Packaging Talk: “Case packing automation is the need of the day”

Not so widely adopted in India, what are the challenges for end-of- the-line packaging automation and what do packagers seek?

31 Mar 2017 | By Rushikesh Aravkar

The goods and services tax (GST) is set to be rolled out later this year. The implementation of GST will lead to more and more products travelling longer distances in transit, passing through several weather zones. In such a scenario, packaging will need to withstand many more challenges.

The rise in modern trade has lead to many high-value SKUs of FMCG items reaching multitude of stores. These segments report shrinkage of more than 6% to around 30-50% in transit. Modern trade also implies smarter movement of goods within the store – palletisation, mechanised movement, vertical stacking. All these will test the durability of the sealing of shipper cartons.

We ask four packaging technologists and one equipment manufacturer how they look at these challenges that the humble courrugated box encounters and discuss if automation can help resolve the issues.

Do you feel the need bring in automation for corrugated case packing?

Anand Rawat
General manager – projects
Godrej Consumer Products

In India, most of the primary packaging lines are automated and to some extent even secondary packaging is automated. However, when it comes to tertiary packing, companies are reluctant to adopt automation and rely on manual labour oriented processes. Manual processes come with inherent troubles in supply chain and logistics. Also, because there is limited demand for the end-of-the-line automation, solutions for auto case packing are restricted to big OEMs in the market, allowing them to charge at their will. As and when more and more users will demand automation, the cost of technology will become affordable. Automation is the future and will definitely replace manual processes. Investing in automation is investing in future.

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Amit Saurkar
Deputy manager - packaging development
Kraft Heinz Company

Yes, I feel the need to bring in end-of-the-line automation. It will help us improve overall packing line efficiency, output and enable faster time to market. It will also help minimise manual labour costs. Many times due to the manual packing of corrugated boxes, the box formation (squaring) gets disturbed and this hampers the in-transit box performance, hence automation is the need of the day.

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Narayan Iyer
Assistant manager – packaging development
Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories

I feel that automatic corrugated case packing will help in bringing significant improvement in productivity only where the annual volume is very high. Having said that, these days it has become critical to entirely eliminate manual intervention from the packing processes from a compliance point of view, especially in a pharma company.