Robots as a labor solution can be a hot topic for discussion, but one thing is certain among most packaging and processing executives: they do the job well.
That’s according to PMMI Business Intelligence’s 2023 report, “Sustainability and Technology – The Future of Packaging and Processing. A whopping 88% of executives surveyed for the report felt automation efforts had successfully addressed worker shortages and took over manual tasks. Another 8% deemed their efforts very successful, with a total success rate of 96%.
Automation to take over manual tasks
The use of cobots, automated guided vehicles (AGVs), and mobile robots came up repeatedly in responses and was credited with helping to automate a range of manufacturing tasks. Semi-automating previously manual lines was described by participants as particularly successful, with repetitive production operations such as packing product, batching, put-away, case packing, and palletizing singled out as good opportunities for automation.
Companies are committing to identifying opportunities for automation and investing in the technology.
“We are bringing in line owners early in the process,” said a principal packaging equipment engineer for a multinational food company. “Start associate training early and involving OEMs early.”
The senior engineering manager at a Fortune 50 multinational company advised that companies investing in automation “build in capability when you design the equipment – move customization products to the production line – eliminate the double handling.”
Substantial support was there for automation when used to eliminate repetitive or undesirable operator activities. A senior VP of engineering said their Fortune 500 packaged good company is “implementing solutions which reduce our low-skill tasks which typically have our highest turnover rate.”
A principal packaging engineer at a food company summed up the benefits of automation, saying, “A few recent automation projects have yielded positive results in associates embracing the new technology vs the manual operations. Often associates are asking me for more help in automating their processes with the hope of easing their overall workload.”
SOURCE: PMMI Business Intelligence, 2023 Sustainability and Technology – The Future of Packaging and Processing
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