5 ways contract packagers can transform their operations with packaging equipment
As a contract packager, your reputation is everything. Building a solid client base is key to increasing your market share and your profits. To keep your customers coming back time and time again, your contract packaging services need to be consistent and top quality. To achieve this, you need a solid backbone comprised of reliable packaging machinery that never lets you down. Here are 5 ways to transform your operations with packaging equipment:
1. Increase your equipment uptime
You sell on volume. When your packaging system is down, that is quite literally money down the drain. Choosing solid, durable equipment that “just keeps running” with minimal babysitting is the way to go. How to spot durable packaging equipment? Here are some signs:
- Fully stainless steel build
- Quiet operation
- Low vibration, even at high speeds
- Modular, simple design
Even top-quality packaging equipment can experience technical and mechanical issues. No matter how few and far between, if one of your machines does go down, you want to know that the packaging equipment manufacturer will be available and responsive to your concerns. Before investing in equipment, ask the OEM about their after-sales service and support. Find out what the average costs and the anticipated schedule are for maintenance. Luckily, with modern servo-driven equipment, most issues can be fixed remotely. In the same vein, if you need to replace a machine part, the last thing you want to do it wait for it. Choose a packaging machine manufacturer that uses standard, non-proprietary parts.
2. Stay flexible
Before investing in packaging equipment, take stock of not only your current packaging needs but your anticipated needs in the future. Yes, it is possible to retrofit equipment, but it is almost always easier and less costly to design the machine upfront for differing needs. Luckily, if you choose a flexible packaging machine built for versatility, you can build in options from the get-go for different bag styles and sizes. Make sure the equipment features easy, tool-free changeover and modular design to make changing the line over to different products a quick, easy job for your operators.
Use caution, however, when considering a one-size-fits-all packaging solution. Often a particular model can indeed handle differing bag formats, but there are limitations to flexibility. It may be a better option to purchase multiple systems if your bag type, size, and packaging speed requirements are diverse. Your packaging equipment manufacturer can guide you as to the best long-term solution for your particular market.
3. Decrease your costs by increasing throughput
You must fulfill the terms of the contract with your client, no matter what. Your customer is not concerned with what it takes, they just want the job done, done well, and on time. This means if contract-related costs go up, you must absorb them, which increases your cost-per-package and eats into your bottom line.
A great way to minimize and control related costs is to increase throughput so you are producing more product in less time. And it’s not enough to just run at high speeds, the equipment must be durable enough to consistently run lightning-fast without breaking down, and at the same time produce a good-looking package with high-integrity seals. Investing in rugged high-speed packaging equipment ensures more uptime, higher production, and minimizes loss due to quality issues, thereby minimizing your cost-per-package.
And don't forget about your fixed and recurring costs, not to mention the capital equipment cost and recurring expenses of acquiring packaging machinery itself. If you can increase your throughput while minimizing operating costs, those fixed costs and capital investments can be recaptured in much less time. Seeing a positive return on investment is key when investing in packaging automation.
4. Differentiate yourself from the competition
When a CPG company is shopping for a contract packager, they have many choices. All things the same, they rely on word-of-mouth and past experiences to make their choice. As previously mentioned, the key to maintaining your competitive advantage and attracting new business is consistency in quality and results. And the key to that is durable, reliable packaging equipment.
Your client usually isn’t interested in your equipment specifications; they only want to see the end result. So choose packaging equipment that can deliver those results, all day, every day, without fail. Hint - this usually isn't the cheapest option. Similar to cars, you get what you pay for. Often, a piece of equipment that costs less upfront will absolutely kill you in maintenance and after-sale costs, not to mention the expenses arising from lost production time when the machine is down.
5. Simplify your packaging processes
Yes, custom equipment has a place in the market, especially for intricate, one-of-a-kind projects. But adding extra complexity when it’s not necessary not only adds to initial acquisition costs via engineering and R&D but increases after-sale expenses via custom parts and more complex maintenance. Any packaging machine manufacturer worth their salt can do both complex and standard equipment equally well and will point you in the right direction based on your specific needs. But on the whole, keep it simple when you can. Standard machinery is not only less costly and easier to maintain, but will often have a strikingly shorter lead time.
Resources for contract packagers
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