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How to Speed Up Your Packaging Operations

The last couple of years have been… well, challenging to say the least. Since the WHO declared a pandemic in March 2020, life just hasn’t been the same.

For most of us, it’ll never be the same again. And for some of us, so much has been lost. 

But, amid all the heartache, some people have taken stock of their lives and decided to start their own businesses – in fact, some 375,000 new businesses launched in the UK before the end of 2020.

If you’re one of those new business owners entering this brave new world, you might be looking for the best way to package your product. A fast, simple solution that (quite literally) doesn’t cost the Earth.

Let’s show you how to speed up your packaging operations as a small, fledgling business.

Packaging materials flat-lay. A roll of brown tape is placed on some boxes, stacked and arranged in a fan shape.

How to Set Up a Packaging Workstation

If you’re working solo or as part of a small team, a packaging workstation is going to be a real help for managing your operation. You won’t need much to start – but by having an organised space with everything in easy reach, your packaging will feel faster than ever. 

Here’s some key things to get you started.

First, Know Your Product: What’s the Best Packaging for it?

No matter what you’re selling and shipping, you’ll need the right packaging solution for it to make sure it gets to the customer as intended.

For some products, a simple cardboard box will suffice – and they’re easy to brand up with stickers or tape. Protection from shakes and bumps can be provided by void fillers (recycled paper or shredded recycled cardboard are alternatives to traditional packing peanuts).

Others might prefer to use custom die cut cardboard, for a more bespoke and premium look that makes the product the centre of attention.

But you should consider polythene layflat tubing (LFT), especially if your products need further protection from moisture (or dryness), or need a thin protective barrier. It’s also one of the best ways to speed up your packaging operations without automation.

LFT is a continuous, seamless tube of plastic packaging, wound flat onto a roll. You can get it in more or less any width, and it can be cut to length – great for a varied product line. It can be used to package just about anything: from clothing and toys, to food and perishables (with the right blend).

Read more – learn how to use layflat polythene tubing.

LFT is an easy, lightning-fast way to package your products without machinery, because it simply unrolls to length: just place your product inside the tube and seal off the ends.

It can be tinted and printed on, with custom branding for a professional look. A heat sealer can give a watertight, professional-looking result. This all means it’ll look great on its own – but it can also be used in combination with any other form of packaging, where additional protection is required.

And just like cardboard, polythene LFT can be fully recycled. It can be made from recycled polythene, too, depending on the final use.

Use a Workbench

Once you have your packaging materials, you’ll need a place to use them.

A large, flat surface that you can work on, either seated or standing, should be your next purchase. Some companies make modular workbench systems, specifically for packing operations, with handy compartments and height adjustment built-in.

Alternatively, use a large standing desk – with a few modifications, you can achieve a similar result.

If you’re using pre-cut or creased cardboard, store the flat nets in easy to reach compartments. Keep your other packing essentials, like tape measures, fillers and box cutter to hand in compartments, too. Keep your packaging tape on a dispenser, or use a tape gun to build and seal boxes quickly.

If you’re using LFT or polythene shrink wrap, we’d advise that you invest in a dispenser and a heat sealer to speed up your packing process. While you can use a guillotine and tape (or just tuck the ends of the LFT in), a heat sealer gives a nice finish and cuts to length at the same time.

Depending on the widths you need, a dispenser can hold several rolls of LFT at once, in different widths and thicknesses – so you can consolidate your packing efforts to a single workstation.

An Efficient Production Line System

You’ll soon learn tricks for the most efficient way to package your products – like partially building as many boxes as you need to fulfil an order run. It might take some trial and error, but you’ll arrive at a production line system that fits you and your business before too long.

In the meantime, an excellent way to keep your time in check is by tracking orders at the point of packaging. By setting up a computer and a touchscreen or tablet at your workstation, with access to your stock and order management system, you can check off orders as they are packed.

You’ll see at a glance what you need to do next; see what stock items you need more of and track your orders without having to retrace your steps. This will save you lots of time as your business grows, so make sure you’ve got something like this in place.

As a bonus, it means customers can get automatic updates when their product is ready to ship – and that’ll win you lots of fans.

Bespoke Packaging Solutions – from NPF Packaging

Premium packaging solutions at great prices, from NPF Packaging. Order our fully recyclable polythene layflat tubing – printed, tinted and specified to your exact requirement.

Get a quote now, or call us on 01773 820415.