Automation and Covid-19 – Why Is It So Important?

As we all know, Covid-19 and automation is a pretty topical subject right now, but why exactly is this? Why is automation deemed to be so pivotal to the recovery of the UK Economy in the aftermath of Covid-19?


Let’s start by taking a step back in time…

Following the 2007-2009 recession, one of the reasons the UK has not returned to the pre-crisis growth trend on GDP per head is due to what is known as the ‘Productivity Puzzle’. Productivity in the UK has taken nearly 10 years to recover to pre-crisis levels. However, we know that increasing productivity is essential to improving the economy and our standard of living. This is not done by making people work harder or faster, it is achieved when each hour of input is made to yield more output per hour than before. This is explained in more detail in the video below.

See the full transcript here.


So how does all this relate to automation and Covid-19?

In the wake of another economic downturn, we have the benefit of hindsight and reflection on previous economic downturns, and can use these to enable us to recover quicker from the current crisis.

Whilst the government have published their ‘Covid-19 Recovery Strategy’ there is pressure on them to publish a plan for the UK economic recovery. However, with the advantage of knowledge gained from previous recessions, we already know that increasing productivity is key to recovering quickly from this downturn. Automation has a key part to play in increasing productivity. Some specific examples of how automation will help us to recover from the situation created by Covid-19 are shown below.


Shift Work

As a result of Covid-19 there are two main reasons why shift work may have become a priority for some manufacturing companies; to meet additional demand, or additional shifts are now necessary as a result of social distancing measures.

There are a variety of different ways that automation can help assist with shift work. Processes can be automated to remove the need for manual labour, or automation can be used to assist production workers thus reducing the requirement for extra shifts to meet production requirements. Processes that can be quickly and easily automated are things such as palletising, quality checking, and box filling.


Social Distancing

As we all know, social distancing can create issues where your production process requires your employees to work closely together. Automation can be used to help overcome these barriers; processes can be fully automated to remove the need for manual labour, or partially automated to remove the need for more than one operator to complete the process.


Bringing Production Back In-house

With Covid-19 having caused such major disruption to supply chains, many companies are now looking to bring production processes back in-house or at least back home from abroad. As a result, this is causing many companies to re-think their entire production process and the way things are done. With the developments in automation over recent years, bringing production back in house, or back to the UK, does not necessarily mean an increase in the cost of goods produced. Payback can quickly be calculated using our Automation Project Payback calculator, and you will usually find that once you have also included the value of the intangible benefits of bringing production back in- house, the project payback time is very, very quick.


Increasing Productivity

One of the key takeaways from the Covid-19 epidemic for manufacturing companies, or those considering becoming a UK manufacturer, is that if we want to get ahead in the UK, our productivity (output per hour) must increase. One of the key methods of achieving this is by introducing automation. As you will have seen in the video above, if with automation one production worker can produce 50 widgets per hour rather than 10, output per hour increases by 500%! This shows how powerful automation is in increasing productivity. Find out what the productivity of your current production process is using our downloadable calculators.


If you would like to discuss anything in this article or require any further information, please don’t hesitate to contact us on 01223 499488 or


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Advantages and Disadvantages of Automated Palletising

Automated palletising is a machine or system that stacks products onto pallets. Palletisers may be either robotic or mechanical, and goods will usually be picked and placed as individual products or as a complete layer.

There are many advantages and disadvantages of automated palletising and these are explained here in more detail.

