Consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies face competing pressures. While customer demand continues to grow, so do skills gaps and labor shortages. As companies focus on sustainability, they must maintain high productivity. To remain competitive in a global market, it’s critical that CPGs excel in all these areas at once.

Although it seems like these challenges require different solutions, there’s one solution that addresses them all — digital transformation. Smart valves and sensors collect critical asset data; smart protocol convertors release trapped machine data from existing controllers and across the packaging floor.  Innovative software translates new and released data into valuable insights and machine health information that is scaled in the cloud. By integrating intelligent floor-to-cloud solutions that automate and optimize packaging processes, CPGs can simultaneously improve sustainability, efficiency and productivity.

Go Greener: Minimize Energy and Resource Consumption

Many companies have set net-zero goals and implemented sustainability strategies. Yet, they may have little information about how much energy and resources their processes use. By unlocking real-time energy and resource consumption, CPGs can reliably reach net-zero initiatives and reduce environmental impact.

A floor-to-cloud solution monitors energy and other resource use and visualizes consumption as well as machine health and process efficiency via equipment- or facility-level visualization. Operators can track usage over time and harness up-to-date information to make decisions that optimize use. The system can also send alerts to specified personnel when issues arise and generate automated environmental reports to satisfy regulations.

Companies can manage and optimize the consumption of utilities such as air, water, steam, gases, chemicals and electricity. Given the prevalence of pneumatic systems in packaging lines, compressed air monitoring is an effective starting point that provides quick return on investment (ROI). Typical facilities lose about 30% of their compressed air to leaks. Smart pneumatic sensors continuously monitor compressed air flow and make it possible to detect leaks in real time and address them in their early stages. This can reduce compressed air consumption and related emissions by 20-30%.  

Go Leaner: Optimize Machines, Processes and Workforce

The skills gap and labor shortage stretch existing staff thin and can make it difficult for them to successfully complete their responsibilities. This includes ensuring machines operate effectively. Floor-to-cloud packaging solutions can automate time-consuming manual processes and equip teams with the knowledge they need to make smart, fast decisions that optimize equipment.

Many CPGs check for equipment issues by having staff travel from machine to machine, which takes considerable time and labor cost. Continuous monitoring and analytics allow operators to see machine health and diagnostics on a single dashboard in real time and receive alerts as issues start to manifest. By addressing issues in their early stages, CPGs can practice preventive maintenance that prevents failures, reduces unplanned downtime and improves overall equipment effectiveness (OEE).

Consider compressed air monitoring. Periodic, manual leak testing costs an average of $46,000 per machine per year, and only provide data the day they are completed. In comparison, smart pneumatic sensors continually monitor compressed air in pneumatic systems. When they detect a leak, specified personnel receive a detailed notification about what to check and do.

Go Greater: Maximize Packaging Productivity

When CPGs optimize their packaging equipment, they optimize their packaging processes. Running packaging machines to failure results in expensive, unplanned downtime and, depending on product lifespan, potential product loss or quality issues. By using real-time machine health and process data, CPGs can continuously improve OEE, keep machines running in peak condition and make informed decisions that make processes more efficient.

It’s important to note that the flexibility and scalability of floor-to-cloud solutions make it possible for CPGs of any size and stage of digital transformation to optimize packaging operations. CPGs can start with one machine, line or facility and prove ROI, starting small and scaling fast.

To identify key areas of opportunity, collaborate with an automation provider with a comprehensive portfolio of devices, hardware and analytics software. They can help develop and apply a complete solution that addresses a CPG’s specific goals and challenges.

Drive Continuous Improvement

A floor-to-cloud approach to packaging automation gives manufacturers real-time visibility and control that optimize packaging operations from multiple directions. By accessing trapped data and using those insights, manufacturers can increase machine availability, reduce energy and resource waste, improve OEE and reach their most ambitious goals.