How Carton Handling equipment can increase business resilience by Antalis

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The past few years have presented many challenges for packaging operations across the UK. Here, Head of Automation & Systems at Antalis Packaging, Stuart Bates, shares how the Antalis Packaging team has helped customers to tackle the issues and increase resilience.

It’s been a tough few years for businesses in all industries and sectors, and the economic outlook remains challenging. For packaging and third-party logistics operations, the difficulties have been particularly intense as they have had to navigate labour shortages, address sustainability, manage costs and continue to deliver great customer experience – all against a backdrop of increased demand.

Stuart explains that it is labour shortages that have hit the hardest and have tested the resilience of even the toughest of businesses: “From drivers to warehouse staff, the repercussions of labour shortages over the last three years have been felt throughout the supply chain. It’s left end-customers, whether B2B or B2C, waiting unduly long periods of time for orders.” The impact of this was highlighted in a recent survey by Wincanton, which found that “76% of the UK’s retail and eCommerce business leaders believe shortage of labour in the supply chain has negatively affected their ability to serve customers.” The survey also discovered that while 99% of the same businesses believe that “improving supply chain resilience is ‘essential’ to growth”, 15% said that they “do not currently have a resilient supply chain.”

The challenge is even greater for high-volume operations reliant on manual labour. “It’s not uncommon for businesses to struggle to recruit labour during peak”, says Stuart, “however, this has now become a year-round issue. The key is to improve efficiency, so orders are not only packed quickly and effectively, despite a reduced workforce, but so delivery loads are maximised too. The most effective way of achieving these goals is with carton handling equipment.”

Carton handling equipment in a high-volume operation can make a significant difference, such as reducing reliance on labour or freeing staff to focus on other tasks; using fewer materials, which helps to cut environmental impact and costs; and improving quality and consistency of carton erection; all of which contribute to a fast return on investment. Options to consider include, case erectors, case sealers and automated corrugated void reduction systems.

By installing an automated corrugated void reduction system that creates right-sized packaging on demand, one Antalis customer was able to achieve:

  • an increase in packing capability from 120 to 700 boxes per hour
  • a 50% reduction in packaging materials
  • a 67% reduction in labour costs
  • 100 fewer pallet locations

The flexibility the system provided meant they were more readily able to adapt to the peaks and troughs in demand while also being insulated, to an extent, from the challenges in the supply chain.

Stuart acknowledges that investing in machinery is a big decision but advises that finding a knowledgeable machinery partner that is willing to take time to understand the business and the issues it is facing is key to making sure any decision made is the right one: “It will ultimately come down to the type and quantity of products being packed and the volume of throughput; however, a good packaging machinery partner will also assess the operation flow to identify any bottlenecks before recommending the best machinery to deliver optimum results. The result will be a more efficient packaging operation resilient to the ups and downs of the market.”

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