packaging efficiency

Metal Detectors Used in the Food Industry Keep us Safe

 
Metal Detectors Used in the Food Industry Keep us Safe
 

Food safety and quality experts, as well as food production experts, often use metal detection as a method for identifying foreign bodies and contaminants in food. Most of the time, these professionals consider three essential factors - capability or total application of the equipment, optimum detection point and total cost or benefit.

Food detection technologies continue to evolve and improve. Each time new processes and detection methods become available in the market, new standards and guidelines are set in place. The dynamic changes in food safety lead to confusion especially in the type and brand of metal detection equipment to use.

Just like radio waves, metal detection involves the use of electrical impulses. Detecting foreign bodies in food is determined by altered transmission and reception signals in electrical impulses. The difference in the expected signal and the received signal signifies the presence of foreign material in food. Metal detection used in the food industry is more complicated than those used in the security industry. In food safety and quality control, subject materials pass through the system faster. This can result in a lesser detection rate. Additionally, the type and size of the foreign material embedded in the product can have significant effects on the detection rate. False detections are common in metal detection and these can be highly frustrating and costly at the same time.

Metal detectors well suited in the food industry must possess certain qualities such as high sensitivity, full automation, ease of use, reliability, and robustness as well as cost effectiveness. Millions of subjects must pass through the system so it is important that a metal detection machine gives out a reliable outcome.

Why You Should Automate Your Labeling Process

Product labeling manually can be an adequate process for small applications. However, as a company grows and the packaging demands increase, automation can make a tremendous impact on your efficiency and become a valuable investment. Here are four benefits of labeling automation.


1. Labor Savings with Automation

Labor is expensive, but with automation, you can free up your employees to be productive in other ways. An investment up front will create long-term savings in labor costs because these systems last for years. A quality system that is designed properly for your application will last for many years and help you grow your business and meet the demands of your customers without needing to increase your workforce just for labeling.

2. Consistent Label Placement

With manual label application, higher throughput results in more labels and less consistency in label placement. When an operator has to peel a label off a liner and then apply that label to a product, it's not an exact science. The label will often be crooked or wrinkled, and the faster they have to move, the more inconsistent the label becomes. This can lead to poor shelf appeal, barcode damage or even result in the label tearing or coming off the package.
Automation allows you to keep your label placement on target, even when throughput increases.

3. Keeping Up with Demand

As your workflow increases, your label applicator can speed up with the demand. If you're hand applying and you have an increased demand for your product, you'll need to invest in more labor or even take people away from other productive projects. 

4. Reduced Label Errors

Verification options can make sure the right label was applied to the right product. Scanners and imagers can make sure that the barcodes and text are legible. With hand-applications you're more likely to encounter human error issues with labeling.

There are two types of label automation: Primary and Print-Apply.

Primary label automation is the process of applying fully pre-printed labels directly to products, virtually any size and shape. From food products like jelly jars, bakery clamshell containers or wine bottles, to health and beauty products like shampoo and lotions, to anything else that needs a label. You'll find benefits to label automation with almost all primary packaging applications.

Print-apply adds variable printing to the label before it applies the label to the product. The most common use of print-apply is to apply labels to corrugated cartons with variably printed shipping labels. Other uses can include printing ingredients and nutritional facts on labels that are applied to food products. You'll also find print-apply applications that add warnings to chemical containers or serial numbers on labels that are applied to appliances or circuit boards. In both applications you could label by hand. But imagine how much time, money, and productivity you'll gain by investing in an accurate label automation system. 

To learn more about getting started with automation, or upgrading your current labeling systems, speak with one our packaging specialist today 305-681-5000

What's the Least Biodegradable Form of Packaging?

Biodegradable packaging

Today’s world has created a new generation of packaging materials that are focused on eco-friendliness and recyclability. The reality is that most products that you can use for packing today are going to be recyclable to some extent. However, there are still forms of packing materials out there that are not as friendly and that will take forever to biodegrade. Even with all of the recent advancements in technology, there are products that are going to be the worst to use for packing in terms of biodegradability, and you should be aware of them so that you can reduce your impact successfully.

