Autobag leads the way safeguarding packaging productivity in a post pandemic world

With the recent Corona Virus Pandemic causing businesses to re-evaluate how they operate Duncan Hall, UKI Commercial Director at Autobag considers how automation will drive productivity and ensure continuity of supply is safeguarded in the post pandemic world.

In early 2020 no one could have predicted the wide-ranging effects and consequences the Covid-19 pandemic would have on every aspect of our lives from how we go about our day to day lives, how we socialise and how we work.  For many office staff and non-location dependent employees the ability to continue our work from home has been a welcome avenue to allow work to continue and businesses to push forward amidst this new socially distant world we are inhabiting however production and distribution functions can only be carried out at a central place of work whether that be a factory or distribution centre, and the Covid Pandemic has caused businesses to look at how we can prepare ourselves for future such events and safeguard our production, business and colleagues against unknown factors such as a global pandemic.

Automation has long been the way to move industry forward and improve productivity and Autobag has been at the forefront of providing automated and semi-automated bagging solutions, first established 50 years ago in Queens New York and now part of Sealed Air, Autobag has been providing packaging automation to a wide range of customers and industries across the world and is renowned as a pioneer in packaging automation.

Duncan Hall, UKI Commercial Director for Autobag explains the impact Covid 19 had on their customers and how Autobag were able to provide solutions to meet the varying needs the pandemic created, “When the first lockdown hit in March 2020 businesses were effectively blindsided as they clamored for answers as to how they could continue to operate whilst respecting new protocols such as social distancing with the safety of their staff at the forefront of their considerations, at the same time there was a surge in demand for things like PPE and Covid testing kits.  Many businesses quickly reshaped their whole operations to respond to the urgent request from the UK Government for things like visors, face masks and rapid testing kits.  Whilst in many instances their existing production assets could be quickly modified through the addition of new tooling, the operation was compromised with a lack of automation to complete the packing of the products, this meant a choice between manual packing which would mean lots of people or automation, lots of people would compromise the safety of those people so it was clear automation or semi automation was the answer.  The different sizes and specifications of products meant that flexibility would be key and the Autobag 500 bagger with inline printer was ideal to serve these needs.  One customer who was packing visors for the NHS saw their productivity increase from one operator hand bagging at a rate of 200 visors an hour to one operator packing on the Autobag 500 bagger at a rate of 1400 visors per hour.  For our customers, the quick response we were able to offer in terms of delivery and installation along with the comfort of using a UK based manufacturer with comprehensive UK based after sales, service and support meant Autobag gave them the confidence they needed to commit to and fulfil these urgent requirements created in response to the Covid pandemic.  We are really proud of the role we played in facilitating this rapid response particularly when the end result was providing the PPE needed to protect our brave NHS frontline workers”

As we move out of the pandemic businesses will be looking to minimize their exposure to future such events and Autobag will continue to play a key role in this development, Duncan explained “Businesses have for a longtime aspired towards touchless manufacturing processes and Autobag has been at the forefront of providing solutions to improve the productivity of packing operations in a wide range of industries, from hardware to aerospace and medical to e-commerce and fulfilment.  The fallout from the covid pandemic has accelerated and priortised those plans.  More recently we have worked with customers to provide fully integrated automated solutions utilising the latest pick and place robot technology to further enhance customer’s productivity.  Prior to the pandemic but even more so now warehouse space is at a premium, business can no longer afford to have multiple packing locations taking up valuable space, this is compounded by a labour shortage created by factors such as Brexit and we are also seeing the cost of outsourcing packing work to low-cost economies increasing so in many ways it is a perfect storm for many UK based manufacturers.  An Autobag solution will allow businesses to bring the packing operation in house, and take control of their output and costs, the range of equipment we offer from small PS125 Onestep desktop baggers to the Autobag 500 and the Autobag 850s means that we have solutions to meet the requirement of small to medium operations requiring semi-automated systems as well as high volume, high demand operations that are looking for fully automated and integrated packaging solutions.”

In the new post pandemic world, businesses will need to reevaluate their operations and it is clear automation will provide a route to protecting businesses current and future operations.

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