Automation in Transit Packaging

As a business you are no doubt familiar with the issues that arise from goods being damaged in transit; unhappy customers, returns and refunds, admin work in sorting out the issues, etc.  All of these are no doubt areas that you wish to spend less time in!

If you are experiencing these sort of issues, one of the key areas to investigate is your pallet stacking and wrapping process.  If goods are stacked and wrapped securely, it makes for better pallet stability and minimises the risk of transit damage.

In this article we are going to look briefly at the role of automation in transit packaging.

 

Automated Palletising

Manual palletising can often result in inconsistent and unstable pallet stacks, which in turn can lead to goods being damaged in transit. It carries a high risk of repetitive strain injuries occurring, and the subsequent implications of staff having to be off work for long periods of time plus the cost of any resulting claims can quickly add up. Manual palletising can also limit throughput capacity and become a bottleneck in your production process.

Automated palletising results in neater, more consistently stacked pallets, with better pallet stability. This is due to the accuracy of the palletising system in consistently placing product in the right place on the pallet. An automated system will not stop for breaks and therefore increases your throughput, and improves production efficiency, typically increasing throughput to at least 140%.

There are many automated palletising systems available, so it is important to ensure that the system you choose will not only provide the immediate benefit of better pallet stacks, but will also service your future requirements. It is important ensure the system has an integrated stack builder that creates the optimum stack pattern for your product. Choosing a system with easy programming software will also allow you to quickly and easily re-program the system to palletise different box sixes.

 

Automated Pallet Wrapping

Wrapping pallets by hand can result in pallets that are not wrapped tightly or securely enough. This in turn can lead to shift during transit and result in transit damage.

Automating this process ensures pallets are securely and consistently wrapped which reduces the risk of shift during transit and therefore minimises transit damage. It also reduces wastage, resulting in lower costs.  Automated pallet wrapping can either be installed as a standalone cell, or integrated into the palletising process.

There are many automated pallet wrapping solutions available, so it is important to ensure that the solution you choose meets your requirements.  Chosen wisely, you will be able to reduce your pallet wrap costs, reduce downtime due to pallet wrap changes, and reduce waste by using less wrap per pallet.

 

Automation ROI

Payback on installing an automated palletising system can be less than one year. As a rule of thumb, if you have one person at the end of a line palletising product for one shift per day, payback is approximately three years. However, if you are running three shifts, the payback time then becomes less than a year. If you then include the intangible benefits, such as reduced risk of RSI, less transit damage claims, etc. the payback time becomes quicker still. Granta have an automation payback calculator and intangible benefits calculator that you can download to help you accurately forecast the ROI of investing in automation. https://www.granta-automation.co.uk/resources

 

Other Automation

Another example where automation plays a part in reducing transit damage is the automation of container unloading and palletising.  If containers are unloaded and palletised consistently and securely, this results in better pallet stability for storage and onward transport. Not only this, but it also improves efficiency as it reduces manual labour requirements and improves throughput.  Granta have recently installed one of these systems for a leading supermarket brand and as a result they are saving a minimum of 119 man hours per week.

 

Summary

In summary, automation of pallet stacking and wrapping processes play a key part in increasing pallet stability and reducing the risk of transit damage. The payback on installing an automated system is often less than one year.

 

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Automated Container Unloading and Palletising – Watch the Video

Have you watched this automated container unloading and palletising video?

 
More information is available here https://www.granta-automation.co.uk/automated-container-unloading-palletiser 

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How To Ensure CapEx Plans Will Yield The Best ROI

Ensuring your CapEx plans will yield the best return on investment is key to any successful business.  However, the first step is not necessarily one that would usually spring to mind!

