The Process Of Automating Your Packaging – Which Key Steps Are Involved?

Written by Tony Hacker

The idea of automating packaging can seem daunting at first, however by taking the right steps and seeking the right support, it doesn’t need to be. With the clear benefits that automated packaging solutions offer, it’s important for your business to consider which opportunities there are for improving your production lines. In this article, we’ll break down the key steps involved in the process to provide you with clarity and a path towards process optimisation.


Assessing & Getting a True Understanding of Your Current Systems

The first step in automating your packaging process is to assess your current systems thoroughly. This involves identifying pain points, bottlenecks, and areas for improvement. Understanding the intricacies of your existing packaging process is crucial for designing a tailored automation solution that addresses specific needs and challenges within the business, whilst avoiding exacerbating underlying problems that you may otherwise not have discovered.

The support of an automation expert here can ensure that you are looking for the right markers and in turn help you to build a strong foundation for the rest of the process.


Customisation and Ensuring That The Right Areas Are Automated For Your Business

Automation is not a one-size-fits-all solution, and there are many possibilities that might not even suit your business’s structure. It’s therefore essential to ensure that the automation technology you choose aligns with your business goals, objectives, and underlying needs. Taking the time to work with somebody who can align your packaging systems with the rest of your business allows you to automate the right tasks that will have the most impact, whether it’s:

  • Primary packaging
  • Secondary packaging
  • Labelling
  • Palletising
  • Quality control


Equipment Selection

As you might expect, there’s a huge variety of automation machinery to choose from when it comes to packaging. Selecting equipment that integrates seamlessly with your existing systems and meets your production requirements is key to a successful automation implementation. It’s important to remember that only once you have audited your existing packaging lines can you understand which equipment is going to support your needs moving forwards.

Some examples of packaging equipment include:

  • Robotic palletisers
  • Automated case packers
  • Box machines
  • Labelling machines
  • Filling machines

Preparing Your Site For Change

Preparing your site for automation involves assessing space requirements, making necessary infrastructure upgrades, and ensuring compliance with safety regulations. This step creates a conducive environment for the installation and operation of automated packaging equipment, and planning ahead of time allows this to be a smooth transition within your operations.


Implementation & Installation

Once the groundwork has been laid, it’s time for implementation and installation. This stage involves installing the selected automation equipment, integrating it with your existing systems, and conducting thorough testing to ensure everything operates smoothly. Whilst there can be a number of moving parts to this stage, utilising the right expertise removes the headache and simplifies the process for your business.



Proper training is crucial for ensuring the successful adoption of automation technology. Training your staff on how to operate and maintain the automated packaging equipment is essential for maximising efficiency and productivity on a consistent basis. As with anything new, providing people with the opportunity to become familiar with new systems is an effective way to ensure the business truly gets the most out of them.


Preventative Maintenance

Regular maintenance is fundamental to keeping your automation equipment running smoothly and minimising downtime. One advantage of automation systems is that preventative maintenance technology can be used to help identify and address potential issues before they escalate, ensuring continuous operation and maximum uptime. The ongoing maintenance and optimisation of your equipment should always be factored into every stage.


Start Taking Advantage Of Better Efficiency With Your New Systems

Once the necessary packaging processes have been automated, you can start reaping the benefits of improved efficiency and productivity. Automated packaging systems allow for faster production speeds, reduced errors, and enhanced quality control, ultimately leading to cost savings and increased competitiveness in the market.


Automating your packaging process can be a game-changer for food manufacturers looking to stay ahead in today’s competitive market. By following the key steps outlined in this article, you can streamline your operations, improve efficiency, and achieve greater success. If you’re ready to take the next step towards automation, we invite you to book a free appointment to discuss your automation needs and explore how we can help transform your packaging process. Don’t let complexity hold you back – embrace automation and unlock your full potential today.

Food Manufacturing In 2024 – Raising The Bar

Written by Tony Hacker

The food manufacturing industry here in the UK is extremely competitive, and staying ahead of the curve is not just a strategy but a necessity. As we move into 2024, the landscape is still evolving at an unprecedented rate, and businesses need to rethink their approach towards every aspect of the production process.

