From Handcrafted to High-Tech: The Small Business Guide to Packaging Automation
Small businesses often find themselves at a crossroads when it comes to production and packaging. They start their journey with a strong passion for their craft, whether it’s creating artisanal chocolates, brewing beer, or bottling homemade jams. These small-scale operations begin as a labour of love, where every product is carefully handcrafted, labelled, and packaged with immense pride. However, as these businesses begin to gain traction and experience increasing demand for their products, they inevitably confront the prospect of packaging automation. This transformation marks a pivotal moment in their entrepreneurial journey.
The Daunting First Step
Tom Smith, Managing Director of Advanced Dynamics, provides valuable insights into this pivotal transition. Small businesses typically commence their automation journey with a sense of trepidation. The shift from manual production to packaging automation can seem daunting, often constituting one of the most substantial investments they’ve ever made. The challenge lies in the fact that many of these entrepreneurs are not entirely certain about their automation needs.
Tom suggests “The solution is to listen closely to their requirements.”
By engaging in a detailed conversation about the products and current systems, a packaging automation provider can identify the specific needs, making it much easier to recommend the right labelling system or automation solution.
Building Trust and Saving Money
One of the benefits of working directly with a packaging automation provider, rather than a supplier, is the development of a trusting partnership. Small businesses can rely on these experts not just for machinery but also for consultation on their various packaging needs. As a business grows, this partnership becomes an invaluable resource, guiding them through various aspects of the packaging process.
Tom said “We’ve had small businesses come to us about anything and everything. If you get the trusted partnership right, they start asking you about mortgages… maybe that’s a bit too much trust!”
A compelling case for investing in packaging automation is the substantial time and cost saving it offers. Companies transition from hand-labelling to using an Advanced Dynamics automated machine and experience a significant increase in production speed and efficiency, translating directly into money saved. Such transformations can solidify trust and loyalty between businesses and their automation partners.
Labour Efficiency and Growth
One common scenario is that small businesses employ numerous people for basic manual tasks. When they realise that a packaging machine can do the same work faster, more accurately, and at a lower cost, it can sell them on making the switch.
“Investing in packaging automation is like hiring a team of efficient employees who never take a break and always work at peak productivity.”
Small businesses often start their automation journey with labelling machines. That’s because labelling is often the most labour-intensive part of the process, and solving this bottleneck allows for a drastic increase in efficiency. By automating the labelling process, businesses can continue with the same workforce but significantly increase product output.
The path to packaging automation need not be set in stone from the outset. Once you make the first step, it becomes far easier to expand your automation strategy. The initial investment in a piece of equipment can serve as a benchmark for deciding when to take the next step. For example, you could consider expanding your automation when the initial investment has paid off, or when you meet a specific production goal, or when your needs and plans change.
The Compact Solution
For many small businesses, a compact labelling machine like the ELF-50 from Advanced Dynamics is the ideal choice. It offers versatility for different bottle sizes and label dimensions, making it perfect for companies with limited space but a varied catalogue of products. The ease of moving and setting up the machine on a desktop means that you don’t need an extensive production floor or factory to benefit from automated labelling.
Expert Advice for Small Businesses
If you’re a small business considering your first step into packaging automation, the advice is clear: “Speak to people who know about it.”
Seek the guidance of industry experts and trusted partners who can help you make informed decisions. Collaboration with experienced professionals will ensure that you invest in the right solutions to grow your business efficiently.
Packaging automation can be a game-changer for small businesses, allowing them to meet increased demand, improve product quality, and free up time and resources for other critical aspects of their operations. By taking that first step, you can embark on a journey of growth, efficiency, and success.