Why Get An Analysis Of Your Packaging Line?
If you are currently running a successful 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.
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 collect data, and have detailed reports to keep track of your performance. Your boss and boss's boss are happy with the progress you are continually making and continuously tell you to keep up the excellent work!
First of all, if this describes you, I would like to congratulate you on diligence, focus, hard work, and dedication to ensuring that your packaging 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 packaging line to you. Where does Industrial Packaging get off recommending such a thing to someone of your talent and skill?*
*OR MAYBE, you are saying, well actually, yes, we could stand to make some improvements around here and well, what exactly would you suggest?
If that is the case, then, by all means, skip the rest of this intro and dig deeper down into the meat of this post!
Let me start by saying, I get it. I understand, and I, for one, would react the same way. I mean, why would you need someone to analyze your work to find ways to improve it when you are already doing that?
The truth is that getting a different perspective from another human being, one that is highly trained exclusively on packaging machinery and materials (Industrial Packaging collectively waves at you here) can show you things that you simply may not be able to see from your vantage point.
Third-party packaging experts can help you uncover various places for improvement that can save you money (sometimes A LOT of money).
This article will show you how an analysis of your packaging line can help you run a better, faster, and less costly production.
Improvement Of Your Packaging Line
I know that we are talking about you and your packaging 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 regardless of how well you are currently running.
Why? For one thing, there are often little known secrets that packaging experts know about operating certain types of machinery. If you do not understand these, 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? Good, let us continue then...
OK, the next reason it makes total sense for you to have a packaging professional do a complete analysis of your packaging line hinges on the idea of 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 packaging line. Of course, I am talking about the materials known as shrink film and stretch film.
Cost Savings From Adjusting Your Shrink Film
Shrink Film Gauge
The gauge of your shrink film is one of the most crucial aspects to correct in regards to your packaging lines 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 a 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.
Need Help With Your Packaging Equipment?
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.
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 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 time 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 your gauge and width of your stretch film and your machinery adjustments.
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 packaging 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 essential elements of your packaging 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 I Use To Analyze My Packaging Line?
When you decide to get an analysis of your packaging 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 packaging 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 packaging line.
They will be able to identify opportunities to make changes to help you see lower costs and an improved packaging line.
Another option for getting an analysis of your packaging 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 packaging line's analysis as 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 packaging 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 The Analysis
Depending on your unique needs, one of the choices above will be your best bet to perform an analysis of your packaging line. If you are unsure where to go from here, 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 that you can glean from that process, they will be able to advise you on whom to turn to for optimizing your line based on the completed analysis. We will be able to help you choose a vendor, even if that means we are not that vendor.
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.