Palletizing Solutions Optimize End of Line Petfood Operations

Robotic Automation Seamlessly Integrates Existing End of Line Equipment

Brenton’s latest bag palletizing solution for pet manufacturers replaces gantry solutions with an automated sheet placing robot. Image courtesy of Brenton Engineering.

By Brian Guzek, Regional Sales Manager at Brenton Engineering

Petfood manufacturers, like other food manufacturers, are looking to gain efficiencies in their end-of-line operations. One way to achieve that is through automation. Adding a robotic solution brings many benefits to petfood manufacturers, including the ability to process multiple SKUs, manage varying product sizes, and create multiple pack configurations – all of which results in more streamlined throughput with reduced labor costs.

Robotic automation can be seamlessly integrated with preferred or existing equipment, case erectors, case sealers, palletizers, stretch wrappers and labelers to provide a turnkey solution. In fact, advances in robotic palletizing seamlessly integrate existing end of line equipment, and provide end-of-line solutions for petfood manufacturers. Here are answers to frequently asked questions:

How does palletizing equipment optimize petfood packaging lines?

One of the main benefits a robotic palletizing solution brings to petfood packaging lines is reduced labor. In manual palletizing operations, it is common for a petfood line to have several employees stacking and building pallets. Hiring people is one thing, getting them to show up consistently is another. A well-designed system can replace three to four employees who were tasked to manually build, pack and stack cases.

For many employees, this type of repetitive, strenuous work is not very motivating, which is why retaining staff can be challenging. Robotic automation reduces the number of employees needed to complete menial tasks, while relocating them to areas where they can be more beneficial to the company.

What are the key benefits palletizing equipment provides for petfood manufacturers and distributors?

In addition to replacing employees who were previously hand-stacking pallets and relocating them to other areas where they can be more beneficial to the company, safety is another key benefit to petfood manufacturers and distributors. For employees manually stacking pallets, it is not a question of if they are going to get injured, it is when.

Repeatedly bending over or poor lifting can lead to painful back strain injuries. Palletizing technology protects employees’ health, while improving productivity and eliminating costs associated with medical care and workers compensation claims. In addition to a risk of injuries, hand stacking pallets leads to inconsistent builds due to individual strength or fatigue, which impacts productivity. Robotic automation solves these troublesome issues.

Why is flexibility important for petfood applications?

Flexibility in robotic palletizing is more important than ever before, and a main driver of that is e-commerce sales, which are showing no signs of slowing down. To best capture your fair share of the e-commerce market, you are going to ship a greater variety of SKUs and package sizes. Having flexibility in your packaging machinery, including your palletizers, will position you to build and ship pallets to the exact specifications of retailers, distributors, and consumers. Automation also brings newfound flexibility to your operations. As your business grows, production may need to increase. An automated system with robotics can easily keep pace with your growth and will not require additional staffing as would a hand-packing line.

Robotic solutions improve the safety, flexibility and efficiency of end of line packaging operations. Image courtesy of Brenton Engineering.

What are key features to consider when selecting palletizing equipment for petfood applications?

The successful packaging OEMs are the ones who listen to their customers, stay abreast of consumer preferences and manufacturing trends, and who can adapt their solutions to an ever-changing landscape. You will be most successful when partnering with a company with sound, proven solutions, and a team that supports their machinery long after the sale is completed. That is the kind of partner you want to move forward with.

What questions are important to ask suppliers when integrating equipment into an existing packaging process?

The types of questions to consider when integrating robotics into an existing end-of-line operation include:

  • What is your current process, and where are you looking to go?
  • What are your sales goals and how can a robotic palletizing system support those goals?
  • What are you moving?
  • How many SKUs are you handling?
  • What style of packaging are you handling?

Knowing the answers to these initial questions is a great start toward selecting an end-of-line system that best achieves your goals.

About the Author

Brian Guzek is a regional sales manager at Brenton Engineering. Brenton is a global leader in designing and manufacturing integrated end of line packaging systems and machines, specializing in case packing and palletizing using both robotics and other automation. Learn more about palletizing solutions at www.brentonengineering.com/solutions.

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