 Disadvantages of Automated Palletising 

  1. Capital Expenditure
    Automated palletising systems usually yield a positive ROI very quickly, however there is still always the need for an initial capital outlay. Before making a decision we recommend you consider both the investment needed and also the ROI you expect to achieve. When calculating ROI it is important to calculate the value of both the tangible and intangible benefits before deciding whether there is a business case for investment. Another alternative is to look at hiring or leasing the palletising system rather than making an outright purchase. Often the hire or leasing cost is less per month than the saving you will make.
  1. Gets Rid of Jobs
    This is indeed true that with the introduction of automated palletising, staff will no longer be required to palletise your products. However, statistics have shown that many companies have been able to re-train their staff to enable them to work in other areas of the business. Many companies have also found that after introducing automation and improving the throughput of their production process, their sales have risen, thus creating more jobs in different parts of the business. Staff morale is usually higher after implementing automation.
  1. Re-Programming Can Be Expensive When Product or Production Process Changes
    In most cases, when a product size or production process changes, a costly programmer is required to re-program the automated palletising system. However, with today’s advances in technology, there are now automated palletising systems available that can be re-programmed by your factory floor staff (see Granta Automation easy program palletiser). It is also possible to purchase modular palletising systems that can be quickly and easily moved and re-configured within your factory as and when your production process changes. Systems such as these ensure that your automated palletising system does not become redundant when your production process or product changes.


Advantages of Automated Palletising  

  1. Improved Working Environment
    Automated palletising improves the working conditions and safety within your production process or plant by eliminating the manual handling element of palletising and therefore removing the rise of repetitive strain injuries occurring. This in turn will significantly reduce the risk of RSI claims occurring and make a safer working environment for your staff.
  1. Cost Effectiveness
    Automated palletising systems can be programmed to run in sync with your production process. This means that for as many hours of the day that there are products coming off your production line, the automated palletiser will be palletising them. There is also no production downtime due to breaks, holidays or sick leave as the manual element of palletising has been removed. Removing these unplanned downtimes improves the OEE of your production process and increases throughput, thus increasing your profits.
  1. Effective Across Multiple Production Lines
    Depending on the layout of your production process you may have multiple palletising stations within your factory. This may mean that you need to have a person stationed at the end of each production process, but due to the speed of the product coming off the machine, they are not busy all of the time. This in itself creates an inefficiency in the process as you are effectively having to pay for wasted time/labour. With an automated palletising system it is possible to use one system for palletising off multiple production processes, thus increasing efficiencies.
  1. Improve Product Quality
    Automated palletising also results in less damaged product leaving your factory. This has a twofold benefit as it not only improves your customer service due to improved product quality, but also means you are less likely to receive damaged goods claims and returns.
  1. No Labour Crisis
    Recruiting for repetitive, manual labour tasks such as palletising is becoming increasingly difficult in the current environment. Installation of an automated palletising system eliminates the need to recruit for this role. 
  1. Payback On Investment
    Installing an automated palletising system usually has a very quick payback time as you are saving costs on labour as well as improving your efficiencies. Download our free Automation Project Payback Calculator to find out what the payback time would be for your process.

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Robotic Bag Palletiser Video

Have you seen this video?

More information on the GA15 Robotic Bag Palletiser can be found here.


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Have You Watched This Video?

GA15 Robotic Box Palletising Video

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Downloadable Safety Distance Calculator

Hazards must come to a safe state prior to an operator reaching the hazard. For safety distance calculations, ISO 13855 defines the distance as follows:

S = K x T + C:

To help you calculate safety distances we have created a downloadable safety distance calculator which can be downloaded via this link.

If you have any questions or difficulties filling it in, feel free to contact us on 01223 499488 and we will be glad to help.


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Zero Cost Ideas To Boost Factory Output

Boosting factory output is something that every manufacturing company wants to do as increased output directly translates into increased profits. However, this can often require capital investment, increased staff costs, and increase overheads, which all start to eat into that extra profit you can make by increasing your factory output.

Here we look into some zero cost ways that you can boost your factory output.


Track OEE

OEE (Overall Equipment Effectiveness) is a calculation that can be done to show exactly how effective your machinery or factory is. It takes into account the speed at which the machine or factory runs, the quality of the finished products produced and the actual machine operating time versus the available operating time. OEE is best calculated per machine rather than across the whole factory as it is then easier to identify where improvements need to be made to help improve productivity. An OEE calculator can be downloaded from here.

Once you have identified the OEE of your machinery, you will then be able to identify which parts of your process aren’t running at full efficiency. This will enable you to put measures in place to reduce or eliminate the inefficiencies, and thus improve the efficiency of your machinery.


