Safety in the packaging industry used to be a relatively simple matter, a matter of a few requirements and simple maintenance. However, this is changing rapidly. Consumers keep demanding new product choices and packaging styles. Therefore, the packaging industry is requiring modular packaging systems -cartoners, case and tray packers and palletizers with higher speeds, faster changeovers and reduced downtime.
With today’s more automated packaging lines, shutting down a machine isn’t just a minor inconvenience. It leads to productivity loss. It is impractical as well: If you shut the machine down when there is a product in it, before you get it up and running again you will have to clear the product from the machine. Additionally, bringing newer machines back online may in some cases be a more complex and time-consuming process than with older machines. This why the matter of safety cannot simply be reduced to an “emergency off switch”.
However, machines need maintaining and servicing, and we are challenged to find a way to perform safety-related work without stopping production. With a modular design approach, this can be accomplished. We can keep some of the machine running, for instance, slower or in a different mode of operation, so that we can keep downtime to a minimum while we keep the operator safe and get the machine back running faster.
What about safety standards?
It is true that no machine standards are enforced in the U.S. except for those of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration whose rules have the support of the law. On the other hand, multinational companies are increasingly demanding compliance. Noncompliance can even close the door for some markets, for example, Europe. The new standards go along with new technologies that can make packaging machines both safer and more productive.
The two most important standards in this area are ANSI/PMMI B155.1 2011 and EN ISO 13849-1. Other standards can refer to a specific aspect of a machine or system operation, such as robotics, but these two standards are the key drivers in redefining safety requirements for packaging machine manufacturers and users.
New approaches: zoning and optoelectronics
New safety technology uses the same Ethernet network as the machine control system. Switching from hardwired safety circuits and safety PLCs to a networked safety system enables packaging machines and lines to be zoned. It also provides additional diagnostic information, and replaces the wiring.
With the zoning approach, you can safely control speeds, torques and motion in specific sections of machines or lines without stopping the entire line, so the system can be safely slowed rather than e-stopped and restarted.
Robotics are playing an increasingly important role in packaging and the flexibility enabled by zoning is particularly relevant to robotics. A large percentage of robot-related injuries occur not during production but during maintenance and programming. To access the robot, workers must expose themselves to risk, because they have to turn off some or all of the old, binary on/off safety devices. Newer technology and new standards enable workers to access robots and still be protected. The Robotics Industry Association (www.robotics.org) has recently revised its ANSI/RIA R15.06 2012 Industrial Robot Standard according to the risk assessment methodology of EN ISO 13849-1 to adjust to this new reality and allow today’s advanced programmable safety devices to be used.
Devices such as light curtains, laser scanners, and safety cameras are becoming more and more reliable and when coupled with integrated controllers, they provide more flexibility as well.
Optoelectric devices such as safety light curtains have been decreasing in price while adding additional features making these devices more affordable to incorporate.
These and other devices are easier to incorporate into machines and systems thanks to the introduction of new safety technologies like safety controllers. Advanced communications and the flexibility of the safety controller reduce the machine downtime thus improving manufacturing efficiency. The safety controller is expendable, so it allows a customer to standardize on a single platform for all their machines.
As you can see, new technology brings new options, so when you set off on a hunt for a new packaging machine, be sure to ask for a machines safety specification and choose the machine that can meet your requirements in terms of safety and productivity. Start now, get a quote on Tishma Technologies’ cartoners, tray packers, case packers or palletizers.
The word “ergonomics” originates from the Greek language from the word “ergon,” meaning work, and “nomos” meaning “laws.” In todays terminology, this word refers to the science of “designing the job to fit the worker, rather than forcing the worker to fit the job.” Every aspect of a job, from the physical stresses it places on muscles, joints, tendons, nerves, and bones, to environmental factors like noise, lighting, temperature, air moisture and other factors that can affect human health – it is all related to the subject of ergonomics.
In the packaging industry, we focus on packaging solutions. We focus on cartoners, case packers, tray packers, and palletizers. We focus on protecting the product, but we shouldn’t overlook the importance of protecting the workers as well.
Ergonomic Injuries in the World of Packaging
When done manually, packaging operations often require employees to stand in a single location, performing repetitive movements. Some packaging operations require heavy lifting or awkward postures. Workers that handle packaging operations manually have the risk of repetitive motion injuries – injuries that are caused by performing the same movement over and over which strains the body part. A research paper published earlier this year, “An Ergonomic Investigation of the Case Packing Line at Company XYZ” gave us these insights on the types of injuries and their impact when it comes to manual case packing operations. According to the paper, the most common injuries were associated with the wrist (caused by cumulative trauma disorders, such as carpal tunnel syndrome and tendonitis) and the back (the result of improper lifting techniques). But these injuries don’t hurt only the worker. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics emphasizes the loss of productivity caused by workplace injuries, for example:
3,277,700 total reportable injuries; 965,000 of those injuries resulted in absence from work
379,340 injury reports involved sprains, strains, and tears; 11% of those injuries (43,100) happened to workers in the manufacturing industry
195,150 back injuries were reported; 10% (20,540) occurred to employees in the manufacturing industry (v)
What can WE do? There are two possible solutions: training and automation.
