Thinking Outside the Box: Immediate Benefits of Robotic Solutions for End-of-Line Packaging
Legacy Packaging Equipment and New Packaging Robots Deliver Extreme Benefits for Businesses and Consumers
By Mandy Dwight, Vice President of Business Development at RIOS Intelligent Machines
End-of-line packaging automation has been around for decades. Machines that automate the providing of polybags or boxes to human operators for rapid pick and pack have proven to be tried and true workhorses to keep businesses packaging and providing products to customers consistently. But in the current climate, what keeps these machines running with the daunting challenges of scarce labor and escalated costs?
Businesses of all sizes are now looking at end-of-line packaging robotics to complete ergonomically challenging and tedious tasks in the wake of limited human resources. But, interestingly, robotics at the end-of-line pack station can bring greater value than just supplementing labor. The newest robotics solutions in packaging are much more than just a quick fix for lack of labor and they are easier to implement now than ever before.
Consistency, Consistency, and More Consistency
Every stakeholder within the organization cares about consistency, and end-of-line robotic automation is the easy solution. Businesses need consistency in the amount of product packed and shipped out the door. Consumers demand well-packaged, damage-free products that arrive on time.
Businesses are laser focused on consistency in throughput, hour after hour, day after day. Consumers drive demand and businesses of all sizes obsess about meeting demand when human labor does not always run at the same rate for a variety of uncontrolled reasons. The quickest of pick rates are largely unsustainable as, after all, humans were not created to do the same task thousands of times an hour over the course of an eight to ten hour shift usually under ergonomically challenging conditions.
Robots, in contrast, are created specifically for repetitive tasks. Robotic solutions can work three shifts a day for seven days a week with absolute certainty that product is going out the door. How better to forecast and ensure that product is guaranteed to be available to be shipped to consumers? Implementing robotic picking and packaging solutions allows the forecasting of business growth year-over-year with the same or less labor than ever before.
Customers care about consistency in the quality of the products they receive. Packaging errors lead to the loss of customers. With the help of robotic automation, businesses can now ensure that customers get the same product, packed appropriately and securely without defect or damage. Packaging robots are a great solution as they pick-and-pack the same way every time without change. Newer robotic solutions for packaging include a quality check that can look for damage, missing product, or any other inconsistency that may cause a consumer to have an unpleasant unboxing experience. These solutions are, in most instances, more discerning than the human eye.
And what about product damage during packout? Every stakeholder cares about this factor. Despite high packaging throughput, the newest robotic automation at the end of line pack station can have specialized end of arm tooling resulting in a touch as delicate and dexterous as a human hand but with far less error and damage. Prevention of damage saves costs but, most importantly, keeps the customer happy.
How to think outside the box about robotics in your facility
The overall benefits that robotic packaging can offer may lead to the consideration of implementing this type of automation for best results in your facility and improved consumer retention. Robots-as-a-Service, or RaaS, workcells can be an immediate remedy.
Traditionally, automation for packaging has been quite expensive and only available to those with large capital expenditure budgets, leaving many businesses in the dark. Luckily, a shift is taking place in automation and there are many new robots for packaging that are Robots-as-a-Service, or RaaS. This automation procurement model offers a stark contrast to the traditional CapEx model of purchase.
Robots-as-a-service workcells for packaging requires no upfront costs and businesses are only charged when the robots are in use, making a direct correlation to operating and labor costs. These robotic workcells are appropriate for businesses of all sizes, including small and medium sized businesses who have been traditionally priced out of robotic automation. Since these robots-as-a-service workcells are easy to use and supported as a provided solution from the manufacturer, they are appropriate for all levels of users from seasoned automation veterans to those who are just starting out.
Additionally, these Robots-as-a-Service packaging workcells are quick deploying, have a small footprint, and can integrate easily with existing packaging equipment such as case erectors or automated polybaggers making these robotic workcells more than ideal for brownfield facilities.
Robotic packaging to eliminate barriers and risk
If you’ve ever told your sales team that production cannot keep up with goods sold or ever worried about rising operating costs or the challenge of growing your business with less resources than ever before, it’s time to take immediate steps to add robots for end-of-line packaging processes in your facility. With the low cost of entry, ease of use, and guarantee of quality in handling and packaging, there are only benefits. The most severe risk is not automating.
About the Author
Mandy Dwight is the VP of Business Development of RIOS Intelligent Machines. As a veteran in the robotics industry, she focuses on bringing innovative robotics solutions to industries that have been traditionally underserved by advances in automation.