Automatic packing line of conveyor. Pharmaceutical and chemical industry. Manufacture on factory

A Planning Guide for New Packaging Machinery

Recent trends in reshoring, accelerated by supply chain issues brought on by COVID-19, are prompting many brands to bring all or part of their packaging operations in house by installing their own machinery. Even if your brand hasn’t made a plan to purchase new packaging machinery, your company is likely considering alternatives to mitigate the disruption.  

A recent survey indicates packaging is one of the services North American brands are most likely to reshore in light of recent supply chain issues. While handling packaging in house can accelerate the product delivery timeline and reduce supply chain problems, it comes with its own set of challenges. We created this guide to help you anticipate and solve those challenges.

Collaborate Internally and with Vendors

To develop a comprehensive set of user requirement specifications, it’s important for representatives of many departments in your business, including packaging, engineering, procurement, HSE, IT and maintenance, to collaborate and thoroughly discuss their individual needs. Another key topic to discuss internally is how new equipment may impact the packaging machinery and software already in place. It’s important to find out what conditions new machinery will need to satisfy to be integrated with your current setup.

Teams also need to communicate and collaborate with the machine supplier to develop an installation timeline that suits the needs of as many departments as possible to minimize disruption to the business. This is also the time to communicate any safety training the vendor’s technicians will need to complete before arriving at your facility. While technicians likely participate in significant safety training of their own, you can’t assume their training covers all the topics necessary for working within your facility.

Evaluate Business Impact

Adding a significant amount of new machinery is no small endeavor. Installing a new packaging line or building on an existing one can have unforeseen impacts on departments throughout your facility. It’s important to understand how it can affect those departments during the early planning stages so those risks can be mitigated. When integrating new machinery into an existing packaging line or other production line, installation will likely require that equipment to be shut down, and managers who oversee that line will need to plan their department’s schedule around that shutdown.

Planning ahead thoroughly for the ways installation will impact your business will provide time to prepare and ensure the installation goes smoothly and doesn’t disrupt other departments more than absolutely necessary. This includes allowing time for testing and having a sufficient amount of product available to conduct tests on the new packaging and labeling equipment.

Anticipate Delays

Despite even the most thorough planning and preparation, installing new packaging machinery will take longer than you expect. Turnaround time between ordering your equipment and delivery by the vendor will likely be the longest part of the process. Delivery times can increase considerably if your needs require customization and added functionality to the machinery.

Plan a 30% buffer time for the total project, no matter what a vendor tells you. You need to prepare for a variety of delays and issues that may pop up throughout the process and have a plan to mitigate unforeseen issues that impact timing. It’s almost a guarantee that a few such problems will affect installation at your facility.

Analyze Utilities

Heavy equipment like packaging machinery draws a lot of power and may also require other utilities, such as compressed air. Those who know your facility best should review details about the machinery’s requirements and evaluate all supply lines, hookups and building connections to ensure they are available and located in the places the new machines will need them.

Measure Twice, Install Once

Measuring the space available for your packaging machinery is an important part of the planning process, but it’s not the last time you’ll need those measurements. The process from deciding on new machinery to its installation can span many months, and equipment vendors may make upgrades or small revisions to the machinery they sell over the course of that time. While vendors should communicate changes and updates to the machinery, you can’t assume they’ll be aware of how those changes affect installation at your facility.

Invest in Solutions

When you decide on a vendor to provide your new machinery, work with them to ensure all the functionality you need it included. Push for the vendor to work with any third-party providers for custom functions and don’t allow them to pass contracting with those providers onto your company. Your company is not just buying a machine, it is working with the vendor to provide a solution that meets your brand’s packaging needs.

Let the Experts Lead

The entire process of acquiring and installing new packaging machinery, from finding equipment that best suits the needs of your brand to testing the line to make sure it functions properly, is intricate and involves many details that are easy to overlook without experienced help. If your team doesn’t have the experience, expertise and resource availability to tackle each phase of the project, including implementation, get external help. Our team has experience helping iconic brands across a variety of industries add packaging lines to their operation, and we’re ready to be your partner through each phase of the project. Reach out to learn more about how we can help.

value optimization

Cost Savings Beyond Sourcing: Corrugated Packaging

In order to optimize packaging-related cost savings, using a holistic approach to evaluate processes, waste, sourcing, and design throughout the entire packaging system is necessary. In most cases, when companies discuss their approach to cost savings related to packaging, it addresses only one element of packaging, such as reducing packaging material.

Optimizing packaging and supply chain costs involves partnering with design and supply chain experts, as well as material suppliers to identify and develop the best quality solution. It involves leveraging experts in logistics, sourcing, packaging design, process efficiency, distribution costs, etc. to identify what’s working well and what can be improved upon.

Adept Packaging’s Value Design Model

In Adept Group’s Value Design Model to Margin Improvement, we leverage our global supplier network to evaluate and identify the best supplier for the challenge at hand, resulting in the lowest total landed cost for our clients’ packaging designs. Through a thorough understanding of the client’s supply chain, needs and limitations, we identify the optimal solution.

After understanding our clients’ needs, our cost savings experts identify areas for margin improvement and then we select the supplier that can offer the highest quality solution.

Corrugated Savings

For example, for corrugated packaging, we’ve partnered with TRG, a supplier with unique machinery, a design ethos that matches ours, and insight into the entire corrugated supply chain. On projects we’ve worked on with TRG, we average:

  • 15-20% material reduction
  • 25-30% throughput increases
  • Up to 80% labor and set up reductions
  • Time and waste reduction to increase total supply chain effectiveness

Avenues to Corrugated Cost Reduction

Depending on the material, component, product and supply chain needs, cost savings can come in the form of:

  • Lightweighting
  • Optimizing use of material
  • Design optimization and automation
  • Design and supplier equipment utilization
  • Pallet optimization and quality improvement
  • Labor and setup reductions
  • Eliminating additional components
  • Update printing methods using the latest technology

Material Reduction through Design Innovation

Through the use of specialized converting equipment, we are able to create corrugated designs that reduce the number of components in the packaging. These unique conditions allow for design innovation for both online and offline execution without sacrificing packaging quality or performance.

Labor Reduction Throughput and Set-up Efficiencies

Combining innovative design concepts with uniquely capable supplier equipment, we are able to develop quick set up designs and revolutionary case automation possibilities. These designs reduce material waste, as well as allow for staffing reallocation due to reduced time needed to set up packaging, both in the warehouse and in-store.

Time and waste reduction to increase total supply chain
effectiveness

In addition to increasing efficiency through packaging design, material reduction allows for maximum pallet efficiency through more product per pallet. The reduction of packaging components leads to less inventory management and increase warehouse space.

By starting with the packaging concept, this process allows for efficiency improvements throughout the entire supply chain, as well as innovation that not only saves cost, but differentiates products in store.

Cost Savings Beyond Sourcing Learning Share

If you’re interested in learning more about cost savings beyond sourcing, check out our December 2019 Learning Share presented by Adept Value Optimization President, Jared Spencer, and TRG Director of Design & Value Engineering, Jeff Jolley. They discuss details and case studies of how our approach has helped some of the most iconic Food, Beverage and CPG companies achieve their cost savings goals.