manufacturing trends: co-packing and end-of-line packaging

in trending now by Rethink Robotics

Collaborative robots or cobots are an innovation automation solution for packaging and co-packing facilities.

Everything we purchase these days involves packaging, and can include a box, plastic or glass bottle or jar, plastic tray or bag, foam inserts, and other items. As I write this, our local markets all have end cap displays featuring summer cookout items, from bags of marshmallow roasting sticks to boxes of graham crackers.

How items are packaged is changing as companies demand that manufacturers provide packaging that’s unique to their business and product type — e.g. a big brand retailer versus a local “Main Street” shop.

Customized packaging is especially prevalent in the food and grocery business, with the global food packaging market having reached $273.9 billion in 2017. Driving the industry are factors such as changes in lifestyle, increasing urbanization, smaller households, and increasing food variety.

Seasonality can also play a role. A co-packer may experience peak activity before major holidays – where candies, nuts or other items are arranged in special sets or trays.

Two types of consumers are driving how food is packaged: those who buy online and those who still shop brick and mortar. Online grocers account for $12 billion of the $627 billion US grocery market – and 27% of US adults say they’ve purchased food online (source: AdWeek).

Within brick and mortar stores, how items are displayed is changing how they’re packaged. Retailers are using horizontal and vertical spaces to drive impulse or bulk purchases and end cap displays to promote specialty or seasonal sales items. (Source: Packaging Digest)

These changes, whether for the grocery shelf or the e-commerce website, as well as how they’re shipped (e.g. traditional pallet or USPS) are impacting co-packers and packaging companies.

Collaborative Robots (cobots) from Rethink Robotics can help you manage these changes to your customers’ product mix. Easy to use and train, Sawyer can work on the line setting up trays, kitting, or packing boxes – and then retrained when the product or mix changes.

Next, watch how manufacturers of all sizes are increasing productivity and solving packaging challenges with collaborative robots in our video gallery. Then learn how they’re automating more applications on the factory floor with cobots, and where similar opportunities may exist on your production line.


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