Advanced robotics and leading-edge software are finding creative efficiencies in storage, packaging, and distribution.
Automated packaging solutions have a host of benefits for any manufacturing business. But the material handling capabilities of robotic technology and leading-edge automation software aren’t limited to packing items in containers. There’s more to getting your products from the factory floor to the loading dock, and automation provides opportunities to increase productivity at every step along the way.
Packaging automation technology touches every aspect of logistics, and the advantages add up—especially in warehouses and distribution centers, where storage, transport, packing, and shipping make up a larger part of day-to-day activities. Introducing automation to any one task can streamline your storage and shipping. But if a larger network of automated systems is right for your business, it can transform your logistics and distribution operations.
Here are four ways automated packaging systems can reinvent your logistics workflows.
1. Safe, consistent, and scalable.
Labor is often the first thing people think of when considering the advantages of automation, and with good reason. Packaging is especially hard on workers, where repetitive movements combined with lifting and twisting motions can take a heavy toll. Robots, working either alone or in collaboration with human workers, can perform a set of programmed motions precisely, consistently, and with no risk of injury.
Automated systems also scale with your business needs, so when demand increases, you’re not left struggling with production bottlenecks and staffing shortfalls.
2. More efficient use of resources.
Packaging items in a too-big container means using void-fill material, spending extra on shipping, and risking quality or customer satisfaction issues. With access to real-time information on outbound items, advanced automation software can rightsize packaging to cut down on shipping costs and empty space. Automation systems can even create custom-sized packaging on the fly, reducing decision-making time and the need to store multiple sizes of packing materials.
When multiple items are going out in a single package, either from a distribution center or as part of a kit, collecting the items and deciding on the best way to package them takes time. Advanced automation software can assemble kits for you and optimize cartonization, minimizing empty space in boxes and keeping shipping costs down. With access to your shipping data, automation systems can identify multiples of the same type of product going out, and take advantage of batch processing to package them as efficiently as possible. Packaging software can even work side-by-side in distribution centers with automated pickers, selecting items directly into their shipping containers to streamline your workflow.
But top-to-bottom packaging automation isn’t the only way to boost your operations. Even partial automation can provide huge benefits. Robotic carton constructors and sealers can take over these repetitive tasks, allowing manual operators to focus on more complex work. Even freight rating can be automated so that workers don’t have to weigh and label packages by hand.
3. Better storage for better retrieval.
Sorting products, stacking them for temporary and longer-term storage, palletizing them for easy transport, and loading them into trucks for delivery are all steps in the process that provide perfect opportunities for automation. Leading-edge vision systems and other detection systems can sort items by size, shape, and weight, and determine the safest configuration for storage or palletization.
Retrieving items from a storage shelf or a delivery truck also takes time, and automated warehousing can optimize the way shelves or trucks are loaded so that the items you need first are the first ones available. Robotic technology can quickly stack and palletize items to take them straight from the factory floor to the loading dock, cutting down on heavy lifting for workers and protecting the quality of your product with reliably secure packaging.
4. Get the most out of your space.
Maximizing the use of floor space is a top priority in manufacturing. When space is at a premium, automated systems can streamline your processes and help you cut down on storage and staging space needs. When automated packaging technology is selecting the right size container for your items in real-time, or constructing custom-fit containers, you don’t need to keep as many packaging options on hand and accessible. You also need less void-fill material, freeing up inventory space.
Your warehouse also benefits from automation. Sorting and loading processes can palletize and stack products in ways that make the best use of your space, allowing you to either shrink your overall warehouse footprint, or making it more cost affordable to expand your inventory. Meanwhile, advanced software can organize storage in a way that makes locating and retrieving items simple and fast.
Automated packaging systems transform logistics from factory floor to loading dock and beyond.
Robotics and leading-edge software take incremental gains in each step of the logistics workflow and combine them into game-changing efficiencies. The consistency of automated packaging systems reduces rework and waste, driving down costs and keeping your business greener. Automation takes the guesswork out of logistics by performing repetitive tasks with precision and using real-time data to optimize transport and storage—all of which combine to give your logistics employees a solid foundation for success.
At Eagle, we work with you to find the right automation solutions for your logistics needs. Our packaging capabilities include bag and case loading, conveyor systems, kitting, palletizing, sorting, stacking, and more, while our advanced robotics capabilities are equal to any task your team can imagine. Contact us today to talk about what packaging automation can do for your logistics and distribution operations.
Eagle Technologies, headquarters in Bridgman, MI