Is it time for a packaging equipment upgrade?
The equipment you choose can make or break your packaging—and even your product. So how do you know when it’s time for an upgrade? “There are key signs that indicate it is time to evaluate the situation,” says Julius Little, Director, Equipment and Load Containment Solutions with Veritiv.
- Your equipment is antiquated and challenging to maintain, and may even pose a safety risk.
- Your business is rapidly growing, and your equipment simply can’t keep up with demand or production needs.
- Seasonal demands and labor shortage cause strain on your operation.
CHECKLIST: ASSESS YOUR SITUATION
Packaging equipment specialists, who have expertise across different equipment manufacturers, can help you assess your situation and understand the best equipment for your needs, keep costs in check and ensure ROI. Here are a few questions you can ask yourself and your team.
- Are you experiencing challenges keeping up with demand due to frequent equipment issues?
Bottlenecks in your packaging process can make it more difficult to meet customer expectations and could hurt your bottom line. Taking time to track equipment downtime is important, as the information can help evaluate how reliable it is and when it might be time for service. “Equipment specialists evaluate the process as well as the equipment—sometimes the type of packaging material isn’t compatible with certain equipment,” says Little.
- Is your equipment challenging to fix or maintain, and does it lack safety features?
As equipment ages, the cost and availability of parts may start to be an issue. Be sure to keep a record of all maintenance issues and downtime. OSHA-trained technicians can assess your equipment’s safety, and install fencing, guarding or photo-sensing. For instance on shrink wrapping systems, if workers get their hands too close to sealing blades, photo-sensing equipment will shut down the system before an injury occurs. Robotic equipment can also automate repetitive motion among your workforce, which may help reduce safety incidences.
- Are your labor costs climbing or are you having difficulty finding labor?
Labor costs continue to rise every year, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.1Automation helps reduce labor and material costs, and helps boost productivity. For instance, a simple stretch wrapper can reduce film costs by 50 percent.2 “Automation is helping companies redeploy labor to more critical tasks that contribute to improved operational efficiency,” says Little.
Preventative maintenance and employee training help keep your equipment up and running. Regular maintenance visits, and labeling equipment with service, parts and contact information enable your employees to call a certified technician quickly to reduce downtime.
A packaging partner with a network of certified technicians can also help ensure consistent service as your company moves or opens new locations. Equipment technology is always evolving—just like your business and customer needs. Use the tips above as you consider improving or deploying new packaging equipment.
Packaging Unwrapped magazine
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1“Productivity and Costs.” U.S. Department of Labor. March, 2018.
2“A Plant Manager’s Guide to Stretch Wrap Equipment and Savings.” Lantech. September, 2017.