The Benefits of a Modular Design for New Packaging Equipment

27 May 2021 //

Equipment PurchasingPackaging System UpgradeProject Planning

The term “modular” seems to be all the rage when it comes to equipment manufacturing. The idea is that equipment components have a Lego-type configuration, in which machines can be arranged to fit the application. Implementing a system like this can be more complicated from an engineering perspective, but the benefits can be worth the up-front effort. Here are some of the benefits of a modular design when implementing new packaging equipment.

1. Plant Layout

You can’t argue with the old adage “time is money,” but “space is money” is even more important in modern manufacturing plants. As plants consolidate to decrease costs and increase efficiency, maximizing space is an important step. A modular design in packaging equipment can make the most of the available space.

Packaging equipment, especially end-of-line packaging equipment, is at the end of the manufacturing process. Any space left after production takes what it needs is all that’s available. Plant operations managers often implement changes such as eliminating unnecessary items and waste from the manufacturing floor to conserve space and create enough room for packaging equipment. Yet, it could be inefficient to try accommodating sprawling packaging equipment with little regard for its suitability for your space.

Maximizing the last step of the production line is essential for reclaiming valuable floor space. The modular packaging equipment design can accommodate tight or unusual spaces by allowing for the arrangement of modules to offer the most benefit to the plant. The key is determining your packaging needs and finding equipment solutions that can fulfill your requirements while fitting easily into the available space.

For example, what once would have been an in-line wrapping machine could just as easily be an L-shaped layout to fit the unique plant requirements. Depending on the type of wrapping needed for your product, you may also consider using an intermittent wrapper machine with a flexible footprint and configuration, like the Side Feed Automatic.

2. Hybrid Technologies

Another benefit of modular design is that merging operations can be easier to integrate. What was once two discrete equipment operations can now be integrated as one. Modular packaging solutions can combine everything in your system, from conveyors to palletizers and more. Including modular equipment components in your operations can accommodate additional functions as you streamline processes. For example, adding accumulation to a packaging line downstream of an extruder is relatively simple. You could also integrate a palletizer under the same controls umbrella as other packaging operations.

Ancillary Equipment

One essential component of systems integration is ancillary packaging technologies. Ancillary equipment includes all accessory machines that help the primary mechanisms work at peak efficiency. Ancillary equipment could include labelers, printers, glue-dispensing units and tray-making units, to name a few. The type of ancillary equipment a plant uses depends on its primary machines and the nature of its projects.

Utilizing ancillary machines to merge your equipment operations can help your plant automate several processes. With the right ancillary equipment, a manufacturer can streamline its palletizing and case loading processes by running two lines into one through conveyors, adding labelers or scanners into the production line, or including tray-loading and shrink-wrapping machines. The methods you use to hybridize your technology will vary based on the scope of your project.

When identifying the right equipment solutions for your application, take time to research equipment functionality and determine what your distribution environment can handle. Because equipment integration is personalized to each manufacturer’s needs, implementing new solutions requires forethought. Usually, the modularity of equipment design can accommodate unique requirements.

3. Tailored Standardization

One of the less obvious benefits to the end user of a modular design is tailored standardization. Standardization of work processes is one of the pillars of the 5s system, a method for creating an optimized manufacturing workspace outlined by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In the context of the EPA’s recommendations, standardization refers to organizing effective work procedures and best practices. Standardization of modular technology is another way manufacturers can improve work tasks and increase efficiency.

When I’m in the field talking to manufacturers about tailored solutions, they first think I’m talking about a custom machine. I’m careful to point out the distinction — that tailored and custom, while similar, are in fact different.

In custom equipment, the majority of the machine is a ground-up development. The end user will work with their equipment manufacturer’s design team to create a new solution uniquely formed to their equipment needs. While this process can be advantageous to manufacturers with uncommon requirements, it can also be months before the completion of the product. In contrast, tailored standardization offers the benefits of economies of scale while offering a right-sized solution.

Tailored standardization is similar to building a hot rod in your garage — the tires on the car will be off-the-shelf, while most other aspects of the ride are unique. Tailored standardization applies broad standards to a specific project, making solutions applicable in a manufacturer’s particular situation. Using this kind of packaging equipment module can ensure the right fit for the application and benefit the customer by being efficiently manufactured at a competitive price.

Contact EDL Packaging for Modular Packaging Solutions

Specifying the perfect packaging system for your next capital project can be a daunting task. Every manufacturing plant has unique requirements compounded by the uniqueness and variety of products the system has to handle.

The best solution to this challenge is to search out a modular design for your next equipment need. Partnering with an equipment manufacturer that can offer tailored solutions using modularity is sure to provide you with a winning solution.

EDL Packaging offers equipment solutions to handle multiple product sizes and packaging requirements. Whether you need adjustment capabilities to manipulate the position of your products or want to optimize space and efficiency at your plant, EDL Packaging has you covered. We integrate our standard modules with tailored solutions to deliver the integrated production control systems our customers need. Contact us today, and we will be happy to answer your questions.