The Obvious and Not so Obvious Advantages of Case Packing Systems
While case packing systems do involve some initial investment and may require some things about a packaging operation to be revised, there are many advantages to adopting semi or fully automatic case packing systems in your facility. There will be some training involved for a few workers to learn set up procedures particularly if the semi-automated flexible conveyor system is used to facilitate packaging a variety of products in a variety of container sizes.
The Obvious Advantages: Saving Time and Lowering Labor Costs
Traditional packaging is a slow and cumbersome process. In the least automated form several different workers typically set up cartons, push them along to the next worker who is busy gathering products and placing them in the cartons. Finally someone else tapes or seals up the carton. If there is not an automated off loader, someone else picks up the filled, sealed cartons and places them in a holding area. The material handling process continues as the products are loaded on trucks for shipping.
In an automated packing system there is typically just one human operator per line, so the labor costs involved in packaging drop substantially. Machines are depreciated over their useful life and eventually replaced. In an automated packing system with one human operator on the line, the human worker is likely to be the speed limiting factor, yet with fewer duties to perform and the actual loading and sealing or taping of the cartons being done by machine, problems with the packed products are far less likely.
With human workers in unskilled material handling jobs, absenteeism is a frequent problem and in the current economy where temporary workers are often the rule lack of commitment to an employer is another problem. Yet, OSHA requirements usually insist that people who are in positions where injury is likely have some degree of safety and ergonomic training to avoid injuries on the job.
The Less Obvious Advantages of Automated Packing Systems
Material handling jobs are fraught with safety hazards. Each time a worker handles a box or does a repetitive motion such as loading boxes or cans into a shipping carton, there is another chance for an injury to occur.
When workers move cartons full of products around a facility, serious injuries are possible due to load shift. Packing products by hand is likely to result in less uniformly packed loads than those that are machine packed. Sealing or taping boxes shut is another place where humans may not have the same precision a machine would have. Off-loading the packed, sealed boxes by hand is another place where injury can occur.
Fully Automated Case Packing Nearly Eliminates Human Involvement
Where items being packed are suited to the case packing method where a sheet of cardboard actually wraps around the product and forms a sealed carton, no human involvement is needed in the packing process, thereby eliminating all chance for injury due to material handling.
Automated loading is also possible for the packing systems that pick up a flattened carton, erect it, and tape or seal the carton hydraulically off-loading it from the conveyor when the packaging operation is complete.