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Automation

5 Pitfalls to Avoid When Automating Your Packaging Hall

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Automated industrial machinery and flexible robots are now staples across the plant floor as the meat processing industry strives to improve operational efficiencies, address labor shortages, and improve insights across multiple systems and facilities.

Automation of repetitive, labor-intensive work processes help maintain predictability in meat processing. However, discussions around successful enterprise level implementations are less common. And so, while many companies are expressing an interest in automated packaging solutions, some fail to consider the right partnerships, the right processes, and the right outcomes, creating pitfalls in their automation strategy. Reduce risk within your automated processes by avoiding the following missteps.  


Taking an All-or-Nothing Approach

Think about your operational goals, equipment, processes, and products moving through your packaging line to help identify areas in which your specific operation will see value in automated process improvements. While incorporating automation at every stage of the process may seem like the ideal solution, a one-size-fits-all approach may not be the right fit for your specific site or line. Consider developing an automation plan that alleviates your most problematic operational bottlenecks first. Then, you’ll have a more appropriate starting point that facilitates future automation expansion and improvements as your operations evolve over time.


Thinking Installation Equals Optimization

No doubt, there’s a heightened sense of urgency when it comes to automation in the meat packing industry. Ensuring your automation strategy and expectations are clear and realistic to internal and external stakeholders is key to a successful and swift implementation. An automated line does not become optimized upon installation, it will need to be fine-tuned to the rest of the operation. Whether you need to optimize a single line or develop a full floor, plan for efficiencies to be realized over time to account for capital investments, project scope, training, and more.


Assuming Automation Is a Drop-In Replacement

Automated solutions are not one-to-one replacements for your existing workflows. The processes within an automated packaging environment will look different than those currently optimized for manual operations. This transition will require thoughtful planning and evaluation, plus a willingness to modify existing procedures. Quite simply, be prepared to address change management challenges, and don’t assume all processes will look the same post implementation.


Failing To Plan for a Cultural Shift

Automation is about creating culture as much as it is about bringing in modern technology. Thoroughly communicate with those on the line that robots are not taking jobs away, but rather allowing for better use of time by reducing the number of repetitive manual processes that are better suited for machines. Packaging lines are notoriously labor intensive. With automation, jobs can be made physically easier, leading to lower turnover rates and the ability to apply scarce human labor in your plant where skills are needed most.


Not Selecting the Right Automation Partner

Perhaps the most critical steps in automating your packaging processes are to choose the right partner and bring them in early. Foster a partnership with an OEM that understands your unique challenges and will help design and integrate low maintenance, high reliability automation solutions and technologies. The right packaging automation partner is the one who helps you with troubleshooting, design and modifications, installation and start-up, and staff training. Most importantly, it’s the one who stays with you before, during, and after project completion.


If you’re looking for an experienced, insightful approach to a next-level packaging process, only Sealed Air can bring together three critical elements to help you get there.

We uniquely combine innovative workstreams that bring together equipment and materials to offer the most comprehensive performance packaging and operational enhancements possible. When we apply that philosophy to all the pieces of equipment in the packaging hall, your plant and your business are better positioned to keep operating today, tomorrow, and beyond.

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