The efficiency of your packaging line is going to determine how quickly products move from your inventory to the consumer. If you want to keep your profits moving and stop inventory from piling up, you want to fully understand how to measure your packaging line efficiency. Once you know how to recognize inefficiency on the packaging line, you can take the necessary steps to improve your overall rate of packaging.

What is the Packaging Line?

The packaging line is where boxes are fed into the system, erected into their final shape, filled with the proper products, and sealed before being unitized on pallets or through other methods. This process can be done by manual labor or through the use of automated or semi-automated machines. Depending on the volume of products you expect to ship in a given time period, you’ll need to select the right method for your packaging line to be successful. Low volumes can rely on manual labor while high volumes will likely require automation to get the highest packaging line efficiency.

How to Measure Packaging Line Efficiency

To measure your packaging line efficiency, you’ll have to compare the actual output of materials to the expected output you create. When creating your expected output, you’ll need to be realistic based on the equipment and labor available to you. A small company without automation can’t expect to output as many products as a national company with fully-automated packaging lines.

You also need to factor in timing to your expected output. This means determining how many products should be sealed away each time your packaging line is run. The efficiency of your packaging line is timed only when it’s running. This means eliminating any time spent setting up or performing routine maintenance. These times will be factored into the total amount of time spent running the whole packaging system from setup to palletization, but they are not included in the time it takes your packaging line to complete a run.

Once you have your estimated output determined, you’ll want to monitor your packaging line to see if the actual output is similar or if there is a big difference in the numbers. If you find the actual output is not meeting your expectations, it’s time to think about how you want to improve the efficiency of your packaging line to reach the desired output of materials.

How to Recognize Areas of Improvement

When monitoring the packaging line to determine its efficiency, you’ll want to make detailed notes about when the system stops, how long it’s stopped for, and why it stops in the first place. You’ll also want to recognize when production is slowed and why it’s slowed. There are a lot of factors that can determine when a system stops or slows, and identifying these situations is the first step to finding areas of improvement.

Often, stops in the system or slower periods of production are caused by the materials used. How packaging supplies are stored before use can affect how they perform on the production line. If materials are exposed to hazardous environments with high humidity or extreme temperatures, they won’t perform well during application. This remains true for fibrous boxes and cartons that can warp under pressure from their environment.

When supplies are warped before use, they cannot be effectively run through machines for folding. This can cause machines to stop running or slow down to produce the erected box. Manual laborers also experience setbacks because warped materials are harder to form into the correct shape before filling.

Other improvements can be made by upgrading old and worn-down machines or switching to newer materials that are easier to work with. These changes are more expensive and time-consuming, but they should be done every few years when necessary to keep your packaging line up to speed with the latest improvements in the industry.

You should be measuring your packaging line efficiency often to ensure your business goals are being met. When they are not being met, you should find ways to improve the system. If they are being met, then you know you have high packaging line efficiency. High efficiency allows you to maintain your profits by supplying the correct number of products in the right amount of time.

Now that you understand how to measure your packaging line efficiency and how to make improvements, you can optimize it to produce your desired output. There are endless ways to improve the packaging line, but you have to understand how to measure your current packaging line efficiency to get your starting point.