Even with recyclable materials and improvements in eco-friendly packaging, plastic still remains the least biodegradable product that you can buy. There are plastics that are recyclable and biodegradable, of course, but they have to be disposed of properly. In the event that these products are simply sent to the landfill, they will still take years and years to completely degrade and become a part of the earth. Paper and cardboard packaging supplies are much more biodegradable and eco-friendly regardless of how they are handled. If you are truly in need of plastic or other chemical-based packing materials for your shipments, you should ensure that you use them sparingly and recycle them accordingly to get the most out of your packing and shipping.

Plastics have always been a constant source of debate. While air bags and plastic materials used for packaging are a great way to protect shipments and keep things safe, they are also going to take up valuable space in landfills and won’t break down as quickly as other materials that are available for packaging in today’s world. It’s always important to think about what you are shipping and which materials will be the most protective as well as the most eco-friendly so that you can reduce your impact on the planet.

With so many different packaging materials out there to choose from, it isn’t difficult for you to find materials that will suit your needs. Whether you need a lot of materials to protect your items or just something unique that allows your items to stand out, you can find plenty of solutions that are eco-friendly and biodegradable. If you are going to use plastic, make sure that it can be discarded accordingly or that it has a high biodegradability so that you aren’t using materials that are harmful to the environment.

Steel Versus Polyester Strapping

Steel Strapping

Steel strapping is the process of using thick steel-reinforced bands to secure a load to a pallet or other carrier. Steel straps have a long and reliable track record for cargo reinforcement, and can be easily applied using a specially designed tensioner or similar piece of equipment.

Characteristics of Steel Straps

Steel straps are purchased in rolls and are usually half an inch to three-quarters of an inch wide and approximately an eighth of an inch thick. They are commonly found in grades of regular duty and high tensile, the latter of which is rich in carbon content and is used to bear extremely heavy loads and withstand extreme shocks. Steel straps are naturally highly durable, but are subject to rusting and can occasionally produce cuts or abrasions with their sharp edges. They are also quite heavy and expensive, with a standard roll retailing at well over one hundred dollars.

Advantage of Steel Straps

In many cases, plastic straps such as those made from polypropylene are preferable, as these are a good deal less costly and tend to be friendlier on the handler. However, plastic straps possess one crucial weakness: they are extremely susceptible to elongation. It is in this criteria that steel straps shine, for the average rate of steel elongation is a fraction of a percent for any given load, whereas plastic straps may extend as much as twenty-five percent, causing them to snap or simply dislodge their cargo.

Advantage of Polester Strap

Polyester strapping has a high break strength and is a viable alternative to steel strapping. When applied to heavy loads, polyester strap can absorb a high amount of energy without breaking and it has a higher resistance to elongation under tension than other types of strap. The strap can be applied manually or by automatic process.

Manufactured from industrial textile yarn, the strap’s rounded edges will not scratch paintwork, score surfaces or damage forklift truck tyres. The edges allow it to fit smoothly around packaging contours including those of difficult or unusually shaped products. Our polyester strapping can be printed with a company’s logo or message to enhance its appearance and security value

10 Reasons to replace Hand Wrap with a Stretch Wrapper for your Pallet Wrapping Applications.

1. Consistent and Uniform Application: An operator who wraps pallets with hand wrap stretch film is not able to wrap every load exactly the same way, time and time again. A load wrapped by one operator Monday morning will not be wrapped the same way as another operator on Friday afternoon. Pallet wrapping with a stretch wrap machine eliminates this issue.

2. Professional Package:

Wrapping a pallet using a stretch wrap machine produces a clean professional finished product. Pallet wrapping with hand wrap leaves a rather erratic and uneven look. The look of your pallet load on your customer’s floor must project the professional image you want for your company. Pallet wrapping with a stretch wrap machine eliminates this issue.