Training of workers in order for them to develop right ergonomic work habits can be helpful. It cannot harm to advise your employees to:
1) Avoid long reaches (over 16 in.);
2) Keep hands and elbows down;
3) Avoid using the first three inches of the work surface;
4) Avoid tilting the head forward greater than thirty degrees;
5) Avoid tilting the upper body forward;
6) Change posture occasionally.
Though training can help, it doesn’t change the work process, so certain risks remain. These risks can be lowered by automation, so consider these improvements for your packaging line in order to avoid repetitive motion injuries and other hazards:
Instead of making the workers erect cartons by hand, consider acquiring a case erector. Besides an increase in the efficiency, you will also eliminate the chance of repeated-use injuries.
To prevent repetitive use injury due to hand taping of cases, think about the use of case sealers which automatically apply tamper evident security tape to packages.
Use a robotic automation solution to reduce the ergonomic risks of both the manual case packing and palletizing processes. A robot cannot be injured, so if you leave all the repetitive work to a robot, human intervention will be required only to run the machine and re-load the case magazine. When it comes to palletizing, let the robot handle the case lifting and stacking motions, and reduce the risk of injury to personnel. Keep in mind that even assembly processes include repetitive motion that can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome or tendonitis. Robots today have what it takes for assembly and material handling processes, so you can reassign your workers to duties that are less likely to cause injury.
Bottom line: By reducing the risk of injury to their personnel, manufacturers can increase profitability, which may, among other things, allow manufacturers to stay where they are, instead of relocating their factories somewhere where wages are lower. If we take the human factor into consideration, we can easily calculate how much money we can save only by keeping our workers safe. Do the math and you will clearly see the ergonomic advantages of automating manual processes.
So, do something nice for your business and people that work for you, and check out Tishma Technologies’ cartoners, case and tray packers and palletizers – each of them with their unique set of modular add-ons for full automation of the packaging process.
We are proud to announce that Tishma Technologies will exhibit on this year’s Pack Expo that will take place in Las Vegas, from 25th to 27th of September.
Whether it’s a horizontal and vertical cartoners, case and tray packers, palletizers or robotics, we are always happy to introduce our latest innovations in the field of packaging equipment. This year we are bringing a special guest: ROO 100 – the world’s next champion in fast packaging! But that’s not all. Visit us at stand number 7648 and see what else we have prepared for you!
The PACK EXPO is a trade show that focuses on packaging and processing innovation while bringing together a wide range of industries. Attendees include corporate, general, plant and project managers; engineers; production supervisors; those involved in operations and quality control; purchasers; package designers, brand managers, and marketers; and logistics and supply chain management professionals from all vertical industries. More than 2,000 top-tier suppliers of advanced packaging equipment, materials, containers, automation technologies and other supply chain innovators will exhibit at PACK EXPO Las Vegas, and Tishma will be one of them.
Purchasing a new packaging machine, whether it’s a cartoner, case and tray packer or palletizer, it can be one of the most serious, but also one of the most exciting and fulfilling investments you can make. Of course, as with any investment, it is wise to educate yourself on both the recommended strategies and common stepping stones. Since we prefer to think of ourselves as a trusting partner, rather than the mere packaging machine manufacturers, we want to make sure that you will make the right investment. So here are the 8 pieces of advice that you should follow while considering a new packaging machine purchase.
Research Online, Purchase Offline.
Let’s get right to the point. Regardless of the price, a bad decision is an expensive decision. There is no doubt that online research is definitely one of the most important steps when making a choice. Use the internet to educate yourself. Learn about new modular features of packaging machines and packaging techniques that may interest you in the future. Arming yourself with all the right facts can save you hours of time and miles of travel. Narrow your packaging machine choice down to two or three manufacturers and models that could meet your requirements. Rather than spending a little time in communication with many manufacturers, take your time and get all the important information from the few manufacturers you contacted.
Be a Value Shopper – Not a Price Shopper
If you are too set on the right price, you might end up with the wrong machine. If you have to stay within a specific price range, ask about certain modular add-ons you can purchase later. This will allow you to move up in features as your business and budget grow, without losing a big part of your initial investment. A good packaging machine manufacturer should provide a way for you to upgrade your equipment. Some manufacturers hold their value better than others.
Ask About Warranty and Services
There is nothing more satisfying than getting the packaging machine that suits you at the best possible price, but you also need to check can the manufacturer you chose provide you with spare parts, satisfactory warranty and servicing of the machine. With investments as big and as important as buying a new machine, it’s the little differences that can make you change your decision.
