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How Aagard’s Rapid Launch™ Changes the Game

Rapid Launch™ helps manufacturers improve their competitiveness by responding to retailers’ changing demands.

Rapid Launch™ is a new set of capabilities from Aagard that helps manufacturers get new products to market faster and compete more effectively. It enables manufacturers to better respond to changing demands from retailers and operate with greater flexibility and skill. Developed and tested in partnership with a major CPG manufacturer, Rapid Launch™ will change the game for manufacturers in all product categories.


Changing Retailer Demands

In today’s challenging and hypercompetitive retail environment, retailers are constantly looking to optimize their shelf space and reset their shelves with different products and sizes. Retailers also look for greater variety of branded and private label products and want to include unique or seasonal products. This trend applies to all major retailers, such as Walmart and Costco.


What This Means for Manufacturers

For manufacturers, the changing retail environment has created a much more challenging competitive situation. Retailers want manufacturers to provide greater product variety, flexibility, and speed, while continuing to deliver high levels of quality and reliability. Retailers are constantly requesting different sizes of products from manufacturers to optimize their shelf space.


Responding to this constant drumbeat of retailers’ demands is extremely challenging for manufacturers—and for the operators working on manufacturing lines. Manufacturers are forced to constantly change their equipment formats and might need new machine parts to do that. Or, a retailer might demand smaller case counts, requiring that existing machines run faster.


Doing the required changeovers takes deep expertise, takes a great deal of time, and can incur significant expenses. These changeovers are complicated enough but add in the labor shortages that many manufacturers currently face today, and the steps required to satisfy retailers and to compete effectively are extremely difficult.


"Many of the companies we work with have historically had certain lines dedicated to certain formats. Now they want ultimate flexibility in their lines. An Aagard machine featuring Rapid Launch™ provides this and is their 'flexible line of the future.'” Jason Norlien, Aagard

The Problem with Today’s Equipment

Here is an example of a typical situation experienced by a manufacturer: ƒ

  • A retailer pushes the manufacturer to change the size of a product. ƒ

  • Changing the product size has an enormous ripple effect—it changes the pack size and may require changes throughout the manufacturing and packaging lines. ƒ

  • To satisfy the retailer, the manufacturer first goes through an internal design process to redesign its products and cartons. ƒ

  • After having undertaken this internal redesign process, the manufacturer then approaches Aagard with a desire to make changes to the Aagard equipment being used. ƒ

  • Aagard studies the situation and determines the modifications needed on the existing equipment. ƒ

  • Aagard then provides the parts required to modify the equipment and sends a technician (or multiple technicians) to the manufacturer’s plant. ƒ

  • The technician(s) install the new parts and test the equipment.

This process is slow, can take months from beginning to end and can be extremely costly. Unfortunately, the process must be repeated over and over, each time a manufacturer needs to respond to a retailer’s request for a new size.

“We partnered with our customer to change this long painful process.” Jonas Capistrant, Aagard

One CPG Company’s Desire for Change

A leading CPG company that sells its products through the nation’s grocery retailers, including giants like Walmart, saw and experienced firsthand the changes taking place in the retail market.

Due to the constant demands from major retailers for increased variety and shelf resets, this manufacturer was forced to engage in frequent retrofits of its existing systems constantly. This company had about 130 Aagard systems at various facilities across the United States. These retrofits were complex, time-consuming, and expensive. However, there was no other option for this CPG company to meet the demands of retailers and to remain competitive.


Aagard realized there had to be a better way. Working in collaboration with this CPG company, Aagard saw an opportunity to co-develop a new set of capabilities to make it far simpler for plant personnel to create multiple products easily. What resulted was the development of Rapid Launch™


How Rapid Launch™ Changes the Game

Rapid Launch™ solves the problem of slow, complex, expensive, painful equipment changes and retrofits. The concept is to eliminate many retrofits and provide capabilities that enable any operator—even with minimal training—to easily set up any product size within a given range.


Features of Rapid Launch™ include: ƒ

  • Auto-calculation of new package schemes. An operator simply enters all of the case dimensions into the machine, which then automatically calculates the optimal motion of all of the equipment’s operations. ƒ

  • Intuitive interface. When an operator goes to the HMI, it is a simple, easy, intuitive interface using touchscreens. Any operator can learn to use the HMI within five minutes. ƒ

  • Optimize space and capability. Aagard’s legacy involves equipment with a small footprint and premium automation. ƒ

  • Optional changeover verification helps ensure precise setups and decreased changeover time, using Siko counters.

Key benefits of Rapid Launch™ are: ƒ

  • Getting products to market faster because of the speed and flexibility in producing new products and sizes. ƒ

  • Greater reliability since machines function better. ƒ

  • Operators love it because it makes their lives easier as an operator can change over a machine within minutes.

Most importantly, companies can compete more effectively in the marketplace by consistently delivering on what retailers are looking for. Rapid Launch™ is a game changer that helps manufacturers win now and in the future.



“For the majority of our customers who change recipes, sizes, setups, speeds, and counts in cases with some frequency, Rapid Launch™ is a tremendous value.” Jonas Capistrant, Aagard









The Big Bet

After working together to develop Rapid Launch™, the Aagard team was extremely confident in these new capabilities—but the CPG company wasn’t so sure. So, Aagard proposed a bet. The bet was that on a piece of equipment with Rapid Launch™, the CPG company could pick any size within the equipment’s range, and a CPG company’s team member could set up a new recipe and get it running within one hour.


It turns out that an engineer from the CPG company grabbed a new carton and case size that Aagard had never seen before, which was particularly difficult. Nevertheless, with no training or involvement from Aagard, the engineer set it up and had cases running through the system in less than an hour.


This experience was monumental to this customer. It proved to them they can set up any size within the equipment’s range within minutes, without needing any assistance from Aagard. They were happy to lose this bet—which meant grilling burgers for the Aagard team—because it meant far more straightforward, faster changeovers and getting product to market faster.


In the future, Rapid Launch™ will be standard functionality on all new Aagard equipment and it is possible to add this capability to some Aagard equipment that is already installed and in use.


Summary

As retailers demand more sizes, flexibility, and speed from manufacturers, continuing to use the same old changeover processes will no longer work. Rapid Launch™ is a game changer in that it turns the changeover process from weeks and months to hours. As a result, manufacturers can get new products to market faster, can better satisfy demanding retailers—and can win in the marketplace.


Additional Information

To learn more about Aagard, see www.aagard.com

Contact Aagard at: ƒ

Phone: 320.763.6043 ƒ

Email: sales@aagard.com


AAGARD is an engineering company that builds custom packaging automation systems since 1997. Our team of inventive problem-solvers utilizes our innovative expertise and proven technologies to create the exact solution our customers need to win. While many of our customers come to us looking for a case packer, through an iterative design process, we discover the need for an integrated combination packaging system. The solution is a turnkey packaging automation machine that is optimized for both space and future capabilities