When it comes to the end of the year and the big seasonal push in the food, manufacturing and distribution sectors, businesses traditionally brace themselves for heavy staff shortages. Figures released ahead of the last 10-12 weeks of the year reveal that 43% of labour providers state they will struggle to cope with demand this Christmas due to lack of staff.

With both Black Friday and Cyber Mondays increasing demand even further due to the high peak in sales on these days, businesses are being advised to look towards the latest packaging technology as a way of coping with a lack of staff on the factory floor.

Growing sales and higher demand

It has been reported that while the high street will be feeling the pinch again this festive period, the food and e-commerce sectors will be making the most gains. According to market research company Mintel, compared with December 2017, total spending is set to rise 4%, reaching nearly £48bn excluding VAT.

When these figures are examined in more detail, they reveal that food sales will grow by 3.3% to £18.6bn. Online orders will continue to rise by a further 14% to £5.6bn, which accounts for almost 12% of all retail spending. This will place higher expectation for manufacturers and distributors to keep up with the pace of demand, which calls for a new approach to the type of packaging machinery being used during this period.

Christmas packaging solutions

Rather than placing further pressure on the business by rushing to hire more staff at peak times during the year, companies should look towards sustainable alternatives. Modernised packaging machinery is beginning to emerge as the long-term solution businesses have been hoping to find for quite some time.

They are able to play a key role in speeding up the packing process in a way that will allow companies to meet demand even with a smaller rota of available staff. This can be seen in the technology that features case erectors which are able to handle flat packed boxes and build them up. Or, how pallet wrappers have the ability to maximise the amount of stretch film being put to use.

The knock-on effect is these machines will reduce the amount of materials being used, while saving on warehouse space and labour expenditure. When these benefits are enjoyed at a time when sales are sky high, the business is able to increase profit margins to really get the most out of their inventory.

There are even automated packaging machines available that can build, fill, fold and label boxes around any product to match its exact dimensions. This takes place in a single process, instantly making the supply chain more efficient. There will no longer be a requirement to add savings and void-fill on materials, all the while saving time and reducing the amount of man-hours used to complete the job.

Planning for the future

Much of this comes down to the ongoing advancements made in automated packaging technology over the past few years. By making an investment into these sort of machines it removes the need to bring a raft of new employees on board to deal with the festive rush. This also means the usual training programme is no longer a requirement as the packaging machine slots seamlessly into the existing processes.

These are just some of the advantages businesses across the UK will be able to enjoy as the technology improves year on year. Online shopping will only continue to grow, and the need to find cost-effective and sustainable solutions becomes an ever-pressing issue for manufacturers and distributors. New packaging machines appear to hold the answer, changing and improving the way many industries cope with seasonal peaks.