Ecommerce, food and beverage, consumer products, and more industries can benefit from automating their packaging lines. Packaging automation can help your company meet increasing demand with robotics, vision, conveyance, and more advanced technology.
Packaging and transporting consumer goods, food, and other manufactured products are crucial for meeting customer expectations. Packaging automation involves using robotics, vision, and other advanced technology to complete packaging tasks with less or no manual help. Companies can automate nearly every product packaging stage, including final visual inspection, primary unit packaging, secondary packaging, tertiary packaging, and palletizing. And robotics, conveyance, and vision can now complete hygienic handling, depalletizing, infeeding, mixed case sorting, bottle handling, bin picking, and tray loading.
As consumers demand faster shipping and packaging processes become more complex, automation allows for higher-volume and flexible packaging lines. Automation across production and packaging lines can reduce labor costs, cut waste, increase productivity, and improve safety. What was once only possible through careful manual labor can now be done faster and more delicately with robotics and vision across nearly every product packaging stage, including final visual inspection, primary unit packaging, secondary packaging, tertiary packaging, and palletizing.
Benefits of Food Packaging Automation
Sanitation is critical in the food and beverage industry. Packaging raw, cooked, or frozen foods or beverages at high volumes increases the risk of contamination; and traceability is essential. Automating food handling, primary packaging, bottling, and tray loading can save time and improve food safety. And vision-guided robotics can improve lot tracing and tracking.
As e-commerce continues to flourish, increasing demand for different pack counts of consumer packaged goods (CPG), seasonal peaks and valleys, and elaborate packaging present new challenges. Companies should incorporate a holistic automaton strategy before implementing any investment. While automation can solve the speed and efficiency challenges of relying on manual labor, companies should have clear goals including flexibility requirements, and facility floor space requirements before deciding which parts or which lines to automate.
Once you decide what you want to automate, know there is a learning curve. Robotic packaging lines can be flexible, but planners and controllers must be ready to reprogram the lines. Companies need to train workers to fill more complex and oversight roles. It is best to have an experienced automation integrator work with you as you develop your automation strategy and include the appropriate ease of use for your workforce.
There are several processes within product packaging that you can optimize with automation. The first step many companies take is optimizing and streamlining feeding the product to the packaging line. Automating this step is a great opportunity, especially for food packaging, because it removes the employee contact with raw, cooked, or frozen foods. Hygienic conveyance, picking, and rotating of the product are critical. Machines that can handle feeding products into the next stage include linear feeders, hoppers, and vibratory bowls. After feeding the bulk product, the next step is to separate the product into units and package each unit in a bottle, box, or other container.
Automating product handling can improve efficiency and reduce labor costs. With advances in vision-guided robotics, packing lines swiftly and deftly pick up products and place them in different orientations, at a packing station, in a bin, or on a pallet. Planners can program the robots to adjust to many sizes or shapes.
- General material handling
- Infeeding product
- Mixed case packaging
- Food handling
Secondary packaging is another opportunity for automation because packing products for transit manually requires more space and care to reduce product damage. Secondary packaging presents the brand to retailers or end consumers, making appearance and quality crucial. This process can be configured and customized for the best results.
COMMON FORMS OF CASE PACKING
- Vertical or top loading
- Horizontal or sideloading
- Wraparound case packing
- Bottom loading
Automating packaging of bulk cases for domestic or international travel means companies can package and ship large volumes faster. Pallets and totes can be large and heavy, so keeping employees safely away from this area is a significant benefit. Automated palletizing machines or robotic palletizing systems can be more reliable and flexible than manual methods because you can easily reprogram them to product changeovers.
JR Automation has assisted manufacturers, food and beverage companies, large distribution centers, and many other companies with all aspects of packaging and material handling automation. Our customers have streamlined their case packing and tray loading processes to save labor costs, improve efficiency, and improve product quality. We consult on defining your problem statement and identifying where automation can be installed to solve those pain points, and have a state-of-the-art research and development lab to test your solution.