Hold Daily Improvement Meetings

Daily improvement meetings are key to increasing employee engagement and creating an ownership mentality amongst your staff. Hold a daily whole team huddle and ask each of your staff to name an improvement they made the day before, or to make an improvement suggestion. Don’t limit your staff to just the area they work in, and don’t penalise them if they don’t have an idea to mention for a day or two. What you will find as a result from these daily meetings is that your staff start to take ownership for improving the business and driving better results. They become motivated by the part they have to play in the big picture of improving the business and they enjoy seeing their suggestions taken up. Often you will find that given the ‘rope’ to run with, your staff will come up with some very innovative and creative ways of improving processes.

Some of the ideas that come up in these meetings may also cause you to question some of your processes, and whether they are necessary, or duplicative. This is something that you can then investigate further outside of your daily team meetings.


Brainstorm With Employees

Hold a brainstorm session with your employees on how to boost your factory output. You will find that as your employees are working on the ‘coal face’, they will often have a different view to you as to what is restricting production output, and given the right forum they will often come up with innovative ways to solve these challenges. It may be a machine that’s always stopping, or a process that is not working properly so the process has to be done twice to achieve the desired result. All too often staff working on the factory floor will just work around inefficiencies in the process, and as a manager you may not even be aware of them. That is why it’s so beneficial to give your staff the forum to share their knowledge of these inefficiencies and to work together with them to find solutions.


Create A Daily Scoreboard

Everyone plays to win, and if you want your staff to play their best, they need to know if they’re winning. Involve your staff in creating daily personal or small team targets for their area of the production process. Their targets must be something that is directly influenceable by them, and achievable, otherwise it won’t have a motivating effect. If your staff have had part in creating the target there will be a far higher buy in than if the targets are forced on them.

Once you’ve agreed the targets, all you need is a piece of paper and a pen to create a scoreboard. Depending on the type of target you have agreed, all you need to then do is to update the scoreboard daily or hourly so that you staff can see exactly where they are in relation to their target. You will find that as you staff see their score going up and they can see their success, the pace will speed up and your production output will increase.


Identify Bottlenecks

Identifying and eliminating bottlenecks in your production process is key to improving output. Information on how to identify bottlenecks in your production process is available here. Once you have identified where your bottlenecks are, you will then be able to put strategies in place to ensure that your bottleneck is running at maximum efficiency. Quality checking parts before they enter the bottleneck, reducing the load on the bottleneck, and increasing the capacity of the bottleneck are all ways to exploit the bottleneck.

Once you have identified and exploited your bottleneck, you will often find that the bottleneck moves to another area of your production and you need to go through this process again to exploit that bottleneck.


Reduce Downtime

Reducing unplanned downtime is key to improving production output. Unplanned downtime is usually the result of one of two reasons; machine break downs, or staff breaks.

Machine break downs can be minimised by holding regular preventative maintenance sessions on your machinery. Whilst it may appear inefficient to regularly shut down your production for maintenance, if it is done in a planned manner, you will find there’s less lost production output from this than there would be from unplanned breakdowns.

Staff breaks are the other reason for downtime in a production process. There are two different approaches to minimising downtime from staff breaks, and you will need to decide which method works best for your production process. One method is to ensure that your staff take staggered breaks so that the production process can continue to run constantly. The other method is to ensure that your staff all take their breaks at the same time, for the same length of time. This means that your production process will stop for a set amount of time each day, but it will be predictable and controlled, and you know it will be running efficiently in between these break times.


Stay Organized

Disorganisation can result in many lost man-hours and wasted production time. Ensuring that your manufacturing plant is clearly organised and kept tidy will save many hours of lost production. Make sure every tool, part, or product has a clearly marked place where it should live.

When organising each working area think about how and when the tools or parts are going to be used, and ensure that they are stored in the most efficient place for what they are going to be used for. Think about your manufacturing floor as a whole, is everything in the most efficient place? Is there anything that could be easily and simply moved to improve efficiencies and thus improve production output?


