The benefits of finding the proper packaging for your business
Packaging is all around us. There’s an entire sector of materials science devoted to figuring out new and innovative ways to package things. Just about any good that we receive, with the exception of certain fruits and vegetables, comes to us in packaging.
And yet many warehouse operations and large businesses still approach packaging the same way you’d have expected fifty years ago. Failing to keep up with the latest trends can result in a loss of efficiency, damaged product and excessive overhead costs. Here’s what your business might be missing when it comes to packaging.
Efficient Packaging Makes Businesses Profitable
It might not be realistic for your company to only put hands on the physical package one time, however, you should aim to fully understand the packaging process at your company so that you can begin to reduce the number of times a package is handled. For example, if a process has people moving packages that are earmarked for shipping from one location to another before shipping out, you should work on eliminating that “extra work” and shipping them directly.
How can this be accomplished? One way to do it is with help from machines. In fact, industries like food packing are adopting robots as the go-to solution for a huge variety of applications. The initial investment of deploying such a system is high, however, they never miss work, don’t demand a salary, and have a much lower likelihood of messing up their task than a human.
Saving Space Increases Productivity
Really consider how you can maximize your shelf space. Every inch you can get back means the ability, to move products more rapidly. After all, packaging that saves space on your shelves will also occupy less space in a container or commercial truck. Consider adjoining containers with adhesive to make moving them simpler if your product is lightweight, for example.
The type of packaging you use can be a space-saver in itself. For example, changing to a rectangular-shaped container from a circular one can vastly improve efficiency and save you money on shipping costs. That means millions in the bank when it aggregates over time.
Remember the way that computer software was packaged in the 1990s? The boxes were large and bright, leftover from the era of 80s floppy disk programs, but when you opened the box all that was inside was a cardboard bracket holding a jewel-case with a CD in it.
Not surprisingly, manufacturers moved away from this wasteful packaging because it was driving the costs to package a single program up and there was no justifiable ROI from the larger format packaging.
- Healthy Maintenance Saves Long-Term Costs
Many businesses resist servicing their packaging line because of the costs associated with it, only to see machines break. When your packaging line goes down, business slows or even stops. The trade-off in servicing your packing line equipment regularly is that you can commit to solid uptime. That means a more reliable revenue stream without un-planned dips in productivity.
What are some ways that you can improve your current maintenance practices? Start by planning for maintenance ahead of time. Have a schedule for maintenance that avoids work hours if possible, and be sure the entire company can quickly find and make sense of it. Hold meetings to discuss the best maintenance windows based on trends from the last year’s data, and have a protocol for when a maintenance task goes wrong.
Data Makes Everything Better
Speaking of using data to inform your maintenance schedule, you should be collecting and aggregating as much data as possible from your packaging operation to inform future decisions. For example, understanding when your packaging line will require maintenance based on the number of units processed and then comparing that against your forecasted business for the coming year.
This will allow you to avoid surprises and be strategic about when you choose to conduct upgrades, hold service windows, or postpone maintenance operations. It will also help make an argument for new ways of moving product, allowing you to spot bottlenecks that can be eliminated to drive ROI up in the future.
For example, if the sintered metal bands you’re using are failing on the production line and resulting in a damaged product, you can attribute the time lost to a specific dollar amount and make a decision to institute hot melt adhesives. The new adhesives might require some small changes to your process which have given you pause because of the loss in efficiency that will come with implementing them, but by looking at the data you can see that the stronger, cheaper adhesive is ultimately a better way to go.
So if you thought that packaging was unimportant before, hopefully, this article has helped change the way you look at things. Having an effective, efficient packaging line that uses the right materials and performs consistently is a critical part of your business. Have you got a good tip for your fellow readers who are looking for ways to improve packaging operations? Share it in the comments section below.
Written by: Megan Ray Nichols, BOSS Contributor
Megan is a STEM writer and blogger at https://schooledbyscience.com/