Independent cart technology answers the call for a better way to manage the high-mix, agile packaging needs of our made-to-order world.
How do you automate the packaging process in a made-to-order world? Consumer demand for different sizes, shapes and flavors has completely changed the way CPG brand owners and manufacturers produce and package their goods. And for OEMs, this trend means that your packaging equipment needs to perform differently than ever before.
The reality is, most packaging lines aren’t equipped for rapidly changing demand. Conventional conveyance just can’t keep up. Producers are finding themselves in a highly manual conundrum of delivering in this high-mix environment without the proper automated packaging solutions to make it cost-effective.
The Amazon Effect
The Amazon Effect has an unquestionable impact on how retailers go to market. But, the underlying movement of changing consumer demands and expectations goes far beyond brick or click shopping habits. Manufacturers are equally pressured to produce and package high-mix, low-volume products as demand for specialization and variety packs is doing nothing but increasing, and fast.
Imagine there are a dozen products running through the same packaging line. A product may run for a few days, then the hours-long changeover process takes place, causing all work-in-progress to stop before the next product has its turn. This practice can mean building up a month’s worth of inventory for each product because it could be that long before it gets time back on the line again.
This scenario isn’t uncommon. Living with lengthy changeovers is something producers do, because given budget constraints and legacy systems, they just have to.
Through an army of delta robots, a variable pitch infeed and a couple of smart valves, most machines in operation today can expand pack sizes, from 6 to 12 to 24. It takes a while for the changeover, hurting productivity, but it is possible.
With the Amazon Effect however, you may need a variety of flavors in each of those six, 12 or 24 packs. From here, things get really manual, really fast. Top CPG companies and local producers alike are finding themselves literally unpacking single-product packs and manually repacking into rainbow packs. Picture the packaging waste. The money lost. The already critical challenge of finding workers, compounded by needing even more manual labor.
As OEMs, you have an opportunity to solve these challenges for your customers using efficient, agile and intelligent automated packaging solutions.