By: Nathan Dube on March 11th, 2021
Why Get An Analysis Of Your In-House Packaging Line?
If you are currently running a successful in-house packaging line, chances are you take some pride in this. You are running quality equipment and materials, have highly trained operators, and are diligently tracking your KPIs.
You refuse to use contract packaging services and will never be outsourcing your packaging because you know you can produce better packaging solutions yourself. You are part of a company that is proud to package its product in-house. You have a flawless product line and you prefer to package your products on your own.
You properly manage your own primary packaging, general packaging, filling machines, packaging machines, and various other types of packaging equipment and processes. You have a long-term plan to package-specific products at a level of quality your competitors cannot match.
Maybe you've even implemented a regular preventative maintenance program and rarely experience any extended periods of downtime.
You are keeping track of your monthly goals, consistently collecting data, and have detailed reports to keep track of your performance. Your boss and your boss's boss are happy with the progress you are continually making and tell you to keep up the excellent work!
First of all, if this describes you, I would like to congratulate you on your diligence, focus, hard work, and dedication to ensuring that your line runs safely, efficiently, and at a high level of production.
Next, I would like to make a suggestion. Bring in a packaging expert to analyze your packaging line to see where improvements can be made.
WHAT!? I can practically hear you yell at your computer screen. Why on earth would I suggest such a thing to you? I mean, after all, you run a tight ship! No one in your industry has a superior line to you.
This article will show you several benefits that an analysis of your in-house packaging line could have to help you run a better, faster, and less costly production.
Improvement Of Your In-House Packaging Line
I know that we are talking about you and your line. I mean, how can we possibly improve on perfection, am I right? All joking aside, it is a good idea to get an analysis of your packaging line. Regardless of how well you are currently running your supply chain, you can always make improvements.
Why? For one thing, there are often little-known secrets that packaging experts know about operating certain types of machinery. If you do not know about these secrets, you may never be aware that they can save you a significant amount of money.
For example, did you know you could save between 20%-50% on stretch wrap by upgrading a few little gears in your stretch wrapper? Would you be shocked to know you can do this for as low as $100?
Do I have your attention now? If so, let’s continue.
Waste Reduction On Your In-House Packaging Line
OK, the next reason it makes sense for you to have a packaging professional do a complete analysis of your line is waste reduction.
Simply put, if you are using the wrong size, gauge, width, or length of any material, you are wasting materials and throwing away money.
Getting an analysis will identify where on your line waste like this is happening. It will provide you with the data needed to remedy said wasteful practices.
There are various areas within your packaging line, particularly concerning materials and machinery, where subtle adjustments can result in BIG cost savings.
To illustrate this point, let's take a couple of the most common materials on your line. Of course, I am talking about the materials known as shrink film and stretch film.
Cost Savings From Adjusting Your Shrink Film Gauge
The gauge of your shrink film is one of the most crucial aspects to correct in regards to your packaging line's successful optimization. If you use the wrong gauge of shrink film, it could result in thousands of wasted dollars every month. Not to mention, you would be wasting a ton of time and material as well.
When we talk about shrink film gauge, what that means is simply the thickness of the film. If you are running a high gauge of shrink film, you are using a thicker film. This thickness can be measured in terms of gauge or mil.
Mil is a term used to define the thickness of a film and is an industry-standard when communicating about the thickness of packaging films. Gauge is a commonly used term used instead of mil by industry insiders.
So, how big is a single mil? Well, it's not big at all. One single mil equals exactly one-thousandth of one inch (.001 inch).
When we are talking about premium shrink films within the packaging industry, we generally use the word gauge instead of mil, e.g., 45 gauge, 60 gauge, 75 gauge, etc. That being said, when we are talking about polyethylene film, mil is the preferred word to describe thickness.
To get a grip on mil VS gauge conversion, you need to do a little math. Simply multiply the number of mills by one hundred. This part of calculating gauge is also known as a conversion factor. So, 1 mil x 100 = 100 gauge.
Would you like some help in calculating the correct gauge of film for the items you are packaging? Are you unsure if you are using the correct gauge of shrink film for your products? To make sure you calculate the correct gauge, you can read more about the gauge of shrink wrap film here.
Is it time to upgrade your packaging machinery?
The Complete Guide To Packaging Machinery Will Help Guide You!
Cost Savings From Adjusting Your Stretch Film
Reducing excess stretch film usage is an essential process for eliminating waste, saving money, and keeping an efficient operation. Stretch film is a valuable material, so the less you wrap while properly securing your pallets, the better off your bottom line is.
Load containment is perhaps the most critical factor in this process. Load containment refers to the different forces that hold your pallets together.
Optimized load containment ensures that your product is secure so that it can be appropriately shipped and arrive intact at your customer's location.
Properly Optimized Load Containment
So what does load containment refer to? The process includes three elements:
- The number of layers of stretch film on your load
- The force of wrapping
- The gauge or thickness of your stretch wrap
All three of these are the super-secret sauce that makes sure your pallets are safe and secure.
There are several elements to consider when it comes to the ease of your containment: length x width and height. The higher the width x height, the easier it is to contain the load.
When looking at height, it can go either way — the height of the pallet may increase or decrease load containment depending on the weight and the perimeter of the pallet being wrapped. The ease of wrapping truly depends on how the load is stacked.