What Are The Core KPIs Of Your Company?
Identifying and subjecting your CapEx decisions to the core KPIs of your company is key to ensuring the best ROI for your capital expenditure. All too often, when evaluating and allocating CapEx budgets it can be easy to lose focus of the core company goals, and become diverted by projects that aren’t necessarily going to bring the best ROI to the company. Having identified the core KPIs of your company, you can then move on to;

What Is The Bottleneck That Is Stopping You From Achieving Those KPIs
Having a clear understanding of what is stopping you from achieving those KPIs is the first step to knowing what area you need to focus on. A bottleneck occurs when part of a process has a lower throughput capacity than the rest of the process. Identifying your main bottleneck can often be a very straightforward process, and may even be something you are already aware of.  However, sometimes it can be a lot harder to identify, and you may need to create a flowchart of the process where you believe the bottleneck may be, and then work through this flowchart until you find the bottleneck.  Bottlenecks can occur due to anything from a lack of capacity to process at the necessary speed, to breakdowns and breaks slowing the process down. Further details on identifying and exploiting bottlenecks are available here. Having identified the bottleneck you can then move on to the next process;

What Needs To Be Done To Exploit The Bottleneck?
Identifying the reason for the bottleneck and finding the best solution to it is often achieved by a team brainstorm session. Involving those that are closely acquainted with the current process is often the best way of clearly establishing what the weaknesses of the current systems are, and what solutions could be used to resolve these issues. With a clear idea of why the bottleneck is occurring, and some suggested solutions, it is then possible to gain an understanding of what needs to be done to exploit the bottleneck. This may be something as simple as streamlining your process, staggering staff breaks, or running a regular maintenance schedule.  However, it may mean that you need to automate part of your process or purchase another machine so that you can produce parts faster.  This then leads on to:

How Do I Calculate The ROI Of My CapEx Investment?
Calculating the ROI of your CapEx Investment to enable you to compare the ROI on different solutions is the next step. Once of the best ways to do this is to use a comprehensive ROI Payback calculator as this will take into consideration many different factors such as; current machine downtime, staff breaks, defect percentages and costs, etc. You will then be able to establish the payback period for each investment. It is also important to investigate the value of intangible benefits for your proposed investments as this will also play a significant part in the overall ROI that you can expect to achieve. Having calculated these figures for the different solution, you then have meaningful data that you can compare to enable you to see which solution is going to provide the best ROI for the company in the long run. Next step:

Find The Next Bottleneck!
Having found a solution to your bottleneck, you can then go through this process again to establish where the next bottleneck is that is stopping you from achieving your company KPIs.

Conclusion
Whilst this process may not be the most commonly used for identifying and allocating capital expenditure, it is one of the best methods of keeping your CapEx focussed on yielding the best return on investment for the company. Keeping you CapEx aligned with your company’s core KPIs ensures that you receive a direct return on investment that is in the best interests of the company. Using the same evaluation criteria across the company for your CapEx budget setting procedure will also give you meaningful, comparable data that allows you to quickly see what the best investments are going to be for your company.

More useful resources are available for download in our Robotics & Automation Resources Pack.

If manual palletising is one of your production throughput bottlenecks, you may wish to consider the Granta GA15 robotic palletiser.

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The Hidden Winner of Automation

You may have dedicated workers that are stacking pallets at a good speed, but however dedicated they are there is nearly always production time lost on the following:

  • moving pallets out to the storage area
  • wrapping pallets
  • completing paperwork
  • taking breaks for lunch or to visit the bathroom
  • stopping to have the odd quick chat, to the boss on his daily walk round, or to other colleagues
  • operators palletising slower than the production line can actually run working a little bit slower than the production line can actually run at full throttle

This may not sound much time, but when you add it up it is a lot more than most realise.

The hidden winner is this: simply installing a palletiser typically increases production throughput of the whole production line to at least 140%!

An automated palletiser system does not stop and always goes full speed, especially if you have automatic pallet feeding and an output buffer area for finished pallets. Granta have completed many palletiser installs and nearly all of these have improved production throughput by at least this amount, and often significantly more. Every time customers are surprised to find how much difference this hidden winner actually makes!