Reduce The Walking

Reducing the walking that your production staff have to do is a basic lean principle of saving wasted time/motion. However, there is a further significant benefit to reducing walking that is not often talked about. When staff have to walk off your production process to get something, they will often be passing other staff on the way, and will often stop for a quick hello or a chat. Before you know it, 5 wasted minutes have passed. If one member of your production process is having a 5 minute chat every 50 minutes, this is reducing your productivity by 10%!

Look at your production process and see what walking is having to be done by your staff. Find ways to reduce the walking or minimise it as far as possible and you will start to see an increase in productivity.


Daily Production Line Audit

Take a daily walk around your production area, and make sure you do this at a different time each day. Before you go for your walk around, take off your managers ‘hat’ and put on your improvements, problem finder ‘hat’; take a view of your production as a whole with no preconceptions. Talk to your staff, find out what’s gone well for them so far today and what hasn’t.

As you do these daily walk rounds you will begin to build up a picture of what is actually going on in the production process and you will start to see where the inefficiencies are and where improvements could be made. It may even make you start to question some of the processes and whether they are necessary of if there could be a better way of doing them.


Identify Wastage

Identifying wastage in your process is key to streamlining and improving your production output. The eight key wastes in lean manufacturing are;

  1. Overproduction
  2. Waiting (time on hand)
  3. Unnecessary transport or conveyance
  4. Overprocessing or incorrect processing
  5. Excess inventory
  6. Motion
  7. Defects
  8. Unused employee genius

Analyse your production processes, which of these wastes do you have, how can you minimise or eliminate them?


Get New Machinery At No Net Cost To Your Bottom Line

Having worked through all of the above you may find that you need to introduce some new machinery to improve your production process. If this is the case, you need to look for a company that offers finance deals on the purchase of new machinery such as palletisers, bespoke machinery, vision systems, etc. With the right finance deal, you will find that you will be getting more ROI from the new machinery than the repayments on the finance deal. What’s more, with a finance deal there is no need for an initial capital outlay as repayments can be spread over a longer period of time, enabling you to realise the benefit of the new machinery whilst making capital repayments. Try our automation project payback calculator as this calculates ROI as well as showing finance deal options and costs. Download the calculator here.


If you would like to discuss any aspect of this article in more detail then feel free to contact us on 01223 499488.


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What Type of Robot Do I Need?

When specifying a robot for an application there are many different things that need to be considered. What space is available? What is the robot going to be lifting? What speeds need to be achieved? What environment is it in? How accurate does the robot need to be when picking and placing the item? These are just a few of the question that need to be answered before you will be able to select the best robot for your application.

The best place to start is to analyse exactly what you want the robot to do. What are you trying to achieve by installing a robot? What space have you got available? What does the throughput need to be to make the project viable?

Below we explain in more detail what the different types of robot are, and what applications they are most suited to.


Collaborative robots

Collaborative robots have been designed to allow a human to work alongside them without the need for guarding. They are typically slower than industrial robots and have a lower payload. However, they have the benefits of force monitoring, and the fact that they often don’t need guarding.

Some of the more common uses for collaborative robots include; pick and place, machine tending, gluing, dispensing, welding, polishing, grinding, de-burring, assembly, painting, coating, dipping.

Introducing cobots to your production process does not only have the benefit of reducing the risk of repetitive strain injuries occurring, but can also have the added impact of reducing wastage of consumables in such as glue, fasteners etc.


Industrial robots

There are four main subcategories of industrial robot, each of which is explained in more detail below.

Robotic Arm

Probably the most common type of pick and place robot is the robotic arm type. They typically come as 5 axis robots for standard pick and place applications in a horizontal plane, or 6 axis robots for more complex applications where the products needs twisting from the horizontal. Robotic arms are able to work with a high degree of accuracy at high speeds, and are able to take high payloads.

Some of the most common applications for industrial robots include: welding, material handling, machine tending, painting, pick and place, packing, palletising, assembly, cutting, grinding, de-burring, polishing, gluing, adhesive sealing, and spraying materials.