As mentioned in a recent article, packaging is a stage that can often be overlooked, despite it holding a number of opportunities for the improvement of your business. So in today’s article, we’ll delve deeper into the transformative power of packaging automation, relating specifically to food manufacturers who are not only looking to keep up with the growing industry, but who aim to increase their market share and outpace competition in the near future.


Why Does The Bar Need To Be Raised?

Not only does your business need to continue generating a healthy profit, it also faces constant challenges that could seriously impact your ability to stay afloat. Whilst there’s obviously a broad spectrum of considerations that need to be made, here are a few that will take centre stage in 2024 and the next 5-10 years:


  • Food hygiene – there is relentless pressure on food manufacturers to provide safe products that withstand the wear and tear of transportation and supermarket shelves. At a time where food health regulations continue to get stricter, ensuring the quality and longevity of your food product is so important.


  • A growing population – the UK population alone is projected to grow by more than 2.1 million in the next 10 years, leaving food manufacturers with increasing demand. That’s all well and good if the business can handle it, but failing to keep up or to maintain quality could see you suffocated by competitors.


  • Increasing costs – you don’t need us to say it, but costs are increasing everywhere you look. Costs for ingredients, costs for staff, costs for energy, costs for materials – it’s all going up and it doesn’t want to stop. It’s crucial to your success as a business that when and where you can, costs are cut.


Involving Packaging Automation At The Right Time

The key to all of these issues lies in utilising packaging automation at the right time, which we’ve seen have profound impacts on the costs of businesses and their ability to increase output without losing quality.


Uncompromised Food Hygiene

Packaging plays a pivotal role in ensuring the quality and longevity of food items, especially during transportation and shelf life. Often, it’s external influences that sees food items go to waste – whether it’s something getting into the product that shouldn’t, or damage to the product that makes it unsellable.

By embracing packaging automation early in your processes and taking advantage of the deep knowledge and insight that automation experts can provide, you not only meet regulatory standards but also elevate the hygiene and safety profile of your products. Automation ensures consistency and precision, reducing the risk of damage and contamination and safeguarding your brand’s reputation.


Meeting the Demands of a Growing Population

Keeping up with escalating demand can be a tricky challenge, but it doesn’t need to be. Plus, as mentioned above, succeeding to do so establishes you as a leader in a competitive market.

Packaging automation allows for scalable and efficient processes, ensuring that your production line is equipped to handle increased demands seamlessly. Proactive technology can even help you to manage any seasonal changes quickly without wasting costs on unnecessary output. By automating packaging, you not only maintain product quality regardless of increases in output, but also position your business to thrive amidst intensifying competition.


Mitigating the Impact of Rising Costs

The relentless rise in costs across numerous elements of production poses a significant threat to your business’s profitability. In such a climate, cost-cutting becomes a crucial aspect of sustaining success. This is where manual packaging systems can create serious issues, preventing the business from scaling effectively.

Involving packaging automation experts as early as possible in your process enables your business to take advantage of important technologies that prove instrumental in reducing labour costs, minimising material wastage, and optimising your resources. By implementing automation solutions, you are able to enhance operational efficiency and create an effective buffer against the financial strains posed by increasing costs.


In the face of evolving challenges like stringent food hygiene regulations, a growing population, and escalating costs, food manufacturers need proactive strategies in order to survive. Packaging automation is a powerful tool, addressing these issues head-on. Early involvement of packaging automation and collaboration with packaging experts position your business to raise the bar and set the standard in the competitive UK market.

Hidden Packaging Opportunities That Are More Achievable That You Might Think

Written by Tony Hacker

Competition, increasing costs, and fluctuating demand create the need to optimise profits across the business and take advantage of innovative solutions that streamline operations and continue to allow for growth. One area that often goes overlooked is packaging automation. By leveraging advanced technologies and automated processes, manufacturers can unlock a number of hidden opportunities that can revolutionise the whole business.

