5 Tips for Good Packaging Machine Maintenance
Maintenance of cartoners, case and tray packers and other packaging equipment is crucial for its longevity and performance. Good maintenance means minimizing downtime and keeping costs low. The right maintenance plan, a good inventory of spare parts, and timely upgrades combined with the manufacturer’s support will provide you with a winning formula. This way you can reduce downtime, keep the costs low, lengthen the service life of your equipment, and maximize profits. Even companies with minimal dedicated maintenance staff can accomplish these benefits by utilizing proper maintenance practices.
- Stick to a Preventive Maintenance Plan
Preventive maintenance is the number one strategy for a long packaging machine lifespan. A cartoner is like a car, it needs periodic and regular maintenance to ensure optimal production. Formulating, and sticking to a preventive maintenance schedule is the most important thing after installation of a packaging machine. Timed maintenance, like checking and replacing wear components and lubricating machinery is designed to prevent issues before they even occur. Preventative maintenance is all about planning downtime and necessary materials instead of being caught off guard when a problem occurs.
Therefore, the main purpose of a preventive maintenance plan is decreasing unscheduled downtime by preventing minor problems and major disasters. Examples of preventive maintenance tasks include:
- Machine inspection
- Monitoring and changing wear parts regularly
- Ensuring high wear parts are kept in stock
- Lubricating the machine
These maintenance tasks are typically completed by qualified maintenance personnel (the ones with electrical or mechanical skills), on a preset schedule. The most important aspect of a preventative maintenance schedule is adherence to that schedule. No exceptions are allowed, whether the tasks are scheduled on a monthly, quarterly, or even annual basis.
- Introduce Autonomous Maintenance Tasks
In-depth assignments associated with a Preventive Maintenance Plan should be combined with easier, task-based activities. These activities are carried out at regular intervals by trained machine operators.
This is all done with the help of a checklist. Operators are given small maintenance tasks they must perform on daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and biannual intervals. These tasks usually focus on basic cleaning and inspection routines. Through repeated maintenance tasks the operators become familiar with the machine. This way they can often detect when something is wrong before a scheduled manufacturer’s technician visit. Train your machine operators to become experts in their machinery, not just to operate their equipment. This way they are your first line of defense. An operator should be able to detect unusual noise, speed, undesirable motion and other signals that something is wrong.
- Find A Responsive Packaging Machine Manufacturer
Every second counts when your cartoner or any other packaging machine is down. Discuss the details of technical service availability, methods of contact, and related costs with your packaging machine manufacturer.
A good packaging machine manufacturer will specify a person who will answer your calls or emails. More importantly, this manufacturer will have remote capabilities to access and troubleshoot problems without unnecessary and expensive onsite visits.
Good support includes electrical and mechanical support, but there is more. Support also means emergency service when equipment is down, emergency spare parts and training.
- Understand Your Spare Parts List
After acquiring a cartoner, case packer or palletizer, your manufacturer should give you a recommended spare parts list. This list should be divided into separate part classes by wear, for example, high wear, medium wear, and low wear parts. High wear parts have the shortest lifecycle. Medium wear parts have a longer lifecycle and may or may not ever fail. Low wear parts should never fail.
It is always wise to keep high wear parts in stock. When your machine is down you don’t want to wait for a part to be fabricated or shipped. Every minute your machine is down during production hours is money wasted.
Consult the manufacturer of your equipment about a list of components that are necessary to keep on hand. The best manufacturers often maintain strategic inventories of recommended spare parts to support both planned and emergency component replacement needs.
- Plan for Upgrades and Obsolescence
Cartoners, case & tray packers, palletizers, and their operating software require upgrades. Sometimes when a certain machine or component is made obsolete and no longer supported they require replacement. Packaging equipment is not excluded from today’s fast-paced technology development.
Maintain regular communication with you packaging machine manufacturer to learn about necessary and recommended equipment upgrades. Make sure you will receive a notification if your particular piece of equipment is being phased out. According to that, make a plan for upgrade or replacement of your machinery, components, or software that will minimize downtime. This planning is an integral part of your annual maintenance planning and it can be supported by your chosen manufacturer. Good manufacturers continually improve and update their machinery, and they also regularly address the obsolescence issues.
The Bottom Line
Don’t be taken by surprise when it comes to packaging machine maintenance. These strategies provide the reliability, performance, and efficiency of your cartoners, case packers, tray packers, and palletizers. Your packaging machine manufacturer is your most important partner. Choose Tishma Technologies, and rest assured that all your equipment will serve you for decades.