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Thinking About Automating your Food Manufacturing Plant? Start Here!

Automation can improve competitiveness in any industry, and the food sector is no different. When a food processing plant starts implementing automation, the plant begins to eliminate waste, improve efficiency, and expand profit margins. The resulting cost savings can be diverted to improving business processes and R&D. Additionally, automation can assist in; production, packaging, and waste disposal can quickly comply with regulatory changes, eliminate injury, and bring down labor costs.


Complete automation may appear ideal for many food manufacturers, however, connecting every component in a food plant would be challenging. So, where should a plant start, when implementing automation? To maximize the automation ROI on the production floor, start by figuring out which pieces need to be automated first.


The First Steps to Automation


So, where to start? Manufacturing depends on producing the highest volume of goods within the shortest period of time, while maintaining industry standards for quality. One way to think of this is to break the current process down into five different components:


· Volume – The amount of product at the end of the process

· Cost – Keeping cost per unit as low as possible without sacrificing standards

· Waste – Time, energy, downtime, and hiring costs all factor into waste

· Quality – Producing a higher volume of goods with greater quality is key

· Safety – Keeping your staff safe, and reducing unplanned downtime in the process


By reducing waste down the manufacturing line as well as cost per unit, while increasing volume, quality, and safety; profits are likely to rise as a result. When considering automation, think about the weakest link in the chain of the manufacturing line. If one area is prone to bottlenecks, producing substandard results, or slowing down the rest of the pipeline, that area is a great place to start when buying your first piece(s) of equipment designed for automation.


Alternatively, consider the parts of the manufacturing line that are the most heavily staffed. For instance, a manufacturer may have one part of the assembly line dedicated to applying ingredients by hand. If this part of the assembly line is heavily staffed just to keep up with the rest of the line, this could be an excellent place to implement automation. By doing this, it frees up manpower that could be distributed across the rest of your manufacturing line.


Ramping Up Automation


Automating your manufacturing line doesn’t have to happen overnight. It can start with a single machine, and then gradually replacing obsolete machines with streamlined, high quality machines designed with automation in mind.


The ROI on automation is generally believed to be around 2 years. Over the period of a decade, a savvy manufacturer could use this to build out an entire automated production line as possible, by replacing obsolete machines that are part of the manufacturing line, with faster equipment.


Manufacturing is an industry that is already embracing automation as a solution to issues like staffing. Because of high turnover, a large portion of a manufacturer’s budget is spent on human resources and restaffing. For this reason, automation isn’t destroying jobs in the manufacturing sector – it is simply filling a hole in a leaky bucket.

Once you fix a broken link in your food manufacturing line, other weaknesses will reveal themselves. With one part of the line running at peak performance, new bottlenecks may emerge that expose problems that had already existed, yet weren’t immediately apparent due to the first weak link in the chain. This isn’t a bad thing – it points the way to successfully bring more automation to your business, and allow the maximization of profits.


Customized Solutions for Automation


Every food manufacturing line is a little bit different –machines by major manufacturers tend to be standard, even though different ingredients, processes, and workflows go into every manufacturing plant. Simply buying a new machine might not always be the best choice. Instead, consider customized solutions for your manufacturing line.

A custom machine can be precisely built around the dimensions and specifications of your process, reducing problems like bottlenecks that naturally emerge as well as reducing the amount of stress of the rest of the food manufacturing line. Custom food manufacturing automation provides:


· High quality

· Precision production

· Easy replacement of obsolete parts

· Meets the unique requirements of the manufacturer


How can custom automation help your food manufacturing business? Custom Cut Metals can help. Contact us today for more information.

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