Many or even most companies justify automated palletisers on labour savings alone, but they are usually surprised by the hidden winner that brings significantly more benefit.

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Automated Palletising Guide for Milling & Grain Industry

Many people underestimate the benefits of automated palletising. This article gives you some information on the hidden wins, and what to consider when buying an automated palletising system.

Traditionally palletising of bags and sacks was done by hand. However, this has many drawbacks including production downtime due to staff breaks, and the high risk of repetitive strain injuries occurring. The subsequent implications of staff having to be off work for long periods of time due to repetitive strain injuries and the cost of any resulting claims can quickly add up. Palletising by hand can also limit throughput capacity and become a bottleneck in your production process.

 

The Hidden Winner

Most companies can justify automated palletising on labour savings alone, but they are usually surprised by the hidden winner that brings significantly more benefit.

The hidden winner is this: simply installing a palletiser typically increases production throughput of the whole production line to at least 140%!

You may have dedicated workers that are stacking pallets at a good speed, but however dedicated they are there is nearly always production time lost on the following:

  • moving pallets out to the storage area
  • wrapping pallets
  • completing paperwork
  • taking breaks for lunch or to visit the bathroom
  • stopping to have the odd quick chat
  • operators palletising slower than the production line can actually run

This may not sound much time, but when you add it up it is a lot more than most realise.

 

Where Do I Start?

There are many different automated palletising systems available on the market, so we have put together a few key points that you should consider before investing. This will ensure that when you do make your investment, the solution will be able to meet your current needs as well as being flexible enough to cope with any future changes in your requirements.

 

Futureproof Throughput Capacity

What throughput do you need to achieve currently? What throughput are you looking to achieve in the future? Not only do you need to be sure that the system can meet your current throughput requirements, but it is also important to ensure that it has the necessary capacity to enable you to expand your sales and increase your throughput in the future. The last thing you want is to increase your sales only to find your palletiser has become a bottleneck in your production process! Spend time to think about where your business is heading in the future and ensure you invest in a system that will meet your future demands, or is easily scalable to meet them.

 

Stack Neatness

Neatly stacked pallets are key to your product reaching its final destination in the best condition. They also make for safer storage, and easier container and lorry loading. With several different methods of automated pallet stacking available, it is important that you choose a method that creates the best stack for your product. There are many factors that affect how your bags will stack best such as how full the bag is, what type of product is in the bag, and how free flowing the material is within the bag. Several systems are available for shaping and flattening bags to ensure that they stack in the neatest possible way. Running a trial of your product on a palletising system before you commit to the capital expenditure is a very good way to determine what the best method is for palletising your product neatly.

 

Ease of Use

How easy is the palletising system to use? Can it quickly be reprogrammed to palletise different bag or box sizes? Can your staff reprogram it themselves? With some conventional palletising systems it can be very difficult to change the stacking pattern or bag placing positions without support from a specialist programmer. Therefore it is important to ensure that the system you choose has easy programming software as this will enable your staff to reprogram the palletiser quickly and easily. This saves you the cost of having to call out an expensive robot programmer to reprogram the system when you need to change a stack pattern or bag size. It is also important to choose a system that has automatic stack generation software so that you can simply choose which stacking pattern you wish to use without having to spend time planning. Having a system with easy programming software will also ensure that your palletising system is future proof against any changes of product size or pallet type.

 

Easy To Move/Re-site

Ensure that the system you choose can be easily moved. As your processes evolve over time, the last thing you want is to end up with a palletiser stuck in the wrong corner! There are modular palletising systems available; which means they can be quickly and easily re-situated and reconfigured to a different layout should the need arise. The modularity of these systems also allows you to adapt the palletising process over time by adding further processes at a later date such as pallet shrink wrapping, slip sheet feeding, automated pallet feeding, labelling etc.

 

Try Before You Buy

For your own peace of mind, make sure you have tried your product on a palletiser before you purchase it. Whilst palletising is a straightforward process, there are many factors that affect how neatly your products stack, and a trial is the best way to establish the best method. There are automation companies that will offer a free trial of your product on their palletiser before you purchase.