In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the vast potential of packaging automation and how it can transform manufacturing operations in ways you may not have considered before.


The Power of Packaging Automation

Packaging automation involves the integration of advanced technologies such as robotics, artificial intelligence, and predictive maintenance to improve efficiency, accuracy, and speed throughout your processes. By automating packaging processes, manufacturers can achieve significant advantages that go beyond traditional manual methods. Let’s take a look at some of the hidden opportunities that packaging automation presents for manufacturers.


Achieving Seamless Maintenance with Predictive Technology

One of the key advantages of packaging automation is the ability to achieve a seamless maintenance strategy, through the implementation of predictive technology. Predictive maintenance utilises data analytics and machine learning algorithms to predict and prevent equipment failures before they even occur.

By continuously monitoring machine performance and analysing data in real-time, manufacturers can proactively identify potential issues and schedule maintenance activities to avoid costly downtime. This not only improves overall equipment effectiveness but also extends the lifespan of packaging machinery, resulting in substantial cost savings.


Near Zero Waste

Sustainability has become a top priority for many consumers, and as such, many manufacturers across all industries. Packaging automation plays a crucial role in helping businesses achieve their sustainability goals by minimising waste.

These automated systems are designed to optimise material usage, reduce packaging waste, and ensure precise packaging measurements. By eliminating human error and optimising every step of the packaging process, manufacturers can significantly reduce the amount of waste generated during production. This not only benefits the environment but also improves operational efficiency and cost-effectiveness.


Improved Inventory Management With Demand Forecasting

Accurate demand forecasting is vital for efficient inventory management. Packaging automation enables manufacturers to gather and analyse real-time data on consumer demand, market trends, and production capacity. By leveraging this data, manufacturers can make informed decisions and optimise inventory levels ahead of time.

Being able to respond swiftly to changes in demand enables businesses to reduce excess inventory and avoid stockouts, improving customer satisfaction, reducing carrying costs, and resulting in enhanced profitability.


Up To 600% More Output

Automation has the potential to revolutionise productivity in manufacturing and improve output more than many businesses might think. By implementing the right packaging automation, manufacturers can achieve remarkable increases in output; according to research, automated packaging systems can deliver up to 600% more output compared to manual processes.

Automated machines can operate at high speeds without compromising on quality, allowing manufacturers to meet growing demands and scale production capabilities. Increased productivity translates to higher profitability and a competitive edge in the market.

Becoming a Sustainable Organisation

Sustainability is not just about minimising waste; it’s about adopting a holistic approach to environmental protection. Packaging automation enables manufacturers to become more sustainable organisations by reducing their carbon footprint, conserving energy, and optimising resource usage.

Automated packaging systems can be designed to minimise energy consumption, utilise eco-friendly materials, and optimise packaging designs for more efficient transportation. By embracing sustainable practices, manufacturers can enhance their brand image, attract environmentally conscious customers, and contribute to a greener future.


Maximising Profit Margins Thanks To Optimised Cost-Effectiveness

Packaging automation offers manufacturers the opportunity to maximise profit margins by improving cost-effectiveness throughout the manufacturing process. Automated packaging systems reduce labour costs, which can account for up to 60% of packaging costs, by minimising the need for manual intervention.

Additionally, automation optimises packaging material usage, reducing waste and material costs. By streamlining packaging processes, manufacturers can achieve higher operational efficiency, reduce overhead expenses, and improve their bottom line. Maximising profit margins allows manufacturers to invest in research and development, innovation, and business growth for the long term. With an average ROI of around 9 months, packaging automation machines quickly become a profitable investment.


Packaging Automation

If you’re ready to explore the potential of packaging automation for your business, you can see how we help to uncover cost-saving opportunities here. Our experts can support you at any stage of the packaging automation process, whether you require a systems audit, advice, or supply and tailored setup.

Packaging Solutions That Scale Your Business – Insight From An Expert

Written by Tony Hacker

In the ever-changing landscape of modern business, packaging isn’t just about enclosing a product. It’s a strategic tool that can shape your brand identity, influence customer perceptions, and drive growth. As a packaging specialist for more than a decade, I’ve witnessed first-hand how businesses can transform their operations by adopting the right packaging solutions that are best suited to their product and process.


