You know the old saying “Finish strong”? Perhaps it was something your dad cheered you on with as you finished up a track race as a kid, or maybe it’s a phrase your cycling coach says to you as you near the end of each workout. It’s a powerful sentiment and one that, we argue, can be extended far beyond the realm of sports. Today, we’re applying this concept to the food manufacturing packaging process—specifically, to end-of-line packaging. We’re digging into strategies you can use to improve the efficiency of your end-of-line packaging, thus leading to a “strong finish” as you prepare your product for transport. Ready? Let’s dive in.
The Importance of Efficiency
Many aspects of food packaging vary from industry to industry. After all, processing and packing chicken is quite different from packing fresh blueberries. But, no matter the industry or product being packaged, most food manufacturers are always on the lookout for ways to improve their overall efficiency.
Efficiency is critical for many reasons:
● It helps reduce costs associated with labor, materials, and shipping.
● It reduces employees’ time spent on repetitive, mundane tasks.
● It leads to significant time savings and quicker turnaround times.
● It contributes to sustainability efforts by minimizing waste.
● It provides a solid foundation for scalability and growth.
These are just a few of the many reasons efficiency is important. But how can manufacturers
actually improve their end-of-line packaging efficiency? Here are three key areas to consider:
1. Simplify your system
Many food manufacturers use an end-of-line packing system that relies on a combination of
technology and manual packaging. For instance, they might utilize machinery to assemble and
tape cases but rely on workers to pack the individual products into each case. Switching to
automated machines to perform all of these tasks—from case forming to case packing to case
closing—can significantly increase efficiency.
Utilizing an automated case former, case packer, and case closer to perform all of these tasks
can increase the speed of end-of-line packaging. And, by having machines perform these tasks,
workers can engage in higher-impact, more challenging (and fulfilling) work. Not to mention,
with today’s advanced technology, case packers can automatically detect when the wrong
number of packages is packed into a case and automatically remove that case from the line.
This means that, by switching to automated machinery for your packaging line, you can not only
save time and labor but also have greater quality control.
2. Consider your case size
After looking for ways to simplify your case packing system, the next thing to consider is your
case size. If your case is larger than is necessary to hold your product, this can result in
significant inefficiency for your manufacturing line. Here’s how:
Let’s imagine your line runs 75 bags per minute, 75 hours per week, and that each case holds
30 bags. 75 hours x 60 minutes per hour x 75 bags per minute = 337,500 bags per week.
337,500 ÷ 30 bags per case = 11,250 cases per week. If 10% of each case is air (aka wasted
space) that means you’re “packing” 1,125 cases of air per week. And not only that—you’re
paying to ship and transport that air. All that empty space adds up, and utilizing a case that is
too large for your product means you’re wasting money on excess packaging materials,
shipping, and more.
Using the smallest possible case size for your product maximizes efficiency. It ensures you
aren’t paying to transport empty space, that you can fit as many cases as possible on a pallet,
and that you aren’t wasting money on excess materials. It also means you’re improving the
sustainability of your manufacturing operations, which is good for you and for our planet.
3. Evaluate your materials
Our third and final consideration for end-of-line packaging efficiency: Consider the materials
you’re using. This goes hand in hand with ensuring you’re using the smallest case size possible.
Just to be clear: We aren’t advocating that you use flimsy or unstable packaging materials for
the sake of efficiency. The materials you use need to be sturdy enough for the job they do. But,
using machinery that is able to handle thinner, weaker boards—and, ideally, that is equipped to
completely enclose the case during packing to ensure it forms correctly and palletizes well—can
help improve your line’s efficiency.
If you use over-designed packaging, switching to a lighter (but sufficient) alternative can help
make your operations more efficient. Thinner materials require less raw materials, weigh less,
take up less space, and are less expensive to transport. Using thinner, lighter alternatives allows
you to load more cases on a pallet, and makes it easier for those lifting and moving cases when
they go to stock products. Though it might seem like a simple shift, using lighter and more
compact packaging materials can lead to significant gains in efficiency.
Wrapping Up: End-of-Line Packaging Efficiency
Efficiency is critical for food manufacturers: It saves them time and resources, helps them
improve their sustainability efforts, streamlines their processes, makes it easier to scale their
operations, and more. And by focusing on the efficiency of your end-of-line packaging system,
you can ensure a “strong finish” for your product.
Case Packing Systems produces reliable, tailor-made case packers to meet your product line’s
distinct needs. Our machines are easy to operate, quick to change over, and able to handle
thinner (and thus more efficient) materials well. Connect with us today and learn how our
solutions can help you improve your end-of-line packaging efficiency.