What you need to know to figure out what kinds of automation are best for your particular packaging-related processes.

You can barely take two steps at any warehousing-related conference without seeing or hearing about robotics and automation. The future of distribution, fulfillment, and warehousing is automation – and the future is now. The thing is, how do you know what’s right for your organization? Exactly which robotics and automation technologies do you need?

Which Robotics and Automated Packaging Technologies Do You Need?

When it comes to packaging, there are clear choices when it comes to automation and robotics.

Box First and Box Last Automation

With box first automation, individual order items are scanned and sized as part of the storage process. As these items are picked for orders, they are automatically paired with a right-sized box based on the combined dimensions of all items in a single order.

While the term box last sounds like it’s the opposite, it’s actually fairly similar to box first. With box last automation, a right-sized box is created closer to the end of the conveyance process, which favors an environment in which order contents may vary greatly and single-item orders are less commonplace.

On-Demand Packaging Automation

With on-demand packaging automation, right-sized boxes are created as needed rather than matched from a selection of various-sized boxes. This is particularly desirable when order shapes are unusual or vary greatly. This type of packaging automation not only speeds up throughput efficiency, but also can greatly reduce packaging costs and waste.

Hybrid and Cobot Automation

In some cases, efficiencies can be gained through a hybrid automation solution that utilizes collaborative robots – or cobots – or other automation technology in conjunction  with human employees. An example would be the conveyance of an item or order along with a right-sized box to a worker to complete the packing and shipping process.

Variable-Length Bagging Machines

Of course, it’s not always about boxes. For items of varying lengths, automated variable-length bagging machines can adjust the size of a bag to match the product dimensions precisely, thus minimizing excess packaging material in the bag equivalent to a right-sized box.

Smart Labeling and Printing

And whether you are shipping bags or boxes of various sizes, automated labeling systems equipped with smart technologies can dynamically adjust label sizes and placement based on product dimensions in order to ensure that labeling is accurate and, you guessed it, right-sized.

Your Next Step

Packaging may be the last thing you think about automating – but it shouldn’t be. As you seek the right packaging robotics and automation for your operation, keep in mind that right-sized, optimized packaging is key to maintaining operational efficiency and ensuring a better bottom line. Packaging automation is not a universal cure, but rather a tailored and scalable solution crafted to decrease wasted materials, reduce expenses, enhance warehouse operations, and promote a customer-facing sustainability.

Packaging Industry Statistics from Packaging Distributors of America, forecasts the market growing in an aggressive rate:

  • The Global Packaging Market is expected to register a CAGR of 3.94% during the forecast period of 2022-2027. The global packaging business has experienced consistent growth over the last decade due to substrate choice changes, expansion of new markets, and changing ownership dynamics.
  • The Packaging Industry in the United States was valued at USD 184.65 Billion in 2021, and it is expected to reach USD 218.12 Billion by 2027.
  • The flexible packaging market is forecasted to grow by $54.42 bn during 2022-2027, accelerating at a CAGR of 4.82% during the forecast period.
  • The global sustainable packaging market is expected to expand at a CAGR of 8.5% during the forecast period of 2023 to 2031.

Don’t be left behind: Now is the time to investigate how robotics, automation, and AI-driven systems can optimize your operations to prepare for future demand. Contact our team today.