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July 12, 2016

Many manufacturing companies have decided to switch from manual to automated packaging machinery. While the ROI of automation is undeniable and this decision may seem quite simple, you need to be aware of the following considerations before stepping into the automation era, to make sure this transition goes smoothly and that you get the most out of it. 

- As part of installing automated equipment, consider hiring new employees experienced in the care of robotic equipment. Even if you’ve provided your current employees with training in the maintenance of automated machinery, it’ll take time for them to learn to troubleshoot equipment they haven’t encountered before.

- Don’t underestimate the knowledge required to operate robotic equipment. Yes, the equipment does a lot by itself, but employee training becomes more important than ever before when dealing with robotics. The transition from manual to robotic packaging equipment may be more complex than you anticipate, so be sure to plan for the time and patience needed to accommodate your employees’ learning curve. 

- With manual packaging, employees are accustomed to operating equipment and being a big part of the production line. Prepare them for the fact that once the line is automated, they’ll be there to ensure that equipment operates properly instead of doing the actual work themselves. Some employees may see this as a challenge and an opportunity to gain experience in a constantly evolving field.

- Automating your packaging line will optimize your production line but may expose you to challenging situations and require long training sessions. Be proactive and ask for external help. Your equipment supplier has a lot of information and tips that can help you successfully navigate this transition. Search for the best supplier and partner that will help you optimize your newly automated line.

- Training, training, training: Learning new technology takes a bit of time and effort, but will give you and your workforce many benefits. Develop a training plan that accommodates your employees’ learning curve. This plan will give you an idea of the length of time needed for training before your line reaches maximal efficiency.

- You’re entering the automation era, but for only one piece of equipment? That can be done, but consider the other steps in your line. If your team is not able to maintain the production rhythm because automated equipment is too fast for them, all your efforts to optimize the line will be lost. 

- When packaging operates manually, differences between products being packaged can be handled much more easily than on an automated line. In order to optimize automated packaging, you’ll need to standardize as many elements of the line as possible. This includes plant humidity as well as product density and granularity, for example 

- What’s your current production capacity? What’s your target capacity? If you want to reach higher production rates with your equipment, think about your goals before automating your packaging. Knowing what you want to achieve is important and will guide the decisions you make to automate your processes.

Author : Éric Bouchard - Product Coordinator

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