Industry 4.0 and mail order: How Automated Packaging Systems has futureproofed for its customers

Everyone is talking about Industry 4.0. Talking about the changes that technology is bringing, primarily to engineering and manufacturing and how organisations can keep up with the evolution.

Online retail has been on a steep trajectory for the last decade with online sales last year tipping the £133bn mark. Coupled with the fourth industrial revolution, online retail is becoming more sophisticated both in its profiling of customers and its dispatching processes. It’s important to consider key areas where digital advances are being made and how this can help online retailers.

Autobag PS 125 OneStep Tabletop bagger labeling a mail bag1. Existing Technololgy

APS has a strong background in aerospace, honing our skills over a 30 year period. Being able to trace the precise source and batch of a product along with being able to account for every item is vital for aviation maintenance or aerospace production, with traceability of paramount importance.

We’re now seeing a trend for this level of reporting and data to be used more broadly in commercial sectors with existing bagging technology from the aerospace sector such as bag feeding and loading as well as labelling proving a close match to the modern needs of e-commerce.

2. Control Units

Touch control screen of the Autobag 850S Bagging SystemsTouch screen is a commonplace technology for consumer products, as is the android operating system, however touch screen control units have featured on APS’s product lines for nearly 15 years – we were early adopters of the technology.

Using this recognisable method, organisations that use a number of temporary workers during peak times find that because the control units are user friendly and easy to use, minimal training time is required, therefore keeping their output high.

Autobag 850S Bagging System Capability - Next Bag Out3. Next-Bag-Out

Autobag 850S™, one of our latest baggers, provides enhanced packaging productivity for mail order fulfilment applications. Not only does it feature bag opening technology, but also next-bag-out printing. This is achieved with an advanced thermal transfer imprinter positioned directly over the next bag to be loaded. The technology takes the code from the label and sends it to the production area to let them know that the order is being packed. This ensures accuracy and efficiency in fulfilment applications that require frequent product and label changeovers, and prevents product queuing.

4. Coding

Cell phone QR Reader reading a QR codeWe’ve been offering barcodes on packing for years, before most customers even required it. We wanted to be ready when the demand grew. More recently, we’ve started offering QR code technology that integrates with warehouse management systems (WMS). Customers can print labels that correspond with, and can be read by, WMS systems further down the supply chain. While not widely used yet, the technology is available as demand increases.

Rapid developments in Industry 4.0 is bringing change to the packaging industry, with coding and labelling enabling businesses to differentiate and fast track their operational logistics to deliver both high quality products and a positive customer experience.

Priding itself as being at the forefront of technology in the industry, APS has futureproofed its solutions and it’s only now that these other elements are catching up with the existing capabilities, integrating with these elements and propelling into the retail mainstream.

While these technical advances are changing the industry, crucial to the success of any business is combining modern technologies with a solid background of good service and an understanding of the clients’ needs, whether current or projected in the future.

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