The Role Packaging Plays In The Growth Of Manufacturing Businesses

Your product is not just what’s inside the box; it’s the entire package. Effective packaging goes beyond protecting your goods – it communicates your brand message and establishes a connection with your customers. The first touchpoint with consumers often occurs through your packaging, making it crucial in shaping the customer experience.

A thoughtful packaging system sets the stage for continuous business scalability not only as a result of this improved customer perception that leads to higher lifetime value, but also thanks to its ability to streamline profit margins.


Challenges With Traditional Packaging

Traditional packaging methods come with their set of challenges. Manual processes prone to human error can lead to inconsistencies and quality issues. What’s more is that, as businesses grow, the limitations of scalability become apparent, hindering efficiency and increasing operational costs.

The more your packaging systems rely on manual processes, the more complexity is involved with changing or growing the system in future, which often prevents swift adaptation to new standards, requirements, or designs. This inability is what leads to difficulties in developing your product and increasing your output as your business grows.


An Expert’s Perspective On Packaging Automation

Now let’s take a look into the most important tool for creating a packaging process that doesn’t face these issues – automation. Having worked with many large manufacturers across the UK, I’ve witnessed the transformative power of automation in addressing the shortcomings of traditional packaging. Automation isn’t just a buzzword; it’s a strategic approach that can revolutionise your operations.

From reducing errors to ensuring consistent quality and output, packaging automation is a game-changer for businesses aiming to scale effectively, providing you with:

  • Precision and consistency that eliminates much of the human error that often holds systems back.
  • Cost-efficiency thanks to significant waste reductions and reduced labour costs.
  • Improved output that not only minimises delays but enhances the quality of your packaging and overall product.
  • Adaptability that lends itself to developing larger-scale systems and better packaging design for your products.


Implementing the right packaging solutions can be a catalyst for your business’s growth. As we’ve seen, packaging isn’t simply a means to an end; it’s a powerful tool that can drive brand success. By understanding the importance of packaging in business growth, acknowledging the challenges of traditional methods, and embracing the modern perspective on packaging automation, you can position your business for sustained success.

If you’re ready to explore packaging solutions tailored to your business needs, I invite you to connect with me on LinkedIn here, where I’ll continue to share free information and tips on optimising your packaging processes, enhancing your brand, and building a system for long-term success.

Frontline Packaging designs and manufactures new case packing machine

Frontline Packaging Limited has recently completed the installation and commissioning of a major, innovative new packaging line for ethical, fair-trade tea producer Clipper Teas. Tony Hacker, MD at Frontline Packaging explains why this is an exciting project for the business. “It’s a first for Frontline Packaging in many ways and represents the development of the business into the design and manufacture of a new case packing machine, as well as the supply of complete end-of-line packaging systems. We’re very happy with the way it went, we handled the whole project in-house and it has worked extremely well since the day it was commissioned.”

Boosting tag and bag tea production capacity

Due to an increase in business, particularly from the export market, Clipper needed to increase their production capacity for string & tag tea. This led to the purchase of an additional tea machine to manufacture the tea bags which in turn created the need for a whole new packaging line to pack the tea cartons in to perforated shelf-ready cases. The line needed to produce and pack a wide selection of case collations including cartons containing many different flavours.

It was a complex project and Clipper chose Frontline Packaging Ltd because it displayed a clear understanding of the brief and had performed well when it previously supplied and installed four automatic shrink-wrapping systems and a pallet stretch wrapper. Frontline initially surveyed the application and proposed a complete solution for packing the tea cartons from the point where they exit from the tea bag making machine.

Designing the system

Frontline designed and manufactured the case packer and conveyors and supplied a carton closer, case erector, case sealer and print & apply labeller. It then installed and commissioned the complete system and co-ordinated the whole project through in-house project management. It also worked closely with Clipper to ensure the design of the cases worked efficiently within the new system.