 

Integration With Existing Production Processes

Buying from a company that has experience in machinery integration is key when purchasing a palletising system. A company with this experience will ensure that your palletising process is linked to your production process in the most efficient and effective manner. A reputable automation company will complete a site visit at the quoting stage and will be able to offer advice, guidance and 3D CAD drawings showing how best to install the system. Depending on your production layout and throughput speeds, it may well be possible to install one robotic palletising system to palletise product off two or more production lines.

 

Calculating ROI on Investment

Typically the payback time for an automated palletising system is very quick as not only do you remove the manual labour element and associated costs, but production can also continue to run throughout break times; thereby enabling you to improve your production speed and throughput capacity. A free robotics and automation resource pack is available for download at www.granta-automation.co.uk/freepack. This pack includes an automation project payback calculator to help you determine your predicted return on investment based on production rates, shift times, HR costs, downtime, etc. Intangible benefits are also something to consider when working out your predicted return on investment as they can have a significant effect on the payback time of your project. An intangible benefits calculator is also included in this pack.

 

In Conclusion

As you can see, when chosen wisely, an automated palletising system will not only provide the immediate benefits of increased reliability and throughput, but will also service your future requirements. With changing market demands and the ever quickening pace of technology, it is important to ensure that the equipment you choose to invest in is flexible and adaptable enough to cope with these changes without the need for further significant investment.

One of the most adaptable and flexible palletising systems on the market is the Granta GA15 palletising system. It is fast and easy to program without the need for specialist programming skills. The easy programming software also includes automatic stack generation for an infinite variety of products, pallets and stack configurations. Having input the bag or box size you are palletising the optimum stack pattern is shown along with a variety of other stack patterns. All you have to do is simply select the stack pattern you require using the touch screen.

As the Granta GA15 palletising system is a modular system, it can also be simply and quickly reconfigured should your production requirements change. The modularity of the system also results in short lead times and a quick install time.

In summary, here is a quick checklist to use before purchasing an automated palletising system:

  • Can the system meet current and future throughput capacity requirements
  • Will the system stack my product neatly
  • Are staff able to program the system for different bag sizes/stack patterns
  • Can the system be moved/re-sited and reconfigured easily
  • Has a trial been run on the system
  • Can the system be effectively integrated with our current production process
  • Has the predicted ROI of the system been calculated including the hidden wins

If you would like to discuss this guide in more detail, or would like further information on the Granta GA15 Palletising system, then please do get in touch on 01223 499488 or helpline@granta-automation.co.uk.

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Robotic Palletising Guide

With a lot of the industry moving towards bigger and better kit, have you considered automating your palletising process? Palletisers are now simpler, more flexible and better value than ever before; with some systems such as the Granta GA15 series so easy to program that anyone who can use a computer is able to program it.

There are many different automated palletising options available on the market, so we have put together a few key points that you should consider before investing in an automated palletising solution.

Ease Of Use
How easy is the palletising system to use? Can it quickly be reprogrammed to palletise different bag or box sizes? Can your staff re-program it themselves? Be sure the system has easy programming software as this enables your staff to re-program the palletiser quickly and easily, saving the cost of having to call out an expensive robot programmer to reprogram it for you.

Easy To Move/Re-site
Ensure that the system can be easily moved. As your systems evolve over time, the last thing you want is to end up with a palletiser stuck in the wrong corner! There are palletising systems available that are modular, which can be quickly and easily re-situated should the need arise. The modularity of these systems also allows you to adapt the palletising process to suit your needs over time by adding further processes, such as pallet shrink wrapping, slipsheets, automated pallet feeding etc., at a later date should you require it. 

Try Before You Buy
For your own peace of mind, make sure you have tried your product on a palletiser before you purchase it. Whilst palletising is a straightforward process, there are many factors that affect how neatly your products stack, and a trial is the best way to establish the best method. There are automation companies that will offer a free trial of your product on their palletiser before you purchase.