Cartesian Robot

Cartesian robots are also known as linear or gantry robots. They are a very common type of pick and place robot that used to be cheaper, but is now not so commonly installed apart from for injection moulding machine applications. The advantages of a Cartesian robot is that they have high positional accuracy and can handle heavy loads. However, the disadvantage of a Cartesian robot is that movement is limited to only one direction at a time.

Applications that suit Cartesian robots include pick and place operations, loading and unloading, material handling, assembly and sub-assembly, and adhesive applications.

Delta Robot

Delta robots are mounted above the workspace and are typically used for high speed pick and place, or product transfer applications. The advantages of delta robots are their high speed and high operational accuracy.

Scara Robot

Scara robots, also known as fast pick robots, are an excellent option for fast pick and place applications; with cycle times as fast as 150 cycles per minute. Fast pick robots can also be used in packaging and assembly processes as well.


Robot Grippers

As robots can handle such a wide variety of products, the gripper on a robot is usually custom made to suit the application. However, there are four main types of gripper; vacuum, pneumatic, hydraulic and servo-electric.


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What Is A Palletiser?

A palletiser is an automated machine or system that stacks products onto pallets. Palletisers can be robotic or mechanical and goods will usually be palletised either as a complete layer or as individual products.


What Are The Advantages Of Automated Palletising?

Automated palletising brings many different advantages. Some of these are explained in detail below.

Reduces the risk of repetitive strain injury

Manual palletising processes carry a high risk of repetitive strain injury. This is due to the fact that when a pallet is being stacked by hand, there is a large amount of manual handling involved that is very repetitive in nature. An automated palletising system will remove the manual handling element of the palletising process and will completely eliminate the risk of RSI.

Eliminates potential bottlenecks

If product coming off the production line is not able to be manually palletised as quickly as the optimum running speed of the machine, the palletising process becomes the bottleneck in your production process. An automated palletising system will remove this bottleneck as it can be designed to run at the speeds that are suited to the optimum production rate of your line. If your production line is otherwise fully automated, having an automated palletiser at the end of the production line also enables you to run your production unmanned 24/7, thus increasing the amount of product you can produce.

Improves production speed and eliminates downtime

With an automated palletiser, production speeds can also be increased. This is due to the fact that your palletiser can be programmed to pick and place goods onto pallets at the speed that is best suited to your production process. In a manual palletising process, production often stops whilst your staff stop for coffee breaks, chats and lunch. This immediately reduces your production output by the quantity of product that could have been produced during this time. With an automated palletiser at the end of the line, production can continue to run throughout break times, thereby enabling you to improve your production speeds. On average there is a 40% improvement in production speeds when automated palletising is introduced as the palletising of products is not stopping or slowing down when your staff stop for a break or a chat. An OEE calculator is a very helpful tool to use to find out if your process is running at the optimum speed.


What Are The Disadvantages Of Automated Palletising?

As automation advances, there are becoming fewer and fewer disadvantages of automated palletising. There are however still a few areas that may be considered as disadvantages, but virtually all of these can be overcome.

Products are irregular in size and shape

For some palletising systems this may still present an issue to automating the palletising process. However, with the various developments in technology, mixed case palletising is now a possibility. Also, with the many developments in gripper technologies, there are now very few products that cannot be automatically picked and placed onto a pallet. Quick and easy programming software that can be set by your factory staff also overcomes this issue as it is very quick and easy to change the stack configuration without having to call in a specialist programmer.

Capital expenditure

As with any machinery or system, there is always the need for an initial capital outlay. However, there are some companies that will now offer a try before you buy scheme. The free trial service gives you the opportunity to see how your product would work on an automated palletising system before you commit to the capital expenditure. This means that if for some reason you find that automated palletising doesn’t work for you, you don’t lose the capital you have spent on it and don’t end up with a redundant system clogging up your factory floor space. Finance schemes are also available and these typically cost less per month than the savings you are making on a monthly basis by having automated your process.

Downtime during installation

Downtime during installation can cost a lot to your company, particularly if you’re running a process where you are producing high volumes of product per hour. If you are currently manually palletising the product, downtime during install may not be as much of a problem for you as those that are replacing an existing automated palletising system. The Granta GA15 palletising system is the answer to this, as the system is modular and can be installed in a day which vastly reduces the downtime required.


