Equipment Planning 101 – Entry Level to Full Automation

Time ticks on and the power of technology continues to grow. Whether you look at programs to increase computer work productivity or in our case, packaging line automation it is incredible to see the innovation out there continue to snowball. As a packaging equipment distributor we get an inside look across industries and company sizes which gives us a unique perspective whether you are a company of 10 or a company of 5,000+. Solution-driven options will always begin with the three big questions:

What are your goals, what is your budget, and what is your timeline?

For large companies they can’t survive without it, but for smaller companies or companies that see growth year over year there might be a bit of apprehension: Are we big enough to take this leap? Is this cost ACTUALLY going to positively impact our bottom line? Will orders continue to sustain this decision? These questions are beyond fair and we are here to answer every question possible to get you into the right decision for you. For large companies you might be asking can Colony handle large-scale equipment and projects? The answer is yes and we have case studies and references plus 60 years in the industry to prove it.

Let’s dive into what those above mentioned questions might look like depending on smaller installations to fully automatic packaging lines. We pride ourselves in meeting companies where they are and proving out the best ROI scenarios possible based off these three main components.

1. What are your goals:

This can be as simple as worker efficiency to fully changing or the creation of a packaging line. Additional goals we often see take into account safety considerations, increased ergonomics, and personnel turnover.  Ranking your priorities can be similar to car shopping – which aspects are the most important and attainable within the next question – what is your budget.

2. What is your budget:

This question oftentimes is less about a hard cost and more about the ROI that is needed to justify the cost. For instance for case sealers 50-100 uniform cases a day can see a good ROI within 1-3 months. An entry level stretch wrapper only takes about 10 pallets a shift to realize a sufficient ROI. Why? Because at the very basis of automation time and material cost always decreases when automation is used correctly. When considering both we find customers come out happier and see greater value in the overall solution. So, what does this look like for entry level to fully automatic case sealers:

Case Sealer Entry Level Fully Automatic
Cost Starting around $5,000 depending on model, options, and brand Starting around $30,000 depending on model, options, and brand
Efficiency Generally a tool to assist a current packer by replacing hand taping for uniform cartons for either the top, bottom, or both seals. Will allow a packer to shift further down the pack line completely. Machine can work with multiple box configurations, is database driven, and seals the top and bottom of the box.
ROI Usually instant or within 1-2 months. ROI driven by cases per day metric and tape usage. These units are meant to speed up production and reduce employee fatigue while increasing physical ergonomics of case sealing at a very reasonable cost per package. The largest area of ROI is on tape savings due to more uniform tape usage per carton being sealed. Dependent on the robustness of the machine but generally within 3-12 months ROI will be fully met. Fully automatic options will decrease payroll expenditures, risk of injury, tape costs, and increase productivity immensely. These metrics will be important for larger outfits where there is a lack of downtime for employees and pack line efficiency is the main barrier of getting product out the door.

3. What is your timeline:

Considering your timeline will often be a combination of business acquisition goals and  actual time. Knowing this information can give us a perspective on solutions that will or won’t work based on lead time alone. Plus, the longer the timeline the greater the opportunity for brainstorming into the solution that will work for you. How does this look for entry level to fully automatic? For entry level machines we’ll see companies who have already gone through this thought process and know the time is right. For fully automatic it may take a year or more to plan a transition or it could be a very quick production line addition. In either case it is good to get the conversation started earlier in case of customization, production lead time, and any financing concerns.

Speaking of financing – we have great options that can work for your company. We know cash flow continues to tighten and that is why we work with customers on a customized level when growing your business depends on investing in equipment. Our management team is happy to present options to your company’s accounting department to make sure operations and accounting are in agreement with the best step moving forward.

Putting it all together: Goals – Budget – Timeline

We are here to help you navigate these big questions by giving you the best industry knowledge and ROI calculations possible. We match that with valuable financial options to make sure you are able to get to that next level of automation and business growth.

Ready to jump into automation? Call us and ask for Equipment Sales – we have plenty of demo equipment on the floor and industry experience to push your project across the finish line.