Should you invest in automated check weighing technology? What’s the ROI?

Posted by Brought to you by Matthews Australasia on 26th May 2017

Checkweighers are critical to measuring and monitoring the efficiency and cost of a packaging line, checking products to ensure weights are within specified limits and automatically remove any packs that aren't. Checkweighers can also be used to “count” items.

If you’re worried about wasting profits with over-filling product, you may be thinking of investing in checkweighing equipment. But is it really worth it?

To help you weigh up the benefits, here’s how you, as a manufacturer, can calculate the ROI of investing in a checkweigher. And it’s more than just about the giveaway. To make it really simple to calculate, we’ve also included a free online tool.

Lean manufacturing is a great way to boost your business’s operational efficiency and competitiveness. But there’s one – very obvious – way to reduce waste on the production line and boost your bottom line: with a checkweigher.

 Checkweighers are critical to measuring and monitoring the efficiency and cost of a packaging line. They can check food (and non-food) products to ensure weights are within specified limits and automatically remove any packs that aren’t. At the same time, by providing all-important feedback data needed for quality control, checkweighers can quickly become an indispensable tool for saving cost on any production line.

Checkweighers can also be used to “count” items. For example, a four-pack of condiments should weigh X. When a checkweigher measures the weight of the combo pack, if it is less than X then one or more of the condiment jars are missing.

However, as with any equipment, a checkweigher requires up-front investment. So how quickly will it provide a return? Here’s how to work out your return on investment (ROI)…

To make it really simple to calculate, here is a free checkweigher pay-back calculator tool to use.

 Terms to know

 Checkweighing, like many fields, has its own terms. Here are some basic ones:

  • Nominal weight: stated weight, regardless of the actual weight
  • Gross weight: total weight of the contents and packaging
  • Net weight: weight of just the contents
  • Giveaway: portion of the product that is above the nominal weight; this part is not charged for and therefore equates to lost profits — a checkweigher helps reduce the giveaway

Is giveaway a really big deal?

 Yes. The ROI of your checkweigher essentially comes down to the giveaway; that is, the portion of your product that is not charged for. While it might not seem like much on the surface, even the tiniest amount of product over the nominal weight can quickly add up and impact your bottom line.

Let’s assume your factory produces 200 packs per minute for 16 hours a day.

  • 200/min x 60min/hr x 16hrs = 192,000 packs per day

Production efficiency for your factory is 60% and it operates 235 days (5 days per week x 47 weeks) per year.

  • 192,000 x 60% = 115,200/day x 235 days = 27 million packs per year

If your factory can reduce giveaway by 1g per pack, and each gram is $0.001 or 1/10th of a cent per gram ($0.001), what can you save?

  • $0.001/pk x 27million packs = $27,000/yr

That’s a massive saving of $27,000 a year! That’s $115 every day that the line runs.

The more accurate your checkweigher therefore, the more money you can save. Even with a small packet of say pine nuts, eliminating the tiniest amount of overfill could add up to massive savings.

So should you care about giveaway? If you want to improve your bottom line, the answer is YES.

 Calculating your checkweigher’s ROI

 To calculate your checkweigher’s ROI, you need to weigh up the giveaway savings with the cost of a typical checkweigher and what your company’s accountant considers as a “reasonable payback time”.

For example, if in the example above, your factory pays $30,000 for the machinery, then based on say $26,000 savings, it will take you less than two years to break even. If your accountant considers a reasonable payback to be three years, then this makes your checkweigher a strong investment.

But it’s not just about the giveaway…

There are many other reasons manufacturers and food processors should invest in a checkweigher. One of the most important is to conform to regulations — of the industry bodies and the supermarkets. The Woolworths Quality Assurance (WQA), for example, mandates checkweighing for Home Brand products, and highly recommends it for all products. (See here for some interesting information on the WQA.)

Drive out variability

Many influences can cause fluctuations in the weight of packaged goods. However, regulations state that these weight fluctuations must not cause the net weight of a single package to fall significantly below the stated net weight and the permissible underfill amounts.

Some manufacturers overfill packs to eliminate the risk of underfilling. But this is a costly tactic, and can result in massive product giveaway over time. The best tactic is to employ a checkweigher to monitor and manage product filling. This eliminates the need for additional staff, while driving quality improvement through repeatable and reliable inspection.

Accelerate ROI with a local supplier

Another way to maximise the ROI is to choose a checkweigher that boasts exceptional reliability and lower life-cycle costs. Choosing a local supplier means a team of experts is on hand to provide upgrades, modifications and troubleshooting when needed. There is also local availability of spare parts, so in the event of a failure, you can be sure that downtime is minimised. This all adds up to accelerate ROI over the machine’s lifetime. (Check out five tips for choosing the right labelling and coding equipment provider by going local.)

The bottom line

Checkweighers are traditionally associated with regulatory compliance, but there are big-business benefits to be gained by using a checkweigher to reduce product wastage, tighten tolerances, and ensure more consistent products.

By improving weighing precision, checkweighers can provide an immediate positive contribution to profits. And because checkweigh technology can help you detect issues with product overfill or underfill, you can use the data to correct problems on the line and create a lean business.

Tool

See here for a quick run down on uses and benefits for checkweighers, and here for more detail.

For guidance on choosing and implementing the right inspection technology for your application, please contact us via email or call 1300 IQVISION (1300 478 474). We have years of experience customising applications from the simple to the complex.

iQVision also has a host of information in our resource library, including case studies, whitepapers, FAQ’s, videos, our blog and brochures. They’re all free to download.