What Do I Need To Consider When Installing A Palletiser?

What will the payback be?

When considering installing a palletiser it is always useful to calculate the payback that this will give you. We have developed an automation payback calculator that is available for download as part of our Robotics and Automation Resources Pack .

Whilst this automation payback calculator enables you to calculate the value of the tangible benefits of installing a palletiser, it can often be useful to also calculate the value of the intangible benefits. An intangible benefits calculator is also included in our Robotics and Automation Resource Pack and can be downloaded here

What if my production process changes and I no longer need a palletiser?

In some industries, certain products have a very short life cycle, and with the short life cycle of the product, investing in a palletising system can seem very costly and inefficient. However, if you choose your palletising system carefully, it will be possible to easily re-deploy the palletising system to another line once the life cycle of your product is ended. Key things to look out for are programming software that doesn’t require a specialist to program the palletiser, and modular systems that don’t leave your factory floor in a mess when you uninstall and reinstall the system.


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Quick Wins To Reduce Your Overheads And Improve Profits

In January we all tend to review the previous year to see how we can improve this year, so these Quick Wins on how to reduce your production overheads should come in useful!

The first category outlines ways to directly reduce your overheads, whilst the second and third categories are items that are often not thought of as directly relating to reducing overheads but do indeed have a significant impact.


Reduce Overheads

There are several simple steps you can take to reduce your overheads, many of which do not need any capital outlay to introduce.

  1. Reduce the cost of materials – Review your buying prices and check that the prices you are paying are competitive. Ask your supplier for an early payment discount. Review your product, is there a cheaper material that could be used without compromising on quality, or could you use less of the same material?
  2. Review your production process – Production processes often evolve over time, and can sometimes mean that you end up with processes being applied during the manufacturing process that may no longer be necessary. Are your products being over engineered, are there any non-value adding processes being used? Review your process to see if there are any steps in the production process that could be eliminated or combined to reduce costs.
  3. Reduce waste – waste can mean many different things. It can involve time, raw material, downtime and faulty finished products. Does your production process stop when your staff stop for tea breaks? Is there raw material being wasted? Do you have a lot of finished product that has to be rejected due to quality issues? These are all issues that with planning, can be reduced or even eliminated and will result in less waste and more net profit.
  4. Introduce lean manufacturing – Lean manufacturing is a proven method for reducing overheads, with the main focus being on reducing waste in the production process. More information on The Toyota Way of lean manufacturing is available here.
  5. Track expenses and set departmental budgets – tracking expenses and setting departmental budgets with a specific persons responsible for monitoring each departments budget enables you to track and monitor expenses. Once you know what your expenses are, it is then possible to evaluate and reduce your expenses.
  6. Identify inefficiencies in your process – do you know exactly how effective your machinery or production process is? Is it being used to its full potential? Use an OEE calculator (Overall Equipment Effectiveness Calculator) to identify how effective your machine or production process is. Find out where your inefficiencies and spare capacity are and then exploit them.
  7. Automate to reduce labour costs – Introducing automation can be a very sustainable way to reduce labour overheads. Using an accurate automation payback calculator you will be able to quickly see what the return on investment is for automating any part of your production process.
  8. Brainstorm with employees – Hold a brainstorming sessions with your employees on how to reduce overheads. Often we find that our employees who work on the ‘coal face’ see things in a different light to managers. When given the right forum, they will often come up with innovative ideas on how to reduce overheads.


Increase Productivity

Increasing the productivity of any machine or indeed your whole production process will have a positive impact on your net profit. This short video explains why productivity is so important.

Below are some proven methods that will enable you to increase your productivity.

