Integrators Faced With Complex Fulfillment Projects: Here's How Packaging Partners Can Help
Smart suppliers can help integrators with fulfillment challenges, offering reliability, affordability, and efficiency gains great enough to create a strong return on investment.
Between increased order volume, worker shortages, and a growing need for technology, the modern distribution center faces a different crisis almost every day.
- This makes integrators critical to fulfillment success — but it also makes their jobs more difficult than ever before.
- An entire segment of logistics operations is ready to accept automation, provided that the automation accomplishes what customers want: reliability, reasonable costs, and speed or efficiency gains great enough to create strong return on investment.
- The Pregis Sharp® system is positioned to fit into the biggest existing opportunity for integrators: end-of-line packaging.
Distribution operations are getting more complex. Between increased order volume, worker shortages, and a growing need for technology, the modern distribution center faces a different crisis almost every day. This makes integrators critical to fulfillment success — but it also makes their jobs more difficult than ever before.
The Slow Rise of Warehouse Automation
When you think of robots, you probably don’t think of warehouse and distribution centers (DCs). However, these vital facilities are the drivers of frequent advancements in robotics, often leading the industry in packaging and distribution technologies.
But, for all of the advances in robotics and artificial intelligence, a standard DC still has more in common with a traditional warehouse than with a scene from the future. Most processes are carried out by hand by human employees. Where automation is adopted, it tends to be of the co-bot variety — small, task-oriented robots that work under the control of and in tandem with people. This is especially true in end-of-line packaging.
End-of-line presents some unique challenges: Items typically have unique profiles, requiring vastly different packaging materials based on the type of product, the shipping method, and even the geographic destination. Therefore, many fulfillment centers choose to automate upstream and downstream while leaving end-of-line for manual operation.
This creates tremendous opportunities for integrators. An entire segment of logistics operations is wide open and ready to accept automation, provided that the automation accomplishes what customers want: reliability above all else, reasonable costs, the ability to reallocate precious labor, and speed or efficiency gains great enough to create a strong return on investment.
Staying Sharp With Pregis
When it comes to end-of-line packaging, few names carry the weight of Pregis Sharp, one of Pregis’ most groundbreaking packaging solutions. Understanding how a strategic packaging partner helps integrators succeed in complex projects makes it clear why.
These packaging systems, including the Max and SX bagging machines, can quickly and neatly package nearly any product into Sharp poly bags. They are compatible with both single-machine operations and large manufacturing facilities, reducing costs and improving productivity through easily-operated inline packaging.
Pregis’ Applications Engineering team continues to help integrators plan, implement, and support the integration of Sharp machines into working distribution centers. The machines themselves are designed to compliment DCs and are built to last and provide immediate and long-term benefits — such as increasing throughput by up to 10x for some Sharp bagging systems.
The Sharp system is positioned to fit into the biggest existing opportunity for integrators: end-of-line packaging. Sharp bagging machines can be integrated with ease into existing end-of-line operations including conveyors, infeeds, or robotics and can play a key role in a fully-automated packaging facility.
Where Strategic Packaging Partners Come In
Incorporating automation into the end-of-line packaging process might be a tremendous opportunity, but only if it overcomes customer challenges. For many companies, these challenges also include ensuring any new automation fits easily into existing processes. This is where strategic packaging partners are critical.
A strategic packaging partner is an equipment supplier who:
- Works closely with integrators and customers. A strategic packaging partner works closely to make sure the solution they build works to solve the end-user’s problem — and then continues to work closely to provide support and troubleshooting.
- Has strong engineering. A strategic packaging partner lets the engineers designing the equipment lead, not the sales and marketing teams. Breakdowns in end-of-line packaging can back up an entire warehouse, so solutions need to be carefully designed and built with reliability and function in mind.
- Understands the process. Most DCs use multiple manufacturers for their automation needs, since most manufacturers specialize in one specific piece of the packaging process. A strategic packaging partner understands this, knowing where they fit in and how they can best work with the machinery upstream and downstream of their specialization.
- Designs for optimization, not disruption. No one wants disruption in a warehouse. Since reliability is so critical to the packaging process, strategic packaging partners add value and features without scrambling everything all at once. Instead of designing for a “dream DC,” strategic packaging partners know how automation is currently used and design around that.
Our experience working with DCs across industries and regions makes our team an invaluable resource for solutions to end-user problems. Not to mention, our history and reputation are strong selling points for winning end-user trust.