There are three specific types of unitizing for your pallets. These are categorized by the kind of products that you are shipping and how they sit on your pallet.
- A-Profile Loads: This type of load profile is stacked uniformly in shapes that have no protrusions. A-profile loads are the most straightforward kind of loads to wrap. They often contain similar types of items that have roughly the same shape and are loaded together.
- B-Profile Loads: B-profile loads are not very uniform; they will often have puncture hazards that are less than three inches long. They will usually require an irregular stack pattern.
- C-Profile Loads: C-Profile loads are, hands down, the single most challenging kind of load you can wrap. They will often contain various sized puncture hazards over three inches and will commonly consist of mixed items. Generally speaking, these items will be assembled at distribution centers for retail applications.
Having a packaging professional analyze your stretch wrapping machinery and materials will allow them to provide you with feedback about your current processes.
This will often result in useful advice on how to change the gauge and width of your stretch film, as well as potential adjustments for your machinery.
Analyzing these items will often result in an opportunity to reduce waste and save time, money, and materials.
Other Benefits Of Getting An Analysis Of Your Packaging Line
There are many benefits to getting an analysis of your packaging line. Some may be glaringly obvious, while others are more obscure. Regardless, the benefits of getting an analysis of your line include:
- Reviewing your energy usage. There may be opportunities to make changes to your energy supply that will result in cost savings.
- Inspecting your utilities. Taking a look at your machinery and the utilities they require, you may be able to make upgrades that could save you thousands of dollars. One example would be upgrading from outdated pneumatic equipment to electric models.
- Looking at materials. While we mentioned shrink and stretch films, you may be running many other materials on your line. Taking the time to analyze them will help you ensure that you are using the proper gauge, width, height, and formulations to maximize cost savings.
- Observing cleanliness. Check to make sure that your air and water lines have been properly cleaned and cleared of blockages to help you save money and run a better functioning packaging line.
- Reducing wear and tear. Analyzing your machinery will often reveal opportunities to replace worn-out parts BEFORE they fail and cause unwanted downtime. There is also the possibility that upgrading a few simple parts could save you a significant amount of money.
- Profitable recycling opportunities. Taking a look at how you deal with excess and waste materials may offer you the chance to profit from recycling materials that you were likely throwing away.
- Optimizing storage. The physical location in which you store your materials plays a big part in how long they last in storage. This is especially true for warehouses that experience extreme weather. Merely moving your materials to a different space could save you big money.
This is a list of some of the essential elements of your line that can significantly benefit from being analyzed by a packaging expert. But, there are many other opportunities to dig deeper into your packaging line that can result in further optimization and cost savings.
Who Can Analyze My Packaging Line?
When you decide to get an analysis of your line, you have a few different options when it comes to choosing a rep to do the analysis.
Your Current Vendor
If you already have a vendor from which you buy your packaging machinery and materials, they would be your best bet. You already have a relationship with them and likely trust them on your packaging line.
Industrial Packaging happens to be a packaging distributor. Companies like Industrial Packaging are common choices for getting a professional analysis for your line.
Pretty much all packaging distributors remain brand agnostic. This usually results in them selling different brands of machinery, materials, and supplies. This makes packaging distributors an excellent choice for getting an analysis done on your packaging line.
Reps from packaging distributors are highly-trained professionals on multiple different brands of machinery, materials, and supplies for your line.
They will be able to identify opportunities to make changes to help you see lower costs and improved packaging line optimizations.
Another option for getting an analysis of your line is using a manufacturer (OEM). Manufacturers always have reps who are thought leaders on the equipment they produce and sell.
Generally speaking, a manufacturer will have the best reps to analyze their brand of equipment and materials. This is primarily because they exclusively work with their own brand's products.
It should be noted that if you have multiple brands of equipment on your packaging line, a manufacturer's rep may not be the best choice for your line's analysis. This is because they only work on their own brand of machinery and materials.
Packaging integrators are ultra-specialized vendors that help their clients design, build, optimize, and run super high-end packaging lines. Most of the time, they are working in tandem with multiple manufacturers and distributors to provide the absolute best for their clients.
Packaging integrators may have their reps analyze your line. They also might provide a third-party analysis through one of the OEMs or distributors that they work with.
While integrators may be able to provide a thorough analysis of your packaging line, it may be more costly. They may have to source the labor through one of their partners who may charge them for the service.
Using a packaging integrator may make sense for you if you are already using one for other elements of your business.
Performing An Analysis Of Your In-House Packaging Line
When beginning the process of getting an analysis of your packaging line, it would make sense to start by talking to your current packaging company. If you are also interested in getting a third-party analysis to compare offerings to your incumbent vendor, we would suggest contacting one of our packaging experts to assist you in setting up a proper analysis of your packaging line.
Based on the information from your in-house packaging line analysis, they will be able to advise you on areas of improvement within your line. They will also be able to help you identify the best vendor to assist in your packaging line optimization. And, even if we are not ultimately that vendor, we can still provide you with the assistance you need.
About Nathan Dube
As the Digital Marketing Specialist at Industrial Packaging, I am honored to create content for such a phenomenal company and work with one of the greatest teams in the Packaging Industry. Whether creating a video, writing blog posts or generating other pieces of content and multimedia, I am always excited to help educate and inspire our prospects and clients to reach their highest potential in regards to their packaging processes and needs.