As the Manager or Supervisor in charge of packaging, manufacturing and production floors, your goals for increased productivity and lower costs are almost always at the top of the priorities list.
According to many voices across the web, freight and labor costs as well as inventory control, including parts & service partners, are the main contributors to lower productivity and increasing costs. Not mentioned enough is how to impact these numbers, or where to begin.
By reviewing your packaging process and your overall production line, you can find several ways reduce your total cost of packaging and impact your labor numbers while improving efficiency. Here are the top seven ways that packaging can positively impact these numbers.
1. PREVENTIVE MAINTENANCE
Preventive maintenance of your machinery is at the top of the list for ways to improve productivity and increase uptime in manufacturing facilities. According to eMaint, many studies show that organizations spend as much as 80% of their time reacting to issues rather than planning ahead or preventing them. If you don’t have a preventive maintenance program in place for your packaging machinery (and the rest of your production floor, for that matter), you are allowing unscheduled downtime to control your costs.
Your current processes may be holding you back from greater productivity and reducing your costs of packaging. Depending on the structure of your production floor, you may be able to reduce labor count required by automating some (or all) of your packaging processes. The upfront cost of automation is often the decision-maker’s reason to stay the current course, but the true cost is missed. The cost of labor vs. the speed of return with automation provides a clear answer to those willing to look from a longer term point-of-view.
3. REDUCE DAMAGE
If you are seeing a large amount of product damaged before making it to the end-user or retailer, it may be worth reviewing your current packaging for your product and for your freight. Too much of this and you could be costing more than simply damage to your goods, but damage to your reputation with your customer. Determine the main cause of damaged goods by performing an audit of damages recorded during the past year.
If your product is damaged during shipment, there are several things to consider. You may need to increase the gauge (the thickness) of your stretch film if the products are not staying contained to the pallet for the duration of travel. Your film may be clinging to others and compromising the load. If you are shipping a lightweight product with a heavy-gauge stretch film, your product may be getting crushed with too much load containment. A tell-tale sign of this is heavy creasing in the corrugated box. In this case, you may want to go with a lighter gauge film, but that shouldn’t be decided until you remove any other potential causes of damage.
Verify that the film you are wrapping with is compatible with your machinery. Some stretch films are not designed for certain machines. Additionally, check the settings of your automatic or semi-automatic wrapper. If they are not adjusted for each type of load, this is a potential culprit. In any case, it will be in your benefit to discuss your situation with a packaging professional to determine the ideal film and load containment for each of your freight loads, or to determine the main cause of freight damage.
4. MATERIAL SELECTION
When is the last time you reviewed your product packaging? Are you using more packaging material than is really necessary for your product? Are you using the ideal material? With the vast selection of packaging options available and greener alternatives that meed the demands of large retailers and the consumer in general, reviewing your current product packaging must be taken into consideration. Certain shrink films can handle the heavy products by themselves where corrugated trays were needed in the past. Different packaging overhauls can drastically reduce your overall packaging costs. Don’t neglect the overall overhaul of your packaging over the next year.
5. BUY IN BULK
You may be purchasing your packaging materials on an as-needed basis, but if you have the space available you could be missing out on significant discounts. It’s important to remember that certain materials have expiration dates. Check with your supplier to find out how long the product you are bringing in is good for. If you end up purchasing more for the discounted pricing but end up with more on-hand than you can use within that time-frame, you may be stuck with useless goods that are taking up space and adding to your costs. You can find significant discounts on your packaging materials by ordering in bulk, so keep this on your list to review when investigating ways to reduce your packaging costs.
6. REDUCE ENERGY COSTS
By reviewing your current energy usage and switching to greener alternatives, you are not only saving on the costs of overall utilities, but you are also saving on the maintenance costs that older items require. Take a look at your current lighting and your machinery. Have you already traded out your fluorescent lighting with LED retrofits? You can expect an average savings of $11 dollars per bulb per year just by trading out old T8 fluorescent with an LED. They also will pay themselves off on average in under 3 years, and last over 10 years before needing replacement when running 12 hours per day! You can save with your packaging line as well. Trade out your pneumatic packaging machinery for electric and save on both annual electricity costs and the maintenance costs of the air cylinders.
Find significant savings by outsourcing your packaging with a contract packager who can handle your project. When you outsource a project with a qualified co-packer, you won’t have to manage the packaging in-house at all, and they will handle the product from packaging to delivery. A good co-packer offers a turn-key solution for your business and will manage trained labor, space, and inventory for your product. A co-packer can take on seasonal or full-time projects for you in their own facility at a fixed-cost, eliminating the ups-and-downs of an in-house project. If contract packaging seems like it speaks to your needs, connect with a professional to discuss your project.
8. SERVICE & PARTS
And finally, one of the biggest areas to consider that is often overlooked, is your vendor list. Take a close look at who you’re using to provide you with service and parts whenever your machines need service. Whether it’s gearboxes, custom or OEM parts for your machinery, valves, rollers, pumps or something else entirely, you need to inspect your vendors and ensure they’re delivering the best quality at the best prices with the quickest turnaround possible.
If not, look elsewhere. In a recent study from Gartner, small companies to large enterprise operations were spending up to 30% MORE on their service and parts than was necessary. It doesn’t matter which category or industry your business falls into for you to realize this is a massive amount.
If you’re ready to explore other options where your partners are concerned when it comes to your service and parts suppliers, contact Progressive Machine Works.