It is not just about the number of people on the line. It is about optimising the number of packs per minute achievable with the minimum number of people.
Although Brillopak manufactures packaging machines and palletisers, we recognise that for some businesses full automation is not an option. Reasons can include; the need for visual QA; the wide range of products run down a line; and a lack of capital to invest.
However, in almost every case, these manual lines really need to be efficient in order to remain competitive.
And that is why we built what is now called the Brillopak C130 Semi-automatic packing station.
I visit many sites during the course of the year and used to find the same complaints from packhouse managers:
“My machines say the line is producing more than it is”. (I rattled on about that one a couple of weeks ago)
“The lazy Susans mean that people can get distracted and not pack and then, when the product builds up, they stop the line to clear the backlog”.
“The finished product gets damaged as it bumps around over conveyors and around turntables”.
These sorts of issues can result in a lower quality of product being packed by more people than necessary. People who could be deployed elsewhere in the business.
Whilst we are all taught that accumulation is a good thing, and of course generally it is, there are times when it can actually have a negative impact on efficiency.
I would argue that round tables are the perfect example of this.
So, let’s say we put an operator onto a packstation which is ergomonically designed to be comfortable in reach and position. We feed this operator product at the right height in the right orientation for them to pack at the optimum speed. This means that they can achieve higher speeds and comfortably keep up. So why offer distractions? Now we have removed the potential for accumulation (distraction), the operator is able to pack at the fastest consistent speed.
With one operator focussed on packing, a second operator is meanwhile tasked with delivering crates to the line. The crates are accumulated because that enables the second operator to potentially load crates and palletise to 2 lines at a time. The crates appear in the same orientation as the product meaning that the first operator does not have to twist and turn, only pack was is presented in front of them.
Typically this should increase actual products packed per shift, potentially reducing the total work hours required by the entire line, reducing the labour requirement and reducing quality issues.
And this is achieved because you are now in control of the speed of your line to the end of the line.