There were a number of specific technical challenges that had to be overcome with this project, and this is where Frontline was able to add value with its knowledge and experience of end-of-line packaging and specifically case-packing applications.

Technical challenges

The main challenge was to place the rectangular cartons into the case without clashing with the open case flaps. A Universal Robot supplied by R.A. Rodriguez was chosen for this part of the task because it allowed Frontline to tilt the collations of cartons to deflect the top flaps of the case and therefore avoid any clash.

Another key challenge was to orientate the cartons into the right position for packing, which required three ninety-degree rotations as they travel through the system. Each rotation had to be consistent and reliable to ensure the cartons were delivered in the correct orientation to the next stage of the process.

At the heart of the system is the case packer and the collaborative Universal Robot was key to its design. It was chosen because it works well in a more compact machine. It is specifically designed to allow enhanced and safe human/robot collaborative working – making it easier and safer to use in areas with limited space. It also has a very easy to understand, intuitive touch-pad control system, which allows the customer to easily modify or create programmes.

The combination of these features allowed the machine to fit into the limited space available and to be adapted easily to the varied nature of the application.

The shelf-ready cases posed another challenge. They are particularly long and narrow which makes them difficult to erect, load and seal. A key factor in over-coming this was Frontline’s contribution to the design of the cases and to various features that were incorporated into each machine within the system.

Delivered and working within a week

Steve Norris, Engineering Manager at Clipper Teas, is very happy with how the project went. ” The fact that Frontline had control over the whole of the packaging project is the main reason that it worked so well and was up and running so quickly. This allowed us to concentrate on the tea bag production side of the project, safe in the knowledge that Frontline was taking care of the down-stream equipment. We’re extremely pleased with the system and it’s performing really well and we were particularly impressed that it was up and running so soon after delivery.”

“Another benefit of having Frontline control the whole project was the speed of delivery and commissioning. Delivery of the equipment took place on a Saturday, it was moved into place on Sunday and it was running by Wednesday, followed by commissioning and training being completed on Friday. Since then the system has been extremely reliable and we have already proved its versatility by adding a new format that was not part of the original design brief.”

The success of the project marks another significant milestone for Frontline since its formation in 2012, which now operators from new premises near Cambridge, by showing that it can handle the design and manufacture of its own case packing machines as well as project management of complete systems. This also complements its on-going activities of supplying and supporting a highly regarded product range including case erectors, sealers, shrink wrappers and pallet wrappers.

Frontline Packaging Impresses Customer with Synthesi Pallet Wrapper

A top quality manufacturer of own label breadings, coatings, marinades and powder sauces for the fast food service industry has recently placed an order for  its first turntable pallet stretch wrapper from Frontline Packaging Limited. It was a welcome development for the customer as they were wrapping pallets by hand. As production capacity increased it needed to speed up its pallet wrapping operation and make it more efficient and effective.

Having identified the need to automate its pallet wrapping operation, the customer approached Frontline Packaging for some help choosing the right machine. “Frontline were very helpful and came along to survey the factory and help us work out what we would need to fit in to the current operation,” he explained. “They showed us the Atlanta Synthesi machine which seemed ideal, and we kept it on loan for a week to make sure we were happy with it.”

The customer needed a machine that was compact, easy to install and simple to operate in limited space in the factory. The Synthesi worked really well during the loan period and the customer loved it. “The Synthesi is perfect for those customers taking a first step in to automating their pallet wrapping,” says Tony Hacker, MD of Frontline Packaging. “It’s incredibly well-designed and robust and very straightforward to use. It’s also extremely good value for money and was the perfect solution for this customer to speed up its pallet wrapping operation.”

The customer quickly ordered the machine and it has been working non-stop ever since.

Frontline Packaging beats the competition for the supply of 6 pallet wrapping machines for meat customer

Frontline Packaging Limited has recently completed the supply and installation of six Atlanta Mytho semi automatic pallet wrapping machines at two sites in East Anglia for a well-known meat producer. The Mytho was chosen after extensive trials were run on several competitor machines.

