4 packaging automation pitfalls that are costing you money

Danielle Ohl

man holding money bills.jpgNo one likes to lose money.

When considering or implementing packaging automation, improper planning and hasty decision-making can lead to mistakes that will negatively affect your profitability.

Read on for 4 packaging automation pitfalls that are costing you money (and how to fix them):

The key to avoiding excess costs? Proper planning. Download our free packaging equipment project planner to get started on the right foot. >>

1. Buying on price alone

“How much?” is often one of the first questions we get from potential clients. A very important question, no doubt, but the answer should not be the only factor influencing your packaging machine purchasing decision.

Other considerations are just as (if not more) important:

  • Manufacturer reputation. Sure, Unknown Packaging Machine Company may offer a great price, but can they back it up with a long-term commitment to your success? Ask for references, do a little research into the company, find out where the machinery is manufactured, and inquire about after-sales support specifics.
  • Parts and maintenance costs. A low initial price tag is not worth it if maintenance and parts costs consistently drain you over the years. Ask if parts are proprietary; if they are, chances are they will end up costing you more. Inquire about how much in parts are kept in stock at the OEM facility and how quickly they can be shipped in an emergency. Lastly, ask for estimated yearly maintenance and parts expenses for the machinery you are considering. If the equipment is high-quality, these costs should be minimal.
  • Lead time. An inexpensive machine is no good if you can't get it by the time you need it. Lost production, canceled contracts, and unhappy customers can cost many times the machine price if the equipment is not delivered in a reasonable amount of time. If you need equipment fast, ask if the OEM has in-stock machines available on a short lead time.

2. Not automating when you should

Let’s just get it out of the way: Humans kind of suck at repetitive tasks that require a high level of accuracy. Packaging is one of those tasks that, in many cases, is better left to a machine.

We recognize that providing jobs for people is an essential part of the economy, but it's more cost-effective for humans to perform jobs that provide a higher value, like R & D and product innovation. Leave the repetitive, standardized labor to the packaging machines.

If you’re a bit hesitant to take the plunge into packaging automation because of the initial investment required for equipment, do some ROI calculations that consider labor savings. You may be surprised at how much your labor costs could decrease with a very simple packaging system. In fact, one of our clients decreased their per-bag labor costs by 90%! The numbers don’t lie.

Packaging Strategies agrees: “Though a capital investment in automated packaging machinery may seem expensive up-front, a longer-term outlook will show the benefits; often in a much shorter time frame than you may expect.”

3. Failing to properly define your project scope

The very best way for packaging machine costs to balloon is if the project scope is improperly or incompletely defined.

So you want to automate your packaging! Awesome, we can’t wait to get started.

But first, packaging machine manufacturers need to know the specifics of your project. And we mean specifics. It may seem like you are asked a thousand very detailed questions when you are shopping for machinery, but that’s done for good reason.

The very best way for packaging machine costs to balloon is if the project scope is improperly or incompletely defined. Providing accurate specifications to an OEM is paramount. What kind of specifications, you ask? Here are 25 examples of discovery questions to prepare yourself for. The more you can answer off the bat, the smoother your project will go.

4. Failing to perform preventive maintenance

So you’ve got the packaging machinery installed and in production. You're scaling your production like never before and everything is running smoothly. This is the perfect time to start planning machine preventive maintenance.

Like a car, if a packaging machine is not properly maintained and cared for, it can malfunction at the least opportune time. If your machine goes down unexpectedly during working hours, the loss of production is quite literally money down the drain. So how can you prevent this? Regular preventive maintenance.

Maintenance tasks should start immediately after installation. There are activities that should be completed daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly to help ensure maximum packaging machine performance and longevity. The biggest (and easiest) one? Cleaning your machine. Yes, we know, we sound like mom, but keeping a clean and tidy machine is very important.

Next, devise a comprehensive preventive maintenance plan. Top packaging machine manufacturers will provide you with cleaning and maintenance worksheets that detail specific tasks and recommended intervals to perform them. Hey wait...we just happen to have those ready for free download right here: 

The bottom line

With proper planning and a little bit of research, you can avoid common packaging automation pitfalls. Remember to consider more than just initial price, recognize when it's time to automate your packaging, define your project scope early on, and take care of your packaging machine after its installed.

Get started on the path to packaging automation success: Nail down every last detail to ensure a smooth packaging machine purchase. Download our free project scope planner:

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