3. Training:

There is a right way and a wrong way to wrap a pallet with hand wrap. Applied incorrectly, hand wrap may crush the product or allow the product to shift during transport. Employee turnover or multiple operators mean that you must continually train employees on how to correctly wrap the loads to ensure customer satisfaction while ensuring they do not injure themselves. Pallet wrapping with a stretch wrap machine eliminates this issue.

4. Employee Safety:

Hand wrapping pallets is an extremely difficult job if it is done correctly, and a common source of employee back injuries when performed incorrectly. The human form is not designed to walk hunched over manipulating an 8-10 lbs weight while also trying to pull enough tension into the film to hold the pallet load together. Then 20 seconds later you are holding the same roll of stretch film above your head to do the top of the pallet, again tugging on the film using only your back and arm muscles. Many accidents and work related injuries are caused by hand wrapping pallets. (Health & Safety) stretch wrapping guidelines before making your pallet wrapping decision. Pallet wrapping with a stretch wrap machine eliminates this issue.

5. Load Integrity:

No one likes hand wrapping. At some point the “good enough” syndrome takes over. Knowing what is required to keep your product unitized during shipping, and while it is on your customer’s floor, is essential in setting your stretch wrapping specifications for your operator’s to follow. When an employee is hand wrapping pallets the responsibility of meeting minimum tension requirements is left up to him. Fatigue, ignorance, training, or lack of motivation can affect the employee’s “good enough” point resulting in potential complaints or damage due to poorly wrapped product. Pallet wrapping with a stretch wrap machine eliminates this issue.

6. Damage Control:

As employees deal with the difficulty of hand wrapping the goal becomes just wrapping it enough to get it out the door. Wrapping the load to eliminate damage during transit and at your customer’s warehouse becomes secondary. Pallet wrapping with a stretch wrap machine eliminates this issue as it wraps the same way every time reducing the potential of a pallet being damaged during transit.

7. Customer Satisfaction:

Pallet wrapping your product is the LAST operation you perform and the FIRST operation your customer sees of your capabilities as a supplier. Your customer’s perception of your competence as a supplier starts the minute your pallet of product arrives at his dock. Inconsistently hand wrapped pallets can give the perception of a low-end manufacturer. Lowering your standards of production during this last operation can be costly. Pallet wrapping with a stretch wrap machine eliminates this issue.

8. Film Savings:

Although the key to stretch wrapping is to make sure that we get the product to the customer intact, we all want to do it for the least amount of cost. With the machine set to wrap the loads with the least amount of stretch film required to hold the load together, you eliminate unnecessary extra revolutions of film being applied by well meaning operators. At a point, more film does not hold the load better, it is just waste. Pallet wrapping with a stretch wrap machine eliminates this issue.

9. Damaged Hand Wrap Rolls:

An expensive hidden cost of hand wrapping is the cost of all the rolls of stretch film that are thrown away because they have been nicked or damaged when thrown to the ground or left lying around. This cost can sometimes be as much as 15-20% of your hand wrap costs. Pallet wrapping with a stretch wrap machine eliminates this issue.

10. Quality Control:

By definition, hand wrapping a pallet manually prevents you from obtaining any type of repeatability. Multiple operators, time of day, fatigue and many other variables prevents any type of QC standards. Pallet wrapping with a stretch wrap machine allows you to either eliminate, or preset these variables. This ensures repeatability, allowing loads to be wrapped to a set quality standard. Pallet wrapping with a stretch wrap machine eliminates this issue.

Eliminating any one of these issues justifies pallet wrapping with a stretch wrap machine.

10 Easy Steps to Increase Warehouse Efficiency

What does your warehouse say about your dealership? Having grown up in a construction supply house, I spent countless hours observing the good, the bad and the ugly of warehouse management. I am probably the only person you’ve ever met who has vacuumed warehouse shelves.

The erratic demands of customers make maintaining a warehouse a never-ending battle, but here are a few tips I’ve found useful over the years:

Clean The Place

It is amazing what you’ll find in the warehouse when you just clean it on a weekly basis. Mystery inventory such as: returned goods, damaged goods and special buyouts won’t have any place to hide.

