Packaging products are integral to the globalized economy that has driven incredible growth in consumer standards of living. The US packaging industry alone has produced more than 82.2 million tons of packaging in 2018.
With so much demand to fill, many packaging manufacturers are interested in learning how to improve production efficiency within their factories.
Software for the packaging industry can provide the real-time production data needed to improve operational efficiency in packaging manufacturing environments. This can be immensely effective in driving tangible improvements that address general production concerns as well as specific issues that packaging manufacturers face, such as heightened time sensitivity, increased maintenance needs, and external pressures on quality control.
What Does Production Inefficiency Look Like?
Production inefficiencies are a daily reality in most manufacturing facilities. Manufacturers can look to the three components of Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE), a leading metric for measuring production efficiency, to gain a better understanding of what these inefficiencies look like in a real-world context.
The first factor in OEE measurement is availability, or the amount of time that machines spend running during a typical shift. Production constantly starts and stops for many reasons, including:
- Lack of machine availability
- Lack of materials
- Lack of staff
- Machine breakdowns
- Planned and unplanned maintenance
- Accidents on the floor
Inefficiency is also sometimes expressed as reduced speed, which affects the performance component of the OEE score. Slowdowns happen due to problems such as:
- Old or poorly maintained equipment
- An inefficient workflow
- Production startups and shutdowns
- Operator inexperience
The final OEE factor is quality, or how many products meet prescribed quality control standards. Some common quality problems include:
- High scrap rates
- High materials waste
- Low first-pass yield
Addressing problems in any of these areas can noticeably increase production efficiency. The more problems you work on, the greater this effect will be.
However, an ideal factory monitoring solution must account for the fact that factory conditions are constantly in flux. A single fixed approach that does not adapt to real-world changes will never succeed in driving the incredible improvements that are possible with a dynamic, real-time system. The ability to continually survey the state of the factory floor and observe any problems developing in real-time is key to securing real efficiency gains in the packaging industry.
Increasing Efficiency for Better Outcomes in Packaging
Every manufacturing sector has different priorities when it comes to production efficiency. While all efficiency gains are welcome in any factory context, certain refinements are more valuable to packaging manufacturers than others.
Using packaging manufacturing software with real-time manufacturing data collection can help packaging manufacturers significantly improve their ability to manage the challenges they face every day. These solutions enhance manufacturers’ ability to capitalize on the data their own factories generate, driving a continual stream of contextually relevant insights that helps them speed up their manufacturing processes, prevent production delays, and maintain high levels of consistency throughout the entire production run.
Production Agility and Scheduling
Due to packaging’s role as a component of other manufacturers’ production processes, the packaging industry is uniquely sensitive to time constraints. Any delay in production can have rippling effects throughout the supply chain, causing production delays for customers and lowering overall customer satisfaction.
With real-time production efficiency software, managers enjoy full visibility into all aspects of production, including materials use, machine availability, human resources allocation, and more. Guided by automatically generated insights from within the system, managers can shift the plant’s resources around to best accommodate current production needs. This ensures that the plant is always working toward your most critical objectives, minimizing the impact of a schedule slip.
Having a single, reliable source of production data available to all personnel also assists in coordinating production across teams. Since data aggregated by RtOI solutions is stored on a machine basis, it is easy for all team members to quickly understand the situation they are facing and respond in a contextually appropriate way. With more hands to pitch in and more expertise to tap into, production bottlenecks can be overcome more quickly, and orders can be completed within their initial projected time frames.
Production Speed and Maintenance Needs
In general, packaging orders are somewhat of a contradiction: they are extremely large, but they also have very small profit margins. This makes it important for facilities to process as many orders as possible during each production day, and to minimize waste during the production process, driving maximum profitability in this competitive industry.
With thousands or even millions of products heading off the line in each production run, production speed is key to fulfilling orders on time. RtOI software and automated workflows enable managers to stay one step ahead of routine production needs, shortening reaction times to events and ensuring preventable setbacks do not occur, and production runs with far fewer interruptions.
Streamlining production in this way not only allows a facility to accommodate more orders at once but also makes it easier to recover from unavoidable setbacks. If an event takes place, the relevant stakeholders are immediately alerted and provided with contextually relevant insight into the event, shortening the time it takes to understand the problem and establish a course of action to correct it.
Consistency and Quality Control
Consistent packaging is important to customers for both branding and logistical reasons. Consistent packaging helps businesses project a professional image that fosters brand recognition and consumer trust.
Customers in industries such as food manufacturing also rely on consistent packages to accurately measure and control food giveaway. There may even be food safety implications for certain defects if they remained unnoticed until the final products made it onto store shelves.
Real-time Operational Intelligence solutions allow manufacturers to augment their human workforce with smart quality control tools. In addition to giving managers the ability to continuously monitor key quality control metrics from a centralized remote dashboard, this software can also be used to set customized QC alerts based on established performance parameters.
This function can help catch burgeoning quality control problems, like a sudden spike in your defect rate, and contain them before they have a chance to grow. It also allows factories to implement statistical process control and other useful approaches to make permanent systematic changes in the way they handle QC within their organization.
Plug-In for Greater Production Efficiency in Packaging
Packaging manufacturers stand to reap great rewards from tracking production efficiency in their factories. RtOI software is indispensable to this process, but where can you find a solution that meets your factory’s specific needs?
Matics’ RtOI software gives you a centralized data platform with which to monitor and manage all your production processes on a moment-to-moment basis.
Our system provides manufacturers with:
- Real-time data feeds from all available sources within your factory.
- AI-guided insights to drive continual optimizations across all production processes.
- Programmable alerts based on pre-set triggers to draw attention to pressing issues before they can impact production.
- Team-wide, factory-wide, and individual chat channels to facilitate communication on the factory floor.
Our plug-and-play solution can help you optimize your packaging facility’s operations in as little as a few weeks. Contact us today to book a demo of our product and witness the power of real-time data for yourself.