21 April 2021 //
Improving the efficiency of your packaging line can save you precious time and money in the long run. To do so, you need to begin by analyzing your line’s current performance metrics and identifying problem areas.
Below, you’ll find a list of eight steps to help you create the best overall packaging line efficiency formula.
Step 1. Find Your Maximum Production Rate
Start by verifying and noting each machine’s production operational rate. Each one should be slightly faster than the unit before it. You can then calculate the maximum production rate by multiplying the speed of your slowest machine by its operational time. The number you get can help you identify where you need to make improvements.
Step 2. Determine the Origins of Line Stops
It’s important to pinpoint the root causes behind line stops. When analyzing your machines, take note of anything that can affect output. The following variables are all points that are helpful to examine:
- Active operating time
- Environmental variables like electricity
- Power tools
- Containers like buckets or vats
- Finished products
- Supplies used for packing
- Buildup of debris
Consistency is key to increasing overall efficiency, so you shouldn’t procrastinate. Identify the necessary conditions for peak productivity and define how you can maintain them. If you find any problems, ensure that whatever solutions you implement are permanent.
Step 3. Establish Centerline Operating Parameters
It’s vital to establish and maintain operational centerlines for efficient production. Find your centerline by following these four steps:
- Find the variables: What settings can you change to affect how a machine works? Take note of anything that can be adjusted.
- Experiment using these variables: Change the settings one at a time to pinpoint your optimal ranges. This process can be time-consuming, so keep that in mind when collecting the data.
- Evaluate your finished products: How did changing the settings affect the end result? If you notice any issues, repeat the previous step to see how you can fix them.
- Establish your centerline: Once you’ve found the ideal settings for your machines, make them the standard operating procedure. Alert your staff to the change and ensure they use the settings going forward.
Post your centerline parameters on the line so employees can refer to them at any time. Additionally, document your findings and solutions so troubleshooting will be easier in the future.
Step 4: Invest in Your Employees
Creating a supportive workplace culture is a great way to increase efficiency. Ensure your training program and refresher training is thorough in covering the skills necessary for the job. Check that you provide employees with visual aids and manuals for easy reference while on the job.
Consider going beyond training by offering a Continued Professional Development (CPD) program. Helping your staff learn how to fully harness their skills is a great way to boost motivation, which can in turn result in increased efficiency. Those who feel motivated and passionate about what they’re doing put more effort into it. That means a more energetic, productive workplace.
Step 5: Adopt Automation
Machinery should always supplement the work your employees do. Implementing automated programs into your line can increase efficiency and consistency in work quality by taking over small, time-consuming tasks. That way, you can free your human staff up to work on tasks that require more skill and energy.
Additionally, look for tasks that would be safer for a machine to perform. As a result, you can reduce the risk of physical injury and bost efficiency by giving your automation the dangerous work.
Step 6: Reduce Downtime
Understanding your “takt” time — the ideal production rate to meet demand — can help you evaluate whether you’re on track. Additionally, it can help you pin down where things are going wrong. Find your takt time by dividing the time you have available for production by the number of units you need to produce.
Are you meeting your takt time? If you’re behind, you should strategize how to address breaks in productivity. If a certain piece of equipment is problematic, replace it. If your staff is confused about certain processes, consider holding refresher training more frequently or placing visual guides nearby. Even little changes can make a big difference in the way things get done.
Step 7: Synchronize Your Operation
Another way to improve packing efficiency is to fine-tune your operation schedule. By coordinating shifts and production steps, you can slash downtime and reduce the chances of repeat work.
Step 8: Get Organized
Employees spend valuable time searching for tools in disorganized workspaces. Be sure to integrate a new organization system or update your current strategy so that everyone has easy access to the materials they need to do their job. Additionally, make sure workers return those tools to their designated homes at the end of each shift. With less time spent looking for materials, they’ll have more time to focus on their work, which means higher production rates.
Contact EDL Packaging for Efficient Packaging Solutions
At EDL, we specialize in high-quality packaging equipment for an effective end-of-line experience. Fill out our online form today to request more information or schedule a consultation. EDL can help you maximize the productivity of your line so you can focus on other tasks.