Beyond the ability to move more quickly in the facility, your team will begin to develop a greater sense of pride in their workplace. Remember, this is the place where all your cash is stored. You want a team that protects your cash from the outside threats of salespeople, truck drivers, and manufacturer reps.

Give Personnel An Identity

Your warehouse employees work with your cash all day long. Make shirts for tham that say "Vault Security Team" or "Vault Management Team" or something similar that signifies the importance of what they do.

This does a couple of things. First, it reminds them that inventory has value. Second, it helps identify those people who belong in the warehouse.

A key element in keeping a secure warehouse is to eliminate those folks who have no business being in there.

Increase The Receiving Area

When most people are designing a warehouse, they tend to cram as many racks of inventory into the space as possible. Usually as an afterthought, they carve out enough room for a little desk by the dock door, run a terminal to it and call it the receiving department.

Here’s the problem: Most inventory errors start in receiving. If you make a mistake here, 10 additional problems will occur in the company. Start by giving them adequate room to work. You’ll see your inventory adjustments decrease immediately.

Put Senior People In Receiving

Why do we always put rookies in receiving? As I mentioned earlier, mistakes in receiving cause multiple headaches down the line. Make sure you get it right coming in the door.

Pay your receiving clerks well, and encourage them to stay in the position. Remember, you’ll always have more product coming in than going out.

Receiving is your one place to get it right the first time so you don’t have to redo orders later because of receiving errors.

Create Signage

Don’t assume your newer employees can navigate the aisles. Help them out. Create colorful signs to direct them to aisles or bins. Warehouse maps are a great way to increase productivity immediately. Clearly label any and all landmarks.

Try this: Ask one of your friends to come into your warehouse and pick an order. If your warehouse is set up correctly, they should achieve a high success rate without asking questions on every item. It needs to be that easy.

Add Descriptions To Pick Tickets

Most item databases will allow you to add multiple lines of description to any SKU in the system. Use them and you’ll increase the order pickers chance of pulling the right product.

Put in physical descriptions like "the blue one" or "two wheel." This is especially critical when you’re talking about minimum quantities. Make it clear that the "each" actually refers to the pair that’s in the pack, not to one of the two.

This simple change will help you eliminate future dead stock. Don’t worry about killing a few extra trees. They grow back.

Double Check Orders

A really bad motto for a distribution company is "We fix our mistakes faster than anyone else in the business."

For the typical distributor, the cost to process an order is about $45. It costs an additional $100 to send it out the second time. None of us has enough margin to be able to absorb this cost on a regular basis.

In order to get it right the first time, install a method of double-checking using one of your seasoned veterans. This is especially important if you have new people picking orders.

Create Color Coded Labels

In order to make it easier for your delivery staff, develop a custom colored label for each of your most valuable customers. Make sure every package you deliver to that customer has that label.

Your drivers will be able to quickly identify those orders. You don't want to make mistakes on orders to your best customers.

Implement "Days Work In A Day"

Simply stated: "What is started today, must be completed today." If you receive it, it must be put away. If an order is put in the system and a pick ticket is printed, it must be picked and shipped or staged.

In order to make this happen, create cut-off times. Order processing must end at a defined time. We need to give the warehouse a chance to finish the day.

Implement Cycle Counting

Most of us know what it is. Some of us recognize the benefits. Few of us have made it part of our standard operating procedures. Cycle counting will increase the accuracy in your systems.

By examining inventory daily, you'll find those mystery items that have found their way to the shelves. You can correct items that have been put in the wrong place. You can rotate stock. The list can go on indefinitely.

Cycle counting is penicillin for distributors because it attacks so many little problems and solves them on a timely basis. Good customer service begins in the warehouse. Sloppy procedures and a disorganized warehouse show what you think about your customers, you employees and the work you do.

CED Magazine, August 2006

Article Date: 08-01-2006

Copyright (C) 2006 Associated Equipment Distributors. All Rights Reserved.