • The safe and simple movement of employees around the production line and workspaces without any obstacles or hazards

3. Use the Correct Size Packaging

Depending on the range of products a business is packaging, it may have a variety of box, case, and carton sizes in stock. However, it is not a great idea to use any old packaging that is available on hand to pack goods into as this is likely to waste packaging materials, increase transportation costs and possibly result in the products being damaged, all of which will affect the bottom line. Therefore, businesses that package products need to spend time on optimizing the packaging dimensions for each product which can be done using specialized software and dimensioning scale so that the perfect size packaging can be selected.

4. Preventative Maintenance

Breakdowns of machinery on an automated packaging line are not uncommon and often lead to downtime, unexpected costs, and late or canceled orders. Although businesses can avoid these problems if they implement a policy of preventative maintenance which aims to reduce the risk of unexpected downtimes by following a routine and schedule of regular maintenance checks and repair work on packaging machinery, ideally during quieter times of the day when production is already slowed or stopped.

5. Improve Staff Training

One of the most important factors affecting efficiency and productivity in any business is the level of employee training. For packaging processes to run smoothly and safely, all staff members should understand how to complete their tasks, operate equipment and machinery, prevent malfunctions and work within safety guidelines.

Introductory, refresher, and new equipment training are essential in almost every job to develop and maintain better productivity and positive work culture, which is no different for employees working on packaging lines.

6. Reduce Waste

Nowadays, many consumers are concerned about the ecological and environmental effects of products and their packaging, and over recent years there has been vocal criticism of plastic packaging. To avoid losing customers, businesses have responded to this by eliminating or reducing plastic packaging and implementing other changes to improve efficiency and decrease energy and resource usage.

Waste produced during the packaging process can be minimized using multiple methods and tactics including:

  • Reducing the weight of the packaging resulting in lower transportation costs due to lower fuel consumption

  • Designing packaging so it can easily be recycled involves avoiding mixing or attaching different materials together that can make recycling impossible or unnecessarily complicated

  • Shredding old cardboard and paper packaging into fibers or strips to be used as padding inside boxes or cases

Even though the packaging process in a business can sometimes be overlooked, it shouldn’t be as it is a vital part of successfully marketing a product. However, it has to be said that packaging processes can soon become costly and detrimental to a business’s profitability if managed poorly and inefficiencies are allowed to set in. That being said, competent and professional managers are always looking for ways to achieve efficiency savings and improvements in productivity such as those suggested in this article.

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