Preparing to automate your packaging line can be a challenge especially if you have multiple product/pack combinations. In our technical updates series, we have highlighted some areas for consideration in getting automation ready. We have summarised the main points below:

1. Map out the current value streams and identify the highest value product/pack formats
2. Discuss with your sales and marketing team the possible future products and products that the business might want to prioritise.
3. Analyse the product range to identify opportunities for pack and product rationalisation (if you are making multiple formats)
4. Identify the current key performance indicators and future performance indicators
5. Identify opportunities for phased automation to spread out the capital cost and reduce risk.
6. Risk assess the interface between production and packaging for example if your product is backed/chilled/frozen this process possibly cannot be stopped in the event of packaging machine failure or downtime so consider how the work in progress that will continue to flow from the production line will be handled.
7. Risk assess the product in relation to packaging automation for example does it have special properties i.e sticky, hot, unstable etc. These factors will need to be incorporated in the specification which is agreed with the automation supplier.
8. Identify the potential impact of a reduction of manual touch-labour on product inspection & elimination of defects and decide what quality control measures need to be in place to replace this
9. Identify the project dependencies and recommendations for timing and sequence of automation implementation – remember, big machines take many weeks to design and build to plan well in advance
10. Complete a user requirement specification which details the deliverables for your automation project and the design constraints. In the next technical update we will be discussing what makes a good User Requirement Specification. In the meantime, you can download a free template (no sign up required) from our website here