Considering all the advantages automation provides, one might be surprised just how many companies still use manual labor to accomplish feats machines could perform more efficiently, economically and even safely.
Any of the legion of companies utilizing corrugated boxes in their output immediately can realize the benefits of switching from man to machine in assembling these cubic and rectangular units.
First, consider the human factor. Some companies currently are using men and women to manually tape together corrugated boxes and yield an output as high as 4,000 to 5,000 packages daily. In the process, employees risk repetitive-stress injuries capable of financially impacting a company. Other companies require crews arrive at their facilities during the early-morning hours simply to assemble boxes so the containers are ready to be filled by the regular-shift crews. Just one employee calling in sick during this crucial first stage of the process can adversely affect the day's entire production.
By contrast, one person using a case sealer can process in five minutes what someone using a hand taper achieves in 30 minutes. This rapidity translates down the line, with automation equating to more product being put out on the market. For the time-sensitive food industry, in particular, where products carry consumer-readable dates, "faster" translates to "fresher," a hallmark of quality edibles.
In terms of supply costs, automation also trounces the old-fashioned methods. A human operator hand-sealing boxes uses more tape than a machine. In a situation in which a 12-inch box is sealed with a 17-inch strip, the differences are dramatic. An automated sealer uses a single 1,500-yard roll tape to yield an output of 3,176 boxes. By comparison, a hand-taping operation would utilize a 220-yard roll tape and yield only 110 sealed boxes. That equates to 6,352 yards of tape to achieve the same result as the machine.
A machine applies a single tape strip across a box or tapes L-shaped strips on box ends. 1,500-yard tape rolls cost less per meter than 220-yard rolls. Also, less waste occurs when a roll is nearly empty as replacements using 1,500-yard rolls are less frequent than with 220-yard rolls.
Automation also allows for on-the-spot customization. For example, a machine can code directly on a box. The benefits are two-fold: the technique is cheaper to accomplish and reduces inventory since using labels or pre-printed boxes can prove expensive by taking up valuable warehouse space. Direct-coding also replaces labor-intensive methods such as stencils.
Plus, machine-assembled boxes are more securely sealed, significantly reducing costly product damage resulting from sloppily assembled units.
Tape machines also boast another feature: they're a clean machine. With hot glue, maintenance and clean-up costs are a messy part of the equation. Low-maintenance tape machines, on the other hand, require no clean-up. Also, consider that a 1,500-yard tape roll (yielding 3,176 sealed boxes) costs roughly $12 vs. the equivalent 21 lbs. of glue needed for the same job, which, at roughly $1.25 per pound, costs $26.25. The tape machine's simplicity and reliability drastically cut downtime, with parts readily available and the mechanism as simple as "plug in and switch on, " necessitating minimal training.
From an aesthetic point of view, automation provides a cleaner and neater method of box-sealing, providing your customers with a more professional-looking product. For company leaders who believe switching over from manpower to mechanization is too formidable a task, consider that even small-output companies can realize a significant ROI.
The bottom line is: Greater throughput equals greater value. Automation can prove an essential element in achieving that goal.