As a co-packer, you have two customers, the brand and their store front. While they dictate your business, you must also determine how to be the most efficient and cost effective so that you can profit. Brenton experiences these challenges with our co-pack customers. Our partnership begins at the design phase where we work together to develop the most flexible solution for their current and future needs.
In 2016, Brenton partnered with a personal care co-packer to design a BrentonPro Mach-2 side load case packer. Brenton selected the Mach-2 because of its diverse product and case functionality. The co-packer was interested in packing three, different style bottles. A driving force in their search for automation was material savings. Their evaluation included comparison costs of RSC cases vs. wrap around cases. Brenton’s proposal featured the traditionally less expensive, a wrap-around style case. This is where the challenge of the store-front comes in to play. Wrap-around cases utilize less corrugate which warrants the cost savings. However, once you break the case open, the case does not hold its shape like a standard RSC case. This would require a case to be completely unloaded once it was opened.
Additionally, like any customer, the co-packer was looking for reasonable ROI. Conventional case packers, like the BrentonPro Mach-2, are designed and manufactured to the products that the customer is packing. From the perspective of the co-packer, the consistency of hard automation provides high reward, but the limited flexibility is a hindrance. With brands regularly changing the products that a co-packer will be packing, purchasing a conventional case packer makes ROI difficult to achieve. The co-packer would have been looking at regular change over and probable retrofitting of the equipment. It was time to move away from hard automation and design a more flexible solution.
Robotics and Co-packing
How does a co-packer achieve long term ROI and continuous flexibility? The answer is robotics. As highlighted in our February Robotic vs. Traditional Case Packers post, when a customer is looking to pack various product shapes, sizes and styles, in multiple patterns, robotic applications will provide you with required flexibility. This flexibility comes from the robot’s end of arm tooling (EOAT) which can handle multiple products. Additionally, when new products are introduced, instead of a new machine or complete retrofit, the co-packer only requires a new EOAT. This is more cost effective and extends the lifespan of your case packer.
Over the last decade, robots have continued to evolve making them ever more co-packer friendly. From collaborative robots that can run side-by-side with humans to increasingly economic robots, the future of co-packing is robotic.