Frontline Packaging Managing Director Tony Hacker explains, “The challenge for this particular application was to find a pallet wrapper that could wrap a wide variety of load sizes and weights without having to make lots of adjustments, whilst minimising the amount of film used. Frontline ran extensive trials with the Mytho wrapper and it beat the competition on all scores. The film weighed less, the wrap was more secure and the machine required very little adjustment. It was an easy decision for the customer in the end.”

The customer is extremely pleased with the new equipment, and told us why. “We were very impressed with the Mytho wrappers supplied by Frontline Packaging. In trials they out-performed the competition against all our criteria. The equipment needed to perform in a very hard-working environment to a very high standard and these machines do just that. They are simple to use, extremely robust and we are delighted with them.”

The Atlanta Mytho supplied by Frontline Packaging Ltd is a high-quality turntable pallet wrapper with a number of standard features that make it ideally suited to challenging applications.  In particular, the Mytho’s PS type film dispenser delivers varying levels of power pre-stretch and lay-on force throughout the wrapping cycle, which allows a wide variety of loads to be secured with the minimum amount of film.  The clear panel provides an easy way to store the settings, and its functions allow the machine to wrap many different types of load without adjustment.

Outstanding Customer Service from FLP

Sheffield-based Home Decor GB Ltd has recently signed up for a regular service agreement with Frontline Packaging Limited to support their large, specially modified shrink wrapper. The agreement includes regular servicing, out-of-hours support.

The shrink wrapping machine was originally purchased by Home Decor in 2012 for wrapping large sliding doors which require a completely enclosed seal on all four sides.  It is a large, complex and technically challenging application and when Frontline Packaging took over the distributorship of the product range, they continued to offer a high level of support to Home Decor to ensure the machine kept working.

‘Tony and the team at Frontline have supported us every step of the way with an excellent service,’ explains Andrew Bowen, Supply Chain Director at Home Decor. ‘It hasn’t always been easy but Frontline have always been willing and able to step in and help whenever we needed it. We really appreciate their level of knowledge and proactive attitude. We’re delighted to have the service agreement in place, it gives us real peace of mind.’

Frontline have helped Home Decor out with machine modifications, parts and equipment and they have worked hard to ensure that the original equipment manufacturer provided technical support as well when necessary.

Frontline Packaging case taper improves line speeds for Berkshire International

Frontline Packaging Limited has recently completed the successful supply and installation of a specially adapted semi-automatic pre-set case taper for Berkshire International at their factory in Norfolk.

The customer was manually packing sheets of industrial cleaning wipes in to extremely large cases and needed to automate the process in order to improve line speeds.  Frontline Packaging offered a loan machine on trial so that Berkshire could see if it was up to the task. ‘Frontline were very accommodating,’ explains Dan Trapnell, Berkshire International Plant Manager. ‘Once we had the machine in the factory we loved it and wanted to keep it. It has helped us speed up the end-of-line packaging process, reduced the amount of boxes on the factory floor and saved us space. We’re really pleased with it.’

The machine needed some bespoke modifications to be able to handle the extra-large case sizes that were carried out by Frontline Packaging’s engineers. A modified infeed was built and clamps fitted to hold the cases steady during packing to allow the operator to fill the cases with both hands. It now takes the operators much less time and effort to pack the cases, and using machine tape has reduced the cost and amount of tape used.

Gary Bond Joins Frontline Team

We’re delighted to announce that Gary Bond has joined the Frontline Packaging team as Sales Manager. Gary comes with a wealth of experience in the packaging industry and an in-depth knowledge of the business through his years working with a variety of manufacturers including flow wrapping, filling systems and end-of-line machinery. He has worked with customers in the food and beverage industry for many years and is excited about the range and quality of Frontline’s machinery offering.

He will be focusing on Frontline’s core product range including shrink wrapping, case taping and erecting and pallet wrapping equipment. He will be offering expert help and advice to customers and prospective customers around the UK.

If you want to contact Gary you can email him on or phone on 07713 136273 and he’ll be happy to help