When the pace of sales overwhelms the pace of production, the first action is to increase packaging line speed, usually by buying the latest machinery. But before investing in high-speed machine, consider how a faster machine may affect the other steps in the packaging line.
Bottlenecks: It seems sensible to replace the slow machine causing a bottleneck but a new machine that runs much faster than the rest may cause new bottlenecks downstream as other machines cannot keep pace. It is vital to consider upgrading the other machines at the same time to achieve the faster rate of production desired.
Buying Too Much Machine: Investing in more speed and capacity than is needed not only increases costs today but it also adds the risk that if and when the projected growth is achieved, the machinery may need repair or replacement. Consider building an entry level packaging line with automated technology that delivers the required speed now and can also be upgraded to keep pace with growth.
Labor: Automating manual tasks immediately increases production rates and saves on labor. But as the packaging line becomes faster and more automated, it also becomes more complex and downtime more expensive. This may require investing in a full-time line maintenance and operations person who can manage fast changeovers and keep production moving.
As a result to get the most ROI on faster machinery, consider the overall packaging line as a system and add automated machinery incrementally to keep pace with production while minimizing both the risk and the cost.