Whether you operate in the food, automotive or pharmaceutical industry, it is essential that you partner with a first-class packaging supplier. Not only will this achieve a precise result for large scale orders, but also ensure that the job is completed on schedule and on budget.
With so many variables, it can be difficult to make that final judgement and select the correct supplier. To save you time, we have compiled a quick how to guide of tips and techniques. Keep reading for a breakdown of 7 key factors.
- Partner with Experienced & Reputable Suppliers
If you are shipping off large quantities for packaging, you need to know that they will be managed by safe hands. A failure to deliver the desired results will lead to more than a headache for both sides, creating cost blowouts or subpar products. This is where a company’s track record comes into the equation. Within Australia, there are an array of packaging firms with a history of handling large scale projects.
Manufacturers/suppliers should be able to provide a list of their commercial partners (typically found on their website. Others will also hold experience with exporting products on an international level.
- Consider Your Specific Requirements
Unless you are mass producing the same product unaltered, every packaging project is likely to be different. Before the process begins, remember to confirm the specifics of your project. Remember to assess the supplier on the following factors
- Run speed (can they deliver the required packages per minute?)
- Environment (is their plant refrigerated, ambient or a clean room)
- Sanitation (do they operate to the necessary IP rating and sanitary regulations)
- Special product requirements (do they have the capacity to manage the trays, inserts and films for your product)
- Operating costs (assess estimated TCO – total cost of ownership)
- HMIs (what languages are required?)
- Automation (do they operate on standardised controls and automated packaging systems)
A supplier may be excellent option for a specific industry, yet ultimately produce subpar results when operating outside of their usual confines. Another flexibility issue arises from the age of the equipment being used. Older automation lines can fail to properly package newer products or take longer in doing so.
In this case, it is recommended that you review their equipment and confirm that it meets your needs. Areas to measure include their SKU, automation, mapping, programming, and vacuum technology (among others).
- Don’t Forget the Changeover
Changeover speeds play a key role in the overall efficiency of packaging. The changeover refers to the process of converting the machine and automation line for the addition of a new product. When reviewing the suitability of a new supplier, you can actively investigate the efficiency of their changeover process. For instance, have they implemented measures to augment this process for the better or are they still operating on an outdated level?
For those who actively work to improve their changeover speed, this naturally translates to greater efficiency and flexibility with various products.
- End of Line Automation
Located at the end of the production line, EOL Automation is a dynamic technology that automatically packages and prepares products for delivery. End of line automation has dramatically increased packaging efficiency, improving project timelines and reducing costs.
Suppliers that are proficient with automated packaging systems can meet higher demands, streamline labour, improve production speed, and reduce workplace safety concerns.
Of course, the quality of the packaging itself is another deciding factor. To ensure a high-quality return, clear communication must take place between personnel in operations, marketing, purchasing, engineering, and supply. This will safeguard all parties from any confusion around project timelines, requirements, and package preparation.
Any existing limitations should be noted early so that solutions can be promptly developed and implemented.
Obviously, budget is a major concern for every company – particularly when products require large scale automated packaging systems. Staying on track of the factors listed above will help you to receive true value for money on your TCO. If you have any questions or concerns, your best bet is to reach out to prospective suppliers early. Beyond preliminary discussions, site visits of automation facilities may also take place during these initial stages.