Technological innovations have proven to be a boon for the packaging industry; and now with automation trends taking control, there is no looking back for the players in the packaging industry. These automation trends have made packaging an efficient and less time-consuming task.
Automation & Packaging Industry
Like many other industries, the packaging sector constantly adapts to market requirements. Changes are being influenced by factors such as regulation, skills shortages and digital transformation. To turn these challenges into opportunities, innovative companies are increasingly relying on solutions such as human-robot collaboration and the use of artificial intelligence to manage intensive data processing.
Robotics are rapidly proliferating in the packaging industry. Robotic arms are able to sort and pack items into a variety of boxes, never getting tired or complaining of health problems. Robot arms provide flexibility since you can swap out gripping systems and reprogram them as the process changes. There are mobile robotic platforms that navigate warehouses at will, while autonomous robots can navigate the warehouse and deliver items as required.
All of this depends on advanced sensors, computer vision, and advanced intelligence from control systems to robots. This is why many online retailers still use human pickers along with robots. Humans remain more efficient for small, short, and one of a kind runs, and they can be used for tasks that aren’t yet automated.
Packaging is evolving for a number of reasons. Price pressure drives businesses to combine primary and secondary packaging and choose to package made in small lots so they don’t sink money into materials they don’t need or have to store. Packaging is being designed so that robots can pick and place a product in its protective package. Robot packaging systems are designed to be accurate and precise, but this doesn’t rule out design elements in the packaging to make this process easier and faster. For example, while robots can pack a case, there must be sufficient clearance for robotic components.
Another shift enabled by robotics is the abandonment of corrugated boxes in favor of Gaylord pallets. These solid, stable containers reduce a business’ carbon footprint since the Gaylord pallet can be reused endlessly.
A game-changer for its ability to provide a quick way to test products and packaging before they go into full-scale production, 3D printing has more recently played a pivotal role in scaling packaging to new levels of customization and creativity. 3D printing works by squirting molten plastic on to a base and gradually building up a design by layers. For this reason, it is also known as additive manufacturing.
Space saving has been one of the key automation trends in the packaging industry. Cabinet free machines not only assist in saving space but also helps reduce machine footprint.
End-to-end Digital Engineering
With the help of automation, most of the processes involved in the packaging industry have been digitized. The tasks that had to be carried out manually in the industry can now be done with higher accuracy with the help of automation. End-to-end digital engineering also helps identify errors in the processes and can be rectified immediately.
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