ROI on Investment
Typically the payback time for an automated palletiser is very quick as not only do you remove the manual labour element, but production can also continue to run throughout break times, thereby enabling you to improve your production speed.

If you would like to discuss this guide in more detail, or would like further information on the Granta GA15 Palletising system, then please do get in touch on 01223 499488 or helpline@granta-automation.co.uk.

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Potato Palletiser

Do you palletise potatoes?

If so, the Granta GA15 palletising system is what you need.

https://www.granta-automation.co.uk/types-of-automation/robotic-palletising

Two key benefits this palletising system has for you:

– We offer a free trial so you can see how your product would work on the system.
– Easy to Use; if you can use a computer you can program this!

Improve your productivity, contact us to book your free trial.

01223 499488
helpline@granta-automation.co.uk

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Try Automated Robotic Palletising Of Your Product Before You Buy

Our free trial scheme has been developed to allow you to see how your product would work on the Granta palletising system before you commit to investing capital in the system.

Often one of the questions asked when introducing automated palletising into a production process is ‘How well will it work for my product?’ and this is a very fair question. Automated palletising works well for virtually all products, but we are very happy to prove this to you by demonstrating the palletiser handing your product before you commit to the capital outlay required.

There are many different factors that can influence the optimum method of palletising of your product; shape, size, regularity of shape, weight, texture, solidity, etc. Some products may need different types of gripper due to irregular shape, specific handling points on the product, etc. All of these factors have to be considered before the best method of palletising your product can be ascertained.

Although we are confident that automated palletising will work, we offer this try before you buy scheme to provide certainty around your investment and to give you peace of mind. Without a trial of your product on a palletiser before you commit to the capital expenditure, it is very difficult for you to be certain as to how well your product will palletise. Whilst you may be palletising bags, and there are multiple bag palletiser options available, there are also multiple factors that can affect how well the bags will stack. Some of the factors that will have an effect on how well a pallet is stacked include; how full the bag is, are the contents of the bag free flowing, are the bag contents uneven. Sometimes with particularly challenging shapes or types of product, how well your bags will palletise, and what modifications the gripper will need to enable your bags to palletise correctly, can only be determined by a trail.

As we realise the importance of trying your product on an automated palletiser before you buy, we have developed a try before you buy scheme that enables you to do this. You can either

  • Send us your product to try on a palletiser and we will send you videos of the trial so that you can see whether or not automated palletising is going to work for you.
  • Or, you can visit Granta to watch a trial of your product on a palletiser.

Both of these methods offer you a fool proof method of ensuring that your investment in robotic palletising is sound and will yield the necessary return on investment for you.

Contact us to book your free trial helpline@granta-automation.co.uk or 01223 499488.

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Plug and Play Entry Point Screening and Sanitiser Station

 

 

The Sense & Sanitise Station is a plug and play entry point screening and sanitiser dispensing system that has been developed in response to the current crisis.

It is a two hand sanitiser unit with a calibrated infra red temperature monitoring sensor. The sensor monitors the persons forehead temperature, dispenses sanitiser and then displays a customisable enter/no entry read out based on the persons temperature.

This system allows you to minimise risk by ensuring that everyone has hand sanitiser on both hands and has been temperature screened before entry. The system can be used in three ways;

  1. As a stand-alone unit by the entrance doors, which people are requested to use before entering.
  2. Linked to a physical gate or door, which only opens once sanitiser has been applied and the temperature reading is ok.
  3. Linked to a sensor system that sounds a warning tone if someone passes without using the unit or tries to pass after receiving a No Entry reading.

Browse our Sense & Sanitise website for more information or contact us on 01223 499477.

We look forward to hearing from you!

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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. https://www.granta-automation.co.uk/news/the-key-to-prosperity-and-better-standards-of-living/

 

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 helpline@granta-automation.co.uk.

 

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