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How to Find Efficiencies in Automotive Packaging When Labor Markets Are Tight

Automotive markets are under pressure due to supply constraints and labor shortages. Efficient Pregis packaging solutions can help offset some of those costs.

Executive summary:

  • Inventory crunch for auto dealers has created a volatile market where dealerships are unable to keep up with consumer demand.
  • Other than external factors like the microchip shortage, much of this situation has been caused by labor shortages, which are prevalent in the manufacturing sector.
  • Auto manufacturers are looking for ways to offset this loss in productivity and need all the help they can get to increase production efficiency in order to capitalize on the sales they are able to make.
  • One area of possible improvement is increased automation in shipping. With fewer workers available, Pregis’ Sharp Polybags can be packed with less downtime and manpower needed.
  • Pregis solutions can be adapted to existing factory floors, meaning productivity can be added without increased disruption/unnecessary costs.

The automotive industry is under pressure. Labor shortages have hit U.S. manufacturing hard, leaving almost 500,000 open jobs with no indication of when the trend will reverse. Even worse, a microchip shortage has left auto inventories scrambling.

This comes at a time when consumers happen to be hungry for new cars. After a strong start to the year, retail sales of new vehicles were up by 12.4 percent in June over the same period in 2020, outpacing the pre-COVID numbers recorded in 2019 by 2.3 percent. However, by September, retail sales for new vehicles had decreased by 24.8 percent year-over-year and by 19.8 percent compared to the same period in 2019.

This isn’t because consumers have suddenly decided to stop buying cars. Automakers simply can’t produce new vehicles to keep up with demand. When new vehicles arrived on car lots in August 2021, 49 percent of them were purchased within ten days, up from 26 percent in 2019 according to J.D. Power.


Looking Sharp

As automakers grapple with these conditions, one solution has emerged as an alternative to expensive hiring incentives, hiring untrained workers, or simply waiting it out: improving efficiency on the factory floor.

Packaging automation, such as Pregis’ Sharp bagging systems, can help automotive manufacturers ensure the experienced workers they do have can focus on other, impactful tasks. A properly integrated Sharp Poly Bag packaging system manned by one operator can replace approximately four to six workers doing the same task, giving operations managers the ability to reallocate their trained laborers to areas that require more manpower.

These bagging machines require infrequent maintenance and are intuitive enough that untrained workers can be easily integrated into packaging automation, reducing downtime by limiting expensive maintenance visits and workplace accidents.


Shifting From Manual to Automatic Packaging

Packaging automation can increase throughput and volume while reducing labor needs, a desperately needed fix in the automotive industry. Plus, Pregis’ low-profile, smaller footprint solution saves space for other production elements.

In a manual packaging environment, a factory floor might be filled with multiple machines to bag a product, seal it, and print packaging labels. Sharp can accomplish this with one machine in a much smaller space. Manufacturers won’t have to rearrange their entire factory floors to move to automated packing either. Engineers conducting Pregis Integration Services are trained to understand exactly how to integrate packaging equipment and solutions without disrupting the flow of production.

Pregis first conducts an on-site evaluation to determine where packaging solutions like Sharp will work best and increase throughput. Due to its ability to integrate easily with conveyors, infeeds, and robotics, Sharp bagging systems and other Pregis packaging solutions can find a home just about anywhere.


Finding Efficiency in Times of Shortage

More efficient packaging isn’t only viable for new car manufacturing. With an exploding aftermarket sector powered by a renewed interest in more readily available used cars, Pregis on-demand packaging solutions like the Easypack Packmaster Pro can help original equipment manufacturers and aftermarket retailers meet demand with efficiency.

For direct-to-consumer part deliveries, solutions like Easypack and the AirSpeed Ascent — which securely protects packed products with inflated Hybrid Cushioning — improve customer satisfaction, eliminate purchasing regret, and deliver unboxing experiences that leave lasting impressions.

Labor and inventory shortages are market-wide afflictions that aren’t easily predictable, meaning competitors are likely facing the exact same conditions and finding answers to the exact same questions. Investments in efficient, automated packaging and shipping solutions may decide who can make it to the other side unscathed.

Take a look at Pregis’ automotive packaging solutions today. Along with the solutions discussed above, you can explore additional products such as Pregis’ temporary protective PolyMask films on our website. Contact a sales representative for more information on how Pregis packaging can work for you.