Robert Smith – Managing Director of Columbus Precision Mouldings, explores the importance of protecting high value fragile components during work in progress with reusable/returnable protective packaging.
Increasing risk of damage
As components progress through the manufacturing and assembly process, they face an increasing risk of damage the more they are transported and handled. Their journey may simply be from one production line to another within the same plant, perhaps they will be stacked and stored temporarily prior to their final use, or maybe they will be shipped off to different plant locations for assembly or undergo further process stages before being completed.
Any damage to parts has a direct cost implication; it increases the overall component quantity per finished unit. However, it also has a much deeper potential impact as manufacturers continue to push for greater efficiencies and ever more sophisticated approaches.
Lean manufacturing, just-in-time supply chains and mass customisation mean Operations are continually under pressure to eliminate wastage and save time. In the drive to carry as little excess inventory as possible – both on the balance sheet and in the warehouse – damage to any parts can have cascading implications throughout a business.
As well as the cost of replacing the scrapped parts, delivery commitments may be broken, manufacturing cycles might have to be replanned and rescheduled, and in extreme cases it can cause plant downtime and even lost contracts. The potential damage to bottom lines and reputations is considerable.
Damage risk depends on the nature of the parts/components
Any kind of component could suffer damage while being transported or stored if it is not packaged safely and securely. The damage risk depends on the nature of the parts themselves.
Precision machined parts exposed to impact, shock or vibration may knock together causing dents, scratches or deformation to smooth faces.
Electrical items may see a static charge build up posing a threat from electrostatic discharge.
All kinds of material may suffer from excess humidity or condensation. In many sectors, items performing an aesthetic role on the exterior of the final product must remain completely unblemished.
Foreign object damage (FOD) is a continual threat in the manufacture and assembly of complex engineering and efforts to preserve a clean assembly environment are wasted if components bring dust and grit in with them.
It may not always be immediately obvious when a part is damaged, especially with more complex items, and discovering faults later in the assembly process is a nasty and costly surprise.
Protection against damage
The solution comes through using correct protective packaging. Damage during transportation or storage is avoided by designing the packaging solution to suit the component type, its particular vulnerabilities and the process’s logistics.
Design for manufacture and assembly (DFMA) focusses on producing components that meet demanding targets for cost, time and sustainability. However, these gains can be lost by failing to adequately protect them between process stages. Creating packaging for this specific role is not just another cost but provides a real ROI.
By holding individual items apart from each other and preventing them from moving inside the container, they are protected and can still be handled in quantity.
Conductive packaging materials prevent static charge build up. Packaging can be formed to hold delicate items in place and at the same time withstand impact, vibration and pressure when stacked for storage. Stock taking is also made more efficient by standardising packing quantities and configurations and making labelling easy.
Reusable/returnable protective packaging
Disposable packaging materials are costly and wasteful and of course add to a business’s carbon footprint. Reusable and returnable packaging has a much longer life span and should also be recyclable afterwards.
Well-designed component packaging also brings productivity gains.
Where handling within a process represents unwelcome labour-intensive tasks, returnable and reusable bespoke packaging can help improve time and motion. Assembly and disassembly of the packaging items themselves can be eliminated. In certain uses, it will also support process automation by standardising how components are positioned within their containers.
Helping reduce manufacturing costs
Columbus is helping customers reduce manufacturing costs, time delays and protect their reputations by providing bespoke packaging solutions that prevent damage to components during work in progress. We view every project as an opportunity to help our customers achieve measurable improvements, productivity gains and significant environmental benefits.