  1. Train your staff – Training your staff enables them to complete their job more effectively and efficiently. Staff that don’t have the needed training to complete their role effectively often end up having to waste time asking other members of staff for help or guidance on how to complete tasks. This has a cost implication to your profit as it results in two people having to waste time on a conversation about how to do something, rather than working on a task that is adding value to the product that you are producing. Training also motivates staff and motivated staff are known to achieve more than unmotivated staff.
  2. Identify how productive your processes are – Understanding how productive your current processes are is the first step to improving productivity. There are many methods available for doing this, but the preferred method is to calculate the Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) of a specific machine, or your production process. An OEE calculator is available for you to download here. Once you have calculated this, you will then have the information you need to enable you to identify how you can improve efficiency.
  3. Eliminate bottlenecks – Identifying and eliminating bottlenecks in your production process is key to improving productivity. With an efficient flow of good quality products being produced, you will be able to sell more product with less quality issues which will result in increased profit. More information on identifying and exploiting bottlenecks is available here.
  4. Improve production speed – having identified how productive your processes are and where you bottlenecks are, you can then use this information to improve your production speed. With improved production speed, you will be able to produce more parts per hour, which in turn means you have more product to sell and make a profit on.
  5. Eliminate downtime – downtime in a production process translates directly to a loss of profits. Every minute that your production process isn’t working, you are losing the opportunity to make more product to sell. There are several different methods that can be used to eliminate downtime such as; staggered staff breaks, instant fault reporting systems, and regular machinery maintenance to minimise the risk of breakdowns. Downtime can also be eliminated by introducing automated systems to remove the need for human input; eg. end of line palletising systems, vision inspection systems for quality control, machine tending robots, etc.
  6. Introduce extra shifts with ‘Lights Out Automation’ – Introducing automation that can run without operator input throughout the night, or at least for an hour or two after everyone goes home at the end of the day, is also a sure way to increase your productivity. You may only need a basic end of line system such as a palletising systems to enable you to achieve this, or you many need a more advanced, custom built solution.


Reduce Production Costs Per Hour

Whilst this many not be an entirely obvious method for reducing your overheads, reducing your production costs per hour does have a direct impact on overheads. The money you save in the production of the products that you sell converts directly to an increased profit.

Reducing production costs can be done in a variety of different ways, some of which have been outlined below:

  1. Reduce the walking – Reducing the walking time for staff is a basic lean principal as it reduces wasted motion. However there is also a further significant impact in reducing the walking in that it removes unnecessary socialising between production staff. When staff have to walk off from the production area to get something, pass a few other staff members on the way and have a quick chat, before you know it 5 wasted minutes have passed. If there is one of these chats every 50 minutes that is reducing your productivity by 10%! Reducing the walking reduces the chances of these chats happening and in turn reduces your production costs.
  2. Daily improvements and suggestions – your staff on the factory floor know your production process the best. Asking your staff on a daily basis to make an improvement or suggest an improvement has a significant impact. Your staff then start to develop an ownership mentality and are continually looking for ways to improve. Whilst a lot of these improvements may be small, when improvements are made daily by every member of staff, the net result is significant. Improvements in time and efficiency will have a direct result in reducing production costs.
  3. Create production targets and display them live in your factory – Include your staff in creating a production target that they will be able to directly influence. Displaying this target live in the factory, along with their current score, will have an incredible motivating effect on your staff. As with any game, if you’re playing to win, you need to know your current position to enable you to win. If you then tie these targets in with a reward system, you will find that your staff will become self-motivated to hit production targets.
  4. Pace staff with automation – It is a known fact that as staff reach the end of their shift, their concentration begins to lapse, and their pace is likely to slow down. This can have an impact on production speeds and quality control, which in turn limits the amount of products produced and can result in increased quality control issues. This issue can be overcome by pacing staff with automation; which could be something as simple as a slow moving conveyor that moves products past staff at a set pace. The other option is to automate particular parts of the process such as product labelling, vision inspection or product counting.
  5. Introduce automated processes – Automation allows you to reduce the labour costs of your production process without compromising on the standard of items being produced. One machine can perform the task of a number of workers, while never falling sick, taking time off or requiring lunch breaks; making production even more cost effective. Automation of quality control processes also reduces production costs as it eliminates the risk of human error in detecting faulty parts and products.  It also ensures that faulty parts and products are rejected before reaching despatch.


As you can see, reducing overheads does not need to be a costly exercise. Often some of the simplest activities can have a significant impact.

