Consumer Packaging Operations Improvement
Reduces Labor by Over 60%
A major manufacturer of personal care products needed to increase throughput and flexibility, and reduce labor costs associated with its packaging operations in order to improve customer service and price positioning. The casing and palletizing operations were determined to be costly, labor intensive, and fraught with bottlenecks. Additionally, the complex mix of products, sizes, and counts presented extraordinary challenges. Whatever solution developed had to be incorporated without jeopardizing customer service commitments and minimizing the need to build above-average inventory levels.
The services of Integrated Project Management Company, Inc. (IPM) were sought to first characterize the existing operations, determining the various products, put-ups, configurations, etc. required of the casing and palletizing operations in order to satisfy current and anticipated marketing requirements. This information was entered into a database for easy review, manipulation, and integration with vendor simulation systems. Next, IPM identified the specific inefficiencies and quantified the related costs. This completed, IPM facilitated the development of considerations for the design of an automated casing and palletizing operation using its Requirements Based Activity© process; this was accomplished through the core project team consisting of both client and IPM personnel. The considerations were combined with technical requirements to establish specifications that were incorporated into a Request for Proposal (RFP).
The RFP was submitted to several pre-qualified system providers. Proposals were assessed using IPM’s Weighted Average Value Analysis (WAVA). Based on the WAVA results, IPM submitted a recommendation, a detailed return on investment analysis (ROI), and preliminary timeline for the project. Upon acceptance of the recommendation by plant management, IPM prepared a capital appropriation request.
Because of cash flow constraints, the project was delayed for approximately 18 months; however, the project was ultimately approved. Twelve manufacturing lines were retrofitted with new case packers and individual robotic palletizers. The personnel requirement was reduced by two per line, 24 per shift, for a total of 72. Additional savings were generated as a function of line speed increases made possible through the elimination of bottlenecks caused by operator intervention. Additional benefits included the following:
- Increased flexibility to change pallet patterns and case sizes
- Ability to generate reports of cases and put-up codes in real time
- Flexibility to accommodate future AGV and stretch-wrapping equipment
- Ability to detect, track, and reject quality defects