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Improving Operations Through Comprehensive Testing, Experience, and Support Services

By Rick Hantke

July 7, 2023

Providing value above and beyond the physical equipment is a key challenge for suppliers and original equipment manufacturers in the corrugated industry. Leading manufacturers leverage decades of experience in producing innovative automated solutions to recognize and act on trends in customer behavior. From installing fully customized lines to optimizing specific applications, a leading manufacturer’s ability to reimagine customer operations for improved efficiency has revealed key insights into the unseen benefits that should be considered before choosing a supplier.

The people behind the equipment and technology can be key differentiators in improving day-to-day operations. Supplementing these technologies with advanced product knowledge and testing, diverse industry experience among team members, and flexible and reliable support post-implementation allows boxmakers to level up their operations.

Product Knowledge and Testing

Whether the leap to automation and its investment is large or small, change management is significant. In response to this challenge, one industry manufacturer recently expanded its packaging and testing lab. This facility enables customers to test the resiliency and efficacy of packaging performance by replicating real-world transit conditions. Manufacturers can observe firsthand how their specific pain points can be addressed by automation prior to mass rollout across operations.

A large-scale investment, meaning a complete shift from manual processes to full automation, can feel daunting. Conducting a comprehensive series of tests that mirror real-life conditions and processes ahead of committing to such an investment is a game changer for manufacturers on the fence about automation. Test results often reveal that adopting an automated process provides significant savings in overall cost and materials, all while supporting more consistent packaging performance and enhanced load protection.

Small-scale integration also requires strategy and planning, considering that even the most efficient processes could still improve. For example, a successful solar panel supplier is looking for cost savings without compromising the security of its fragile loads. Testing for this challenge in the lab could indicate that it doesn’t need to revamp its whole operation. By simply switching to a thinner strap to package the solar panels, it may realize immediate material cost savings while maintaining load integrity. This minor adjustment could also expand the possibilities for future automation and output growth for this manufacturer.

Diverse Industry Experience on a Team

A team with diverse industry backgrounds offers a range of perspectives and approaches to problem-solving, leading to creative and comprehensive solutions to operational challenges. Many times, while testing for a solution to a specific challenge, additional opportunities for process improvement can be found. These discoveries not only uncover potential for automation but also strengthen the trust and partnership between the manufacturer and customer.

Not every production challenge requires a complete process and equipment overhaul. Rather than applying a generic solution, a team with niche industry experience can provide tailored upgrades that address specific needs and lead to impactful improvements.

Across the board, manufacturers are focusing on their physical equipment offerings, but what will separate the good from the great is the knowledge and experience of the teams that support the ongoing integration and upkeep of your automation investments.

Rick Hantke is director of marketing for automation and packaging technologies at Signode.