18 December 2015 //
by Jim Campbell
Consumer packaged goods (CPG) producers manufacture and operate in a dynamic and competitive marketplace, so finding the most efficient production processes is required to maintain a competitive edge. In the personal care industry, that means replacing the two machines traditionally used to shrink bundle and case pack products with one machine: an Integrated Shrink Bundler and Robotic Case Packer Combo.
There are five significant advantages to using an Integrated Shrink Bundler and Robotic Case Packer Combo:
1. Minimal Footprint
It’s no secret that floor space is at a premium in any plant. Reducing the packaging equipment footprint allows you to do more with less square footage, much like having an icemaker in your freezer versus a stand-alone icemaker cluttering up your kitchen. An Integrated Shrink Bundler and Robotic Case Packer Combo can be engineered to improve and maximize your plant layout.
It’s not uncommon for personal care manufacturers to have a wide variety of products that need to get out the door at fast rates. Having two integrated pieces of equipment maintains production speeds because it ensures each process – in this case, shrink bundling and case packing – is right-sized relative to the other and to the application in general. Further, there’s efficiency in having one manufacturer build both pieces of machinery, as bottlenecks are reduced and the production rate remains consistent.
Additional benefits of bundling products that would otherwise be only case-packed are the speed at which they can be shelved, and reduced costs. For example, having two, three, four, or six sticks of deodorant in a shrink-bundled sleeve allows a store clerk to easily pick and carry that sleeve to the shelf. This may seem insignificant, but over the course of a shift, retail personnel carrying more products more efficiently improves worker productivity and reduces fatigue. A more efficient workforce improves the bottom line for retailers and consumers by reducing the overall cost of the product throughout the distribution cycle.
Another common practice in the personal care industry is bundling those same deodorant sticks in a chipboard inner. The chipboard inner satisfies the ease of shelving, but it’s more expensive compared to bundling film used in the integrated machines.
While combining two systems into one machine may seem inhibiting, in reality system versatility remains at parity with conventional, separate machinery. Having the ability to bypass an integrated machine’s bundler or case packer when not in use also creates opportunities to customize packaging for unique products, or to satisfy unique customer requests. Even when half of the Integrated Shrink Bundler and Robotic Case Packer Combo isn’t in use, the CPG producer has options to run the machinery in conjunction with one another or independently, which substantially increases packaging versatility.
Shrink bundling products is an efficient means of turning multiple units into a single pack that is easily palletized. When a bundled product can support itself, and distribution requirements allow, packs can be palletized immediately. When a bundled product cannot support itself, or does not lend itself to stacking, a shipper or corrugate case is required for proper palletizing.
An Integrated Shrink Bundler and Robotic Case Packer Combo allows for efficient packaging in a single space. One way this is achieved is by maintaining constant control of the product through the packaging process. No transfer between two different machines results in it never ‘losing sight’ of the pack, and a reduction in the amount of product required to accumulate and account for a buffer within the packaging process. For example, case packing occurs immediately after exiting the shrink tunnel, and positive control of the package is maintained. This results in a cleaner, more efficient process for the manufacturer.
Two systems combined in one is also a smart investment of capital dollars and improves the manufacturing process. Integration prevents doubling up on expensive componentry like HMIs, electrical cabinets, extra conveyors, and additional guarding. These savings can then be passed to the retailer and, in turn, to the consumer.
Just-in-time inventory systems and hyper-efficient retail environments require a well-oiled distribution center. An Integrated Shrink Bundler and Robotic Case Packer Combo can improve distribution center efficiency.
A common practice for retail distribution centers is to receive a full pallet, or truckload, of product that is then broken into customized pallets, or totes, to meet the demand for each brick-and-mortar retail shop. Having products bundled within a palletized case accommodates the distribution center’s need to send multiple product packs to a single retail location without including loose product or, conversely, providing a full case of product when only a few items are necessary. If using an integrated bundling and packing machine, the bundle is strong enough for the distribution center employee to remove it from the case and ship to the retailer where the LDPE is easily removed prior to being stocked.
Integration of separate pieces of machinery, when done correctly, can be the step-change that personal care manufacturers need. Combining shrink bundling and case packing offers a number of benefits throughout the distribution chain. The OEM, CPG manufacturer, retailer and consumer all come out ahead when a well-laid packaging line improves the efficiency of the process.
Are you considering a plant expansion or equipment upgrade? Contact us about the possibility of integrating equipment during your next capital project.