Feel free to contact us on 01223 499488 or if you require any further information or would like to discuss any of these concepts further.


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What Are The Benefits Of Automated Packaging?

Automated packaging of products can bring many benefits to your company. Some of these benefits are obvious, tangible benefits, and others are more intangible, but nevertheless equally beneficial to your company and your bottom line profit.

Automated packaging of products can mean many different things to different people and your interpretation depends entirely on the market you are in. For some it may mean the packaging of food into containers, or liquids into bottles; whereas for others, it may mean the binding together and wrapping of large sheets of material. With this diversity of product, automated packaging systems are also very diverse, and often have to be bespoke made to meet a company’s requirements.

Whilst these is often the need to package each individual product, there is also often the need to further box and palletise these products to make them ready to ship. When this process is automated, it can also be referred to as automated packaging.


Let’s start by looking into some of the tangible benefits of automated packaging;

Reduces The Risk Of Repetitive Strain Injury
Repetitive strain injury risks are lowered when products are packed automatically rather than manually. This is due to the fact that automation removes the need for human input to complete repetitive manual tasks. Not sure how high the risk of RSI is in your process? Download our repetitive strain injury risk assessment form and find out now.

Eliminate Potential Bottlenecks
Manual packaging processes can often lead to bottlenecks within a production process when human errors occur. Automated packaging processes can help to eliminate this bottleneck as a bespoke machine will be designed to keep up with the flow off the production line. With automated packaging there is also less scope for packaging errors, which in turn leads to less downtime and bottlenecks.

Improved Production Speed
Automating your packaging process can lead to improved production speeds. Often when there is a manual packaging process, the machine producing the product is not able to run at full capacity as the manual packaging process is not able to keep up with this level of output. By automating the packaging of the products you are then able to remove this constraint and improve your production speed.

Eliminate Downtime
As with any process involving manual labour, staff are entitled to breaks. Often in factories this means that production stops during these breaks resulting in downtime and loss of production. With an automated packaging solution, these breaks no longer happen, and the machines can be run 24/7 if required.

To find out more about the tangible benefits of automated packaging, download our automation payback calculator here.


Intangible benefits are harder to define, but below are some of the more common intangible benefits:

Increased Staff Morale
Factory staff packaging products are often working relatively long hours on repetitive tasks that quickly become mind numbing and boring. As the boredom sets in, the pace unintentionally slows and very quickly the production output can settle to a pace that is a lot less efficient and effective than it could be. Also, when staff are bored and only half concentrating on the job at hand, mistakes start to happen, which can then result in product defects or health and safety issues etc. If repetitive jobs, such are packaging of products, are automated then staff can be re-deployed to other areas of the business that are less mundane; which in turn creates more engagement and job satisfaction.

Increased Sales Due To Reduced Product Cost
Whilst there is the initial need for capital outlay when introducing an automated packaging system to your process this needs to be considered carefully. It is important to calculate what your current costs are in terms of production speeds, staffing costs, product defects, RSI claims, etc. Without a complete picture of your current cost, and a knowledge of the added value of increased production speeds that an automated packaging system would bring, it is impossible to get a complete picture of how quickly your capital investment will pay for itself. Introducing an automated packaging system usually results in reduced product cost and the capacity to manufacture more products, thus creating more product to sell and resulting in increased profit on your bottom line.

Better Customer Service
With an automated packaging process the risk of product defects and recalls is significantly decreased. This along with the increased production capacity enables you to give your customers a better service. As we all know, better customer services results in more loyal customers and repeat business bringing greater profits to your company.

To find out more about the intangible benefits of automated packaging, download our intangible benefits calculator here.


Although we have only covered a few of the benefits of automated packaging, as you can see, there are many visible benefits as well as hidden benefits of automating this process. If you would like any help in calculating the value of these tangible or intangible benefits, feel free to contact us on 01223 499488 and we will be very happy to help.

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Posted in Auto Palletiser, GA15 Palletiser, Palletiser, Palletising, Robotic Palletising | Tagged , | Comments Off on What Are The Benefits Of Automated Packaging?