Packaging automation is an investment in your product and your business. Beyond protecting and showcasing your product, packaging machinery can have a significant impact on your operations’ efficiency, speed to market, labor costs and more.
Given the stakes, selecting the right packaging automation partner to assist you with selection, installation, training, and maintenance is as critical as identifying the right equipment for your application. Whether you are considering packaging automation for the first time, expanding your packaging capabilities, or making an upgrade, the following even 8 considerations will help you identify the best packaging equipment partner for your operation and needs.
1. Objectivity and Selection
Your product and your business are unique. The equipment supplier you choose should take time to understand your objectives and your process. If you have other automation in place, they should offer you a line layout analysis to confirm expected productivity enhancements, or to help you anticipate any potential packaging line changes that could impact your efficiency and labor needs.
While equipment manufacturers can excel in a specific type of equipment they manufacture, a packaging equipment distributor with relationships with a broad range of best-in-class manufacturers brings a broader perspective. Access to a variety of equipment options ensures you will benefit from both selection and objectivity to help you select the exact solution to address your needs. The supplier should also have working experience with how various technologies, and equipment types from different manufacturers work together. This provides a perspectives that results in the optimum package for your application.
A warranty is a manufacturer’s written guarantee that details what you should expect in terms of equipment condition and their responsibility should there be an issue with the equipment’s quality or performance. The best packaging equipment supplier will work with you to ensure you have maximum protection against equipment or parts failures early on in your equipment ownership, and work alongside you to hold manufacturers accountable for following through should you experience a problem.
Uptime is critical to productivity, profitability and customer satisfaction. Opt for a packaging equipment partner who can provide you with confidence that they will respond when you need them, not just when their regular visit to your area is scheduled. Keep in mind the service technician’s travel is typically added to your service invoice. Local technical service can speed availability, and shrink large travel and lodging bills.
The equipment supplier you select should invest in certifying their technicians through training on-site or at their manufacturing partners’ facilities to ensure their knowledge and skill remains sharp, and current. Ask about their training regime, what they do to maintain their certification, and how they stay abreast innovations.
Confirm you will have access to a dedicated, fully staffed team of certified, factory-trained technicians that can handle all of your packaging equipment service needs regardless of manufacturer. This will eliminate the need to manage multiple service teams to take care of the breadth of your packaging equipment needs. In addition to reliable service, when you have a single point of contact for your equipment service, your team and that of the equipment supplier build relationships and familiarity that can lead to improvements across your packaging lines.
Although repairs are best accomplished in person – there are times this isn’t possible. Make certain the supplier you select has the ability to provide service remotely through the phone or video-conferencing technology.
Enquire about the strength of the relationship between the packaging equipment supplier and manufacturers they represent. The quality and strength of that relationship can yield benefits when unique parts, not on hand in the supplier’s service department, are required to keep your line running smoothly.
Keeping packaging productivity high is dependent on your team’s ability to operate the equipment with ease. Confirm thorough training will be provided for your operators, led by factory-trained instructors. The best packaging equipment partners will provide a certification plan to ensure your operators can replicate the machine’s operations once the trainer have left your premises.
Hands-on training provides optimum understanding, and the ability to coach and confirm an operator’s ability to execute a task. During the pandemic, your equipment supplier should be available on-site where needed and allowed, following all proper CDC and company protocols. If on-site training isn’t possible, they should have the demonstrated ability to provide both service and training virtually via web, and by phone if necessary.
Further, inquire about resources your team can use for reference like manuals and video resources. Your partner should secure and keep these updated for you.
5. Financing and Leasing Options
Given the competitive edge provided through speed to market and your responsiveness to customer needs and expectations, the ability to put equipment and upgrades to work for you quickly can be the difference between surviving and thriving.
Your equipment supplier should provide solutions that allow you to take advantage of new capabilities even if you’ve depleted your CAPx or maximized your annual equipment spend. If this is the case, look for a supplier with leasing options that minimize or eliminate the need for upfront capital. If the need for a packaging capability is shorter-term, ask if they provide equipment rental options.
The best suppliers will offer creative solutions that allow companies with good credit and in good standing to take advantage new capabilities provided by equipment. One such way is to put the cost of the equipment into the consumables to mitigate the need for upfront capital. Once the cost of the equipment is satisfied, the cost of the consumables adjusted to reflect current market pricing.
6. Preparation for the Unexpected - Preventative Maintenance
When you’re in the middle of a production run, the last thing you need is unexpected downtime for repair - or worse; the expense and disruption caused by waiting for parts, rework or emergency service.
Ask about the equipment supplier’s preventative maintenance capabilities. Preventative Maintenance agreements provide assurance that your equipment will be maintained proactively, and serviced preemptively at agreed upon dates to keep your packaging lines operating at peak performance. In this scenario, the supplier’s technicians take responsibility for your equipment performance to reduce unplanned overtime, rejected product, scrap and the likelihood of larger scale repairs.
Using the same discipline for understanding service capabilities, inquire about the scope of their abilities to provide this service across your packaging lines.
7. Financial Stability and the Customer Experience
Ask about the company’s history, growth trajectory and innovations. In the best of times financial stability is an indicator of the level of service and attention you can expect from a supplier. In a pandemic environment, your packaging equipment supplier’s viability is all the more important. Their financial health will inform the resources, staff and availability to you to support your purchase and your packaging operations.
Ask for references from customers who have implemented similar equipment solutions. Listen for their satisfaction with installation, service, support and the sense of urgency that they experienced from the equipment supplier.
Your business and the environment you operate in are dynamic. Opt for a packaging equipment partner that that invests themselves in your success well beyond the immediate equipment need. Choose an equipment supplier that has demonstrated their commitment to innovation with their customers. Ask for examples of solutions that made their customers better marketplace competitors, and explore for the value-added solutions they bring to your organization that will do the same for you.
Selecting the best packaging equipment supplier for your operations has far reaching consequences. The right packaging partner will ensure the right equipment to optimize your packaging and your packaging operations.
Contact us to ask us your packaging equipment questions and to learn how SupplyOne simplifies packaging equipment ownership to save you time, money and cash-flow.