The world of packaging is and always has been a dynamic and fast changing environment but new challenges such as the global pandemic changing the way we work, how has the industry adapted to the changing landscape and the critical issues facing manufacturers and logistic operations in the new normal in which we are all forced to operate.

Duncan Hall
UKI APS Commercial Leader at APS

We caught up with Duncan Hall UKI APS Commercial Director for Automated Packaging Systems, now part of Sealed Air to find out how they were addressing their customers’ needs and developing new solutions fit the demands of an ever changing business environment.

What products and services does your company offer?

Since 1962, Automated Packaging Systems has been a world leader in the design and manufacture of flexible packaging systems. As the inventor of the Autobag® bagging machines and pre-opened bags-on-a-roll, Automated Packaging Systems has a history of innovation in the packaging industry. The company also manufactures SidePouch® speciality bags and AirPouch® protective packaging. Automated Packaging Systems Ltd was recently acquired by Sealed Air, the original inventor of Bubble Wrap®.

This acquisition is a significant step forward for Automated Packaging Systems, giving its customers access to Sealed Air’s impressive portfolio of packaging products and bringing together two organisations which have long been regarded as pioneers of the packaging world. With the addition of Autobag® packaging systems Sealed Air now have an enviable and comprehensive range of packaging solutions to suit a wide range of applications.

What sectors do your customers operate in?

Our customers operate in a wide range of industries from hardware applications such as plumbing fittings and electrical accessories such as light switches. However, we have seen the biggest growth with our E-Commerce and online retail customers who use the Autobag® 850S bagging machine to increase the efficiency of their outbound packing operations.

More recently, Automated Packaging Solutions’ work supplying the medical industry has been critical during the last several months. Our products are regarded as critical in the fight against the spread of COVID-19, and our colleagues in our factories all around the world have bravely worked through the pandemic to provide our customers with the packaging they need to get their products to the frontline. These included testing kits for the virus, PPE equipment for the brave NHS staff, and various medical devices and components.

What is unique about the packaging solutions Automated Packaging Systems offers?

The Autobag® range of bagging machines offer huge increases in productivity when compared to packing products by hand. The machines present preformed bags for quick and easy loading of products, and are available with optional inline thermal transfer printers for printing product specific information directly onto the bag for a uniform and professional finished pack. Autobag® systems range from small desktop mounted machines to high volume systems, all are easy to use and offer significant increases in productivity with typical packing speeds anywhere between 10 bags per minute up to 45 bags per minute.

The brand is known across the globe for being reliable and building packaging machinery to a high standard. This kind of quality is also found in Automated Packaging Systems’ attitude towards our customers. We offer comprehensive aftersales service and support, with a team of dedicated engineers who are on hand to offer technical support, providing periodic servicing and quick response in the event of a breakdown. In fact, in 2019, 98% of breakdowns were responded to and resolved within 24 hours.

What is the company doing to provide more environmentally responsible packaging products?

Recently, Automated Packaging Systems introduced a range of sustainable materials suitable for running on its Autobag® and AirPouch® machines. These materials include GeoTech™, made from 95% recycled LDPE, as well as compostable films. Additionally, Automated Packaging Systems’ standard LDPE material is wholly recyclable and offers a sustainable option with genuine environmental credentials.

Single use plastic has been in the firing line with the ‘war on plastics’, however, consumers need to also consider the impact of moving to paper based packaging and the negative effect that has on the environment. When disposed of correctly, plastic offers a wholly recyclable option with a carbon footprint 90% less than paper or card alternatives.

How has Automated Packaging Systems reacted to the Covid-19 outbreak? What have been the biggest challenges faced by the company?

The Covid-19 pandemic has been a challenging time for all business across the world, however our products are critical in the fight against the spread of the virus and our operations have remained open throughout the crisis, even though we have had to change how we work and how we interact with colleagues and customers alike. Throughout the pandemic our number one priority has been the safety of our colleagues and customers. Automated Packaging Systems’, part of Sealed Air, mission statement begins with the line: “We are in business to protect, to solve critical packaging challenges and to leave our world better than we found it”. This company ethos has never been more relevant than it is today and we use it to guide our decision making and direct our efforts to ensure the continuity of supply of our products but more importantly the safety of our staff and customers.

How have you been able to turn any of these challenges into opportunities?

The Covid-19 pandemic has meant that businesses around the world have had to rethink how simple tasks are fulfilled. The compact footprint of our Autobag® systems along with the significant increases in productivity they bring has seen many customers, old and new, come to us to facilitate meeting increasing demand for packed product whilst maintaining social distancing in their warehouses. An Autobag® system is often at least four times more efficient than packing by hand and we have seen particularly high demand in E-Commerce and online retail operations where demand has soared. Usually this would mean bringing in more staff to fulfil the packing of orders but with the requirement of social distancing, more and more clients have turned to the Autobag® 850S that offers flexibility, efficiency and a small footprint, in fact one Autobag® 850S covers the same amount of floorspace as one standard pack bench but can process more orders per hour than four manual pack benches.

What has been the biggest news for Automated Packaging Systems in 2020?

In 2020 we are welcoming our new Autobag® 650H to our product range which is a horizontal bagger presenting a preformed bag open to the operator for quick and easy loading. The horizontal orientation of the loading area will make the Autobag® 650H ideal for applications such as online returns, allowing for quick and easy repacking of apparel such as T shirts ready to be returned to stock.

Will you be exhibiting at any trade shows in the near future?

Obviously all exhibitions in 2020 were cancelled and have been postponed until 2021. All being well we will be exhibiting at the Easyfairs Empack show in March, the Internet Retailing Exhibition, the rescheduled Intralogistex Show and the PPMA show later in 2021 too.

Automated Packaging Systems

01684 891 400

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