As the food manufacturing industry prioritizes food safety, quality, and production rates, the concept of an automated production line has become the norm. More facilities than ever are accepting the enhanced, high-speed, computer-controlled methodology. Automated food production lines are not single systems but rather a unified concept of using high-tech software to fulfill manufacturing tasks in a more measured, accurate, and efficient way. Your food manufacturing facility can use robotics and computer technology to pack products, move items between workstations, seal packages, weigh items, and more.
At TDI Packsys, we’re huge advocates for revolutionizing the food industry through more controlled, safe, and efficient manufacturing practices. Our high-performance packaging automation systems enable you to increase production and quality at the same time. Below, we discuss everything you need to know about implementing an automated production line at your food manufacturing facility.
Automatic Production Line Benefits
An automatic production line provides numerous benefits for your business, end consumers, and the food industry as a whole, including the following:
- High productivity rates: Automation systems work fast and reduce the chances of human error, so you can increase productivity rates.
- Improved consistency: Computerized systems complete tasks according to code, meaning each product will have perfect consistency. You won’t need to worry about uneven weights or other errors that might occur with manual work.
- Reduced unit costs over time: High productivity rates equal low unit costs. The initial price for an automatic production line may seem high, but the investment will pay for itself over time.
- Improved safety: Manufacturing equipment may be dangerous for human employees. You can remove this liability by automating tasks.
- Ideal quality control: Automated systems prevent human errors from slipping through the cracks. Improved quality control reduces the risks of profit losses, lawsuits, and more.
- Flexibility: Automated production systems typically serve numerous functions. You can easily update the programming to adjust how the software works for your facility. For example, if you introduce a new product, you won’t have an issue sending it through your line.
- Integration abilities: Automatic production line software can integrate with other systems your facility uses for enhanced insights regarding transportation data, storage, output, and more.
- Better time management: Automating tasks frees your team to focus on more complex jobs that require critical thinking. Your facility can operate more smoothly with a dedicated management workforce.
- Boosted consumer satisfaction: Your end-consumers will enjoy higher-quality, more consistent, and potentially cheaper products after you’ve implemented an automated system.
- Improved public food access: High production levels and low operating costs allow manufacturing facilities to reduce their unit prices, ultimately improving public access to necessary food items.
Outlining the Initial Cost
How much an automated production line costs depends on your facility’s size and needs. The different types of systems, which we’ll discuss below, come at varying price points. Your food manufacturing facility may simply need one system to automate a key task or a full suite of tools to take over your assembly line.
You should think of the cost as an investment. While the initial price tag may seem high, it will quickly make up for itself over time as you increase productivity, reduce manual labor costs, and eliminate errors. If you’d like to receive a quote for an automated production line at your facility, call TDI Packsys at (877) 834-6750.
Key Components and Operations of Successful Food Production Line Output
Operating a successful food production line involves numerous moving parts. While computerized systems may revolve around automation, you can’t simply turn them on and let them go to work. To reap all the benefits, your facility must work in symmetry.
The key components and operational requirements for a successful food production line include the following:
- People: A dedicated, knowledgeable, and trained workforce ensures food production lines operate correctly. Your team should have the proper training and tools to operate all machinery safely. For example, some workers may need ladders to safely access robotic arms, while others may need specific data to optimize operation.
- Robotics: Robotics is a fundamental aspect of automated assembly lines. Robots can perform numerous human-like tasks, including welding, assembly, and packing, without error.
- Industrial equipment: Robotics requires industrial equipment for a streamlined workflow. Your industrial equipment might include a conveyor system, automated guided vehicles, automatic tool changers, and more.
- Machine vision: Automated systems use high-tech visioning for operational purposes and to detect product defects or inconsistencies.
- The resulting data: Automated production lines allow you to track and analyze data to optimize performance over time.
Types of Automation Solutions
Numerous types of automation systems and practices exist, serving different functions. The primary types of automated production line solutions include the following:
- Fully automated: Controls all tasks 24/7, from assembling the raw materials to sending off the finished products
- Semi-automated: Combines manual labor with automated systems, requiring human operators and control checkpoints
- Fixed automated: Performs one specific task repeatedly, like assembling a product, with minimal variations
- Flexible automated: Focuses on performing one task, but can easily adapt as your facility’s needs or products change
- Lean manufacturing automation: Prioritizes efficiency and waste reduction by implementing quality control, cost savings, data analysis, and more
- Continuous motion within high-throughput manufacturing automation: Continuously operates without interruptions for seamless, high-efficiency output rates
Planning and Implementation
Numerous types of machines can help you achieve any of the above solutions. The type of solutions your facility needs will depend on its size, budget, output needs, labor requirements, and other factors. Consider your facility’s current needs and future goals when planning and implementing a shift toward an automated production line.
Consider which processes could be more efficient, controlled, or consistent if automated. Once you understand the processes you wish to automate, you can seek out systems for your tasks. Reach out to our team at TDI Packsys to learn more about our equipment options.
After selecting your systems, you will likely need to hire professionals to install the equipment and onboard your team. Ensure all your workers understand how to safely use the equipment to its full capacity so you can take advantage of all its features. Once implemented, you can begin assessing the incoming data and optimizing accordingly.
Automatic Production Line Maintenance and Tips
Automatic production line maintenance ensures your investment yields the highest returns for your facility at all times. We recommend the following tips when maintaining your automated production line:
- Involve your team in the installation, implementation, and onboarding processes
- Complete all software updates when available
- Continually train team members on new updates
- Reach out to the system provider with any questions
- Start small and only expand your equipment as needed
- Assess incoming data and optimize accordingly
- Schedule downtime in advance for necessary maintenance
- Troubleshoot technical issues immediately
At TDI Packsys, we want to help your manufacturing facility master its production rates. Continue learning about implementing an automated production line with our educational blog, then reach out to our team when you’re ready to begin. We offer fully customized automation solutions aligned with your facility’s size, budget, and production needs.