4 Ways Packaging Automation Can Improve Efficiency In The Food Industry

Now, more than ever, companies in the food sector are being heavily relied upon to provide their products quickly and consistently. As demand rises, companies that haven’t automated their packaging process can soon find themselves behind the eight ball. Here are four examples of ways packaging automation can help improve a food company’s efficiency. 

Product Coding & Marking

Precision is extremely important in the food industry.  If products are misprinted and, consequently, mistracked and packaged incorrectly, a total recall must occur1. By integrating a full product labeling and tracking system, the risk of recall is significantly reduced. 

Product labeling helps companies maintain their quality and on-time accurate shipments by using high-speed date coding, barcodes, and tracking systems. Introducing a full product labeling system can decrease a company’s annual labeling budget by as much as 40%2. 

“Primary and Secondary product marking is an absolute must for traceability in food manufacturing.  As many businesses have unfortunately found out, a product recall can be quite costly. The best method to mitigate the impact of such an event is to have the ability to singulate the incident that caused the recall event, and to identify and remove faulty products from the market as efficiently as possible.” – Patrick O’Brien, Packaging Sales at RMH Systems

Oftentimes, to save space and time, companies incorporate scales into their thermal printers. By weighing products while labeling, it helps consolidate steps in the packaging process. Efficiency is always a bonus, so being able to expedite the process by handling two tasks at once is a great move for companies looking to boost their production.

With increasing demand on production, avoiding recalls and getting shipments out on time is extremely important to the cash flow of any organization. Accurate, high-volume product labeling and traceability helps protect food supply chains, protects margins, and ensures quality and safe output.  

Stretch Wrapping

Full stretch wrapping automation equates to significant cost savings.  Food producers that replace semi-automatic stretch wrapping with a fully automatic stretch wrapper have seen savings of over $29,000 in five years in labor costs alone, not to mention savings on the consumables. Those that make the jump from manual to automatic would be saving hundreds of thousands of dollars. By eliminating the need for employees to manually attach and cut the stretch film, companies can save two minutes per load3. If companies choose to use a stretch wrapper with a built-in scale, that can save them another $21,000 over those same five years and cut another minute and a half off each load3.

Every square foot in a factory has a dollar value. Automated stretch wrapping solutions have a single footprint as opposed to manual wrapping solutions that consist of multiple ‘stations’ or machines. This single footprint opens previously occupied space for other uses. This space could potentially house a second stretch wrapper.

Automating your stretch wrapping process can add an extra measure of quality assurance to food companies. Automating this process means that companies can expect uniform, high-quality, wrapped pallets leaving their warehouse. 

Palletizing

Robot labor cost (computed as the installed cost of the robot plus tooling and engineering), running 2 shifts, is calculated to be $2-$3 an hour4. This is significantly lower than the cost of labor in all domestic low-cost regions. 

Palletizing can help companies save over $120,000 a year just in labor costs5. The return on investment from robotic automation is increasingly easy to attain.  Many areas of the country are experiencing significant labor shortages – robots can fill that gap and they are extremely dependable.  All companies deal with workplace injuries – robots eliminate workplace injuries by removing employees from dangerous tasks. Robotic automation isn’t an investment aimed at eliminating jobs, it’s an investment in a company’s sustainable growth by shifting personnel into positions of value. 

With demand always increasing, quality is one of the first priorities to take a hit in manual operations.  Robotic palletizing builds dependable, consistent quality into production. Robotic palletizers produce consistent pallets and eliminate the issues that stem from mis-stacked pallets. 

Case Forming/Sealing

Case forming and sealing systems bring autonomy to the packaging process. Case sealers ensure that each case is properly and securely sealed. Cases that are improperly sealed can damage and possibly ruin the contents of a shipment sent from a food producer, which has an immediate negative impact on the bottom line.  

Case forming and sealing systems save companies time and increase safety by automating these simple processes. Case forming systems increase production of boxes from 4-5 a minute to 12-35 a minute6. These systems allow you to shift your human labor from a simple task like building boxes to a task where their time can be better utilized. Case formers also ensure a uniform and precise case every time, alleviating any concern of inconsistent packages.

Every line is different, so being able to have the right case sealing line for your process is crucial. The right case sealing solution can be matched to your application, whether glued or taped, high-speed or low-repetition.

These above examples demonstrate just a few ways companies in the food industry can boost efficiency and production. At RMH Systems, our team of packaging, material handling, and scale engineers can design and incorporate these equipment solutions into a fully integrated packaging system built for uptime, safety, quality, and ROI.  Want to automate your packaging process? Feel free to contact us!

1(https://www.refrigeratedfrozenfood.com/articles/90440-how-to-save-money-when-sourcing-millions-of-thermal-labels)

2https://scm.ncsu.edu/scm-articles/article/the-top-3-reasons-for-label-packaging-errors-in-food-manufacturing

3https://www.lantech.com/blog/five-ways-the-right-stretch-wrapper-can-drive-costs-down?region=1

4https://www.roboticsbusinessreview.com/manufacturing/pick-place-profit-using-robot-labor-save-money/

5https://www.mhlnews.com/technology-automation/article/22045502/robotic-palletizing-cuts-labor-costs

6https://www.packworld.com/machinery/secondary-end-of-line/article/13371388/case-packing-upgrade-brings-many-benefits

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