Crest Ink - Volume 32 - Number 04 & Volume 33 - Number 01

Automation in Contract Packaging has been a major initiative for Crest over the past year. While the concept of automating our production processes has always been attractive, the reality of implementing major automation proj- ects has always been a little tricky since we seldom know the long term forecast for much of our volume. The key for us being able to automate lies in finding the right combination of long term commitments on volume and sourcing flexible automation that is able to be utilized in a number of different applications. Much effort has been invested in making these conditions a reality and the results have been fantastic. Automation investments have resulted in 54 positions being saved across three shifts with many of these positions being the most physically demanding in the plant. Even better, no jobs were actually eliminated since our demand is extremely high and the labor market is very tight…so we were able to shift these positions to other areas allowing us to better support our customers’ large demand levels. The changes seen around packaging have been wide-spread...robotic stacking on 3 lines – pouch transfers on 4 lines – case packers on 4 lines – robotic pouch placing on 1 line – automated sleeving on 1 line. Many people have played a role in bringing this automation from concept to reality. Thanks to Denton Yocum, Rick Rice, Jeff Karas, Cody Brill, Brian Beckman, Matthias Kemmeren and Brent Warner for sourcing out equipment and setting it up in the plant. In addition, the Purchasing Department played a big role in keeping projects on schedule in a very dif- ficult supply market and numerous line operators and line mechanics had to learn to work with a whole new set of new and sometimes complicated equipment. The end result is that we are in a much better position as a company due to the efforts to bring more automation to our production process…we run more effectively, we limit our need for more employees in a tough labor market, we make our jobs less physically demanding and we are in a better position than ever to service our customers. No one knows what the production floor at Crest will look like in the years to come, but there is little doubt we will continue to take advantage of technology improvements that enhance the quality of work on the production floor. Automation in Contract Packaging by Jeff Meiners

16 Crest Ink October, November, December 2020 & January, February, March 2021

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