Ways to Optimize Your Tray Packaging for Increased Productivity and Quality

Trays are often used throughout the food industry to support distribution. Yet, packaging lines aren’t always optimized for tray packing, which increases the likelihood of downtime and quality issues that will impact revenue and increase risk.


Just like with regular slotted containers or any other packaging type, tray packing requires careful consideration of your machinery to meet your production goals and manage any inherent EOL packaging challenges. You need machinery that will handle your speed requirements, is flexible enough to support frequent changeovers or complex recipes, and can ensure quality standards are met. 


We will share some common reasons why trays are used for food packaging and how to optimize your packaging line to meet your needs and desired productivity and efficiency. 


Common Uses of Trays in Secondary Packaging


Trays serve a similar purpose to other types of secondary packaging. They are instrumental in the food industry as they offer convenience and flexibility to meet consumer preferences.  An example of this is a three-sided display tray in club stores. Here are some common reasons why trays are often the preferred packaging method for food producers:


  • Distribution and stacking
  • Flexible sizing and material selection 
  • Sustainable packaging and reduced corrugated waste
  • Branding consistency and promotional opportunities 


Trays offer versatility and flexibility while providing a protective barrier for your primary package against various threats that could impact quality. As consumer preferences evolve, trays offer a viable and flexible alternative to other packaging options. 


Selecting the appropriate tray design and materials will go a long way in optimizing your entire packaging process for tray packing. Still, you will also want to consider the machinery you use for packaging and distribution, how you maintain your tray packing equipment, and potential bottlenecks to realize all possible benefits fully. 


5 Ways to Optimize Your Tray Packaging


Selecting the right tray packing equipment or enhancing your existing tray packer with an appropriate maintenance schedule can streamline the production process and improve your line. These improvements can help you increase productivity and customer satisfaction while maintaining quality.


Here are five ways you can increase tray packaging line efficiency and boost performance:


  1. Consider Automation if You Haven’t Already Made the Switch


Manual packing processes increase the likelihood of adverse quality events, bottlenecks, and worker safety issues. Automated tray packers excel in high-speed environments and can run 24/7 with your exact configurations, which will exponentially increase productivity. Tray packers can also be customized to support quality control through vision-guided robotics, weight scales, and other tools. Additionally, automation can help you reduce floor congestion and prevent safety issues. 


Whatever your specific needs or constraints, you can find a tailored automated solution that will help you meet your production goals. Many tray packers are available, including the Gantry 300 for simpler, heavier product loads, such as a three-sided club store display and quick changeovers, or the Spider 100V with vision-guided robotics for maximum versatility and enhanced quality control. We can work with you to choose the right machinery for your tray packaging and processes.


  1. Keep Tray Packing Machinery in Optimal Condition


If you have already made the switch to automation, your job isn’t done. Just with any equipment, you should adhere to the recommended maintenance schedule and make any repairs as soon as possible to prevent more significant issues down the road. For example, your tray packaging machines may encounter problems that cause them to lose efficiency and slow the entire packaging process. These issues may even lead to improper packing of the trays.


It’s essential to keep your tray packers in optimal condition and take preventative measures to avoid problems. This can save on repair time and costs and ensure that the quality of the packing process stays constant. One way to prevent regular issues is by scrutinizing all parts and materials in the tray packaging process. Improper or damaged material can cause problems in your tray packers that require additional troubleshooting later.

Investing in proper training can also keep your tray packers in optimal condition. Employees should be able to handle the equipment and calibrate the machine with various materials. In the Americas, we even offer aftermarket services, like our Asset Health and Reliability Program (AHRP), to help our customers optimize their system performance and increase the longevity of their secondary packaging equipment. 


  1. Reduce Downtime from Changeovers


Your tray packaging machinery is made with state-of-the-art technology and is highly reliable. However, once downtime occurs, productivity decreases drastically.


Downtime can occur when changing over from one product recipe to another. Opting for machines with quick changeovers can optimize the entire packaging process. Again, this is where our automated tray packers excel, as they are designed for fast changeovers and are versatile enough to handle most products and flavors from the same line. 


  1. Avoid Bottlenecks


Bottlenecks or congestion anywhere in your tray packaging line will reduce the efficiency of the entire packaging process. 


These bottlenecks can cause problems in the tray packaging machinery.


To avoid bottlenecks and boost efficiency, it’s important to synchronize your automated tray packing machinery with your upstream filling equipment and ensure they work as one unit. Accumulation can also enable you to prevent bottlenecks and ensure your tray packaging machinery continues to run.


  1. Re-evaluate Your Strategy From Time to Time


It’s essential to evaluate your production and packaging strategy after some time. Lean Manufacturing, Six Sigma, and other process improvement methodologies stress regular assessments to support optimization. 


Analyzing data from the packaging line and consulting with your various operations teams can help you understand how to improve processes and identify where any issues exist.


By constantly evaluating data, empowering operators to speak up about issues they observe, and working toward continuous improvement, you can identify and solve any problems slowing down production and brainstorm ideas to boost productivity and efficiency.


Wrapping Up


BluePrint Automation provides customized solutions for your tray packaging problems to turn your dream of optimization into reality. Whether you’re considering automation or need to synchronize your machines with your processes, we can develop a unique fix tailored to your business.


If you’re ready to optimize your tray packaging, contact BluePrint Automation today.

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