Expect and Embrace Training
We know that you are an expert in your field, but do not assume that you can skip the education or support on your new machine. The more sophisticated the packaging solution is, the more valuable a well-educated support team will be. Learning by trial and error is expensive, it lasts longer and it is completely unacceptable in the business world. On the other hand, proper training can help you to explore new possibilities and find the best way of utilizing your new packaging machine.
Try Before You Buy
A good demonstration and testing are mandatory! Even a tailor-made machine may appear to have all of the features you are asked for when you are watching it perform, but you may not notice the subtle adjustments being made by the demonstrator. Don’t be fooled by smoke and mirrors. Ask to see the machine working with a variety of products and packaging types, utilizing all the features you required.
Allow Yourself Room to Grow
Avoid the expense of outgrowing the machine too quickly, and anticipate your development. Even though you may not have thoroughly explored all the future options, purchase a machine that allows you room to grow. Your business might not be so big today, but you may find that with a solid packaging line you can try out the packaging types that would be out of the question with your current equipment. Even if you have only a minor interest in expanding your product line, ask about the ability to add the features that will allow you to pack your potentially new product in the future. Some features can be added as an after-purchase, while some will require an entire change of models.
Trust Your Instincts
If you took a quote from a few manufacturers for a similar packaging solution and realized that the prices are similar as well, the deciding factor should be, “Which manufacturer seems more appealing? Who is the most suitable for a long-term relationship?” After all, you are not just purchasing a packaging machine, you are investing in an entire packaging environment. Make your purchase where you feel at home. Will you be at ease contacting the manufacturer and asking for help? Is technical help readily available?
Always Consider a Manufacturer’s Reputation
How committed is the manufacturer to you as a client in general? Is their business model designed to make the initial sale with a focus on building a long-term relationship, or do they assume they won’t be seeing or hearing from you in a while? Do they offer a full line of products and services that support your business? Are they structured as a onetime stop for acquiring the machine, or as a potential lifelong partner in all your packaging endeavors?
We won’t tell you that Tishma Technologies should be your first choice. Just follow these steps. We look forward to cooperating with you.
Let’s talk about money: New packaging machine is a serious investment!
The financial department tries to cut costs, production department insists on new equipment and it is up to you to make a decision: should we purchase a new or a refurbished machine? Price is always the main factor in all “old vs new” dilemmas, but you need to consider other factors in order to make the right packaging investment.
True, used or refurbished packaging machines can be a great way of trying out new packaging concepts with low investment risk and low capital cost. On the other hand, there is a greater risk of malfunction which would then cause additional expenses.
In order to help you make the right decision, here are our two cents on this topic.
Something old: Buying a used packaging machine
A second-hand packaging machine may appear ideal for businesses that want to minimize capital expenses. This can work if you are a startup business that wants to test product and packaging concepts at a reduced cost. Used machines cost less, and they are usually available quicker. On the other hand, there are some risks. The machine you purchased can turn out to be inefficient and unreliable. There is also a question of spare parts and service. Are they available? Can you acquire them easily? Don’t forget about the safety standards that are constantly rising. Can a refurbished machine meet them? There is also a risk of unpleasant surprises like an expensive modification of a machine in order to make it work for you. Finally, warranties on used machines don’t usually cover all the important components, that is if there even is any warranty.
If you aren’t quite ready to give up on the idea of a second-hand machine, make sure to keep an eye on these four things when looking for a used machine.
Do a complete audit of the machine including the electrical components.
Find out about the history of the machine; what products were run on it? What was the plant environment? Was maintenance performed on it regularly?
Look for oil leaks – they are a sign of a poorly maintained machine.
Always demand to see the machine in full operation, so you are sure that all functions work.
Something new: Buying a new packaging machine
A new packaging system is a perfect solution for established companies that want to improve packaging efficiency.
These companies usually have already defined and standardized packaging processes, so they are more interested in improving packaging speed, packaging quality and overall efficiency of a production line.
True, this demands higher initial capital and investment cost, and with some manufacturers it may take a bit longer for machine completion.
But, on the other hand, you will get a piece of equipment that is designed and optimized according to your needs so it can serve you for many years to come. The new machine is compliant with all current safety requirements, it has a genuine warranty and with a good manufacturer, you don’t have to worry about regular maintenance, service personnel or spare parts.
So, if you still haven’t made a decision, do not let the potential price discourage you from getting a new machine. With a modular approach to design, the price of a new machine isn’t always significantly over your budget. Go ahead and ask a reliable manufacturer for a quote. You can start by checking out Tishma Technologies’ cartoners, case packers, tray packers,palletizers, and robotics – whichever you need, Tishma will deliver!