Adopting lean manufacturing principles has helped companies drive waste out of their operations and improve supply chain efficiency, but in many cases these lean initiatives overlook a critical area: packaging. If packaging is not included in a company’s lean efforts, there is a gap in both visibility and optimization. A packaging execution system (PES) can help companies expand their lean initiative across every facet of the supply chain by applying automation to a key final stage in the manufacturing process.
Packaging line operations are critical for ensuring product delivery and achieving rapid response to inventory fulfillment. With a packaging execution system, companies can tap into accurate information from their packaging lines to achieve end-to-end production visibility (important for lean implementation) and improve productivity and efficiency.
These solutions provide complete control over your packaging lines, including all printers, cameras, and controllers, and allow users to manage everything with one single computer interface. With this visibility and control, companies can eliminate unnecessary handling of primary or secondary packaging as well as reduce the types of manual interventions required to address problems or discrepancies on the packaging line.
A packaging execution system provides the reliable metrics and analytical tools necessary to apply lean initiatives to packaging operations. Manually collecting this data cannot provide the real-time information needed to achieve peak performance. A PES allows companies to both monitor and control the packaging process, while automating changeover, inspection, and data collection tasks and reducing the number of times that employees have to intervene in the process.
By centrally monitoring and controlling all actions related to the packaging identification process, all departments within the organization can have access to data pertaining to those processes. This type of visibility helps ensure that activities within the distribution, finance, manufacturing, and supply chain operations can fully support lean improvements using accurate data.
Packaging execution systems also enable specific benefits that directly affect lean manufacturing efforts, including:
- Streamlining labeling formats for more consistent and accurate labeling
- End-to-end serialization, which provides visibility of the entire supply chain
- Elimination of data entry errors caused by manual data collection processes
- Generating more accurate packaging and shipping data, which can enable a more effective resolution of shipping problems and recall management issues
- Generating accurate information about which products are in which boxes
- Enabling complete product traceability
If there is no direct data link between the packaging line and the ERP or other back-end management system, then correct identification of products on the packaging line is impossible. This can lead to errors in labeling, compliance issues, supply chain identification errors, and configuration errors. By leveraging a packaging execution system to support existing lean manufacturing initiatives and expanding those efforts into a Lean Packaging program, companies can provide better visibility and traceability of their products across the supply chain.