Tips on Increasing Packaging Automation Uptime
Imagine a cartoner, case packer, tray packer or palletizer that can work 24/7, with no downtime. Sounds good, doesn’t it? But even the most reliable machines sometimes need to be turned off in order to perform maintenance and replenish materials that the machines utilize. It is every manager’s goal to increase the efficiency of certain processes. One of the ways to increase efficiency is to maximize the automation processes and minimize downtime.
Key techniques for increasing efficiency
The first step to increasing line efficiency and minimizing downtime is gathering precise information about your packaging line. By measuring the numerical performance of the line, operators can analyze the efficiency of the line and discover if there is a room for improvements. This can be especially beneficial when the workers on the factory floor are engaged in the process. Encouraging your employees to benchmark and objectively analyze their performance results in energized workers, willing to find ways to improve efficiency.
Besides measuring, certain changes to manufacturing practices can create efficiencies and increase throughput. If we take into consideration that one of the major cause of downtime is material or product loading, it is clear that utilizing an automatic system will significantly reduce downtime and increase profitability.
In addition, automation of processes often means that fewer operators can manage the task, which reduces the labor costs.
There are two areas you should focus on in order to ensure a high degree of packaging automation up-time: redundancy and availability. Redundancy refers to back up systems that can take over the production during the maintenance, servicing or failure of some of the main components. Without the backup system, all these cases would result in system downtime.
Redundancy in Packaging Automation
Printer/applicators: These machines need a steady supply of labels that come in large rolls. Instead of shutting down the operation when it is time for a roll change, a second machine can take over the full production load during maintenance. Actually in many cases, having two printers running at the same time enables a higher label application rate and actually works better than keeping one machine as a backup, because it eliminates the time needed to get the spare machine online.
Packing list inserters: These machines require paper replenishment, and depending on the air humidity, there is a constant risk of paper jams. This can be easily solved with 2 machines working side by side.
Availability in Packaging Automation
Availability refers to the percentage of time the system components are available for operation in comparison to the time they are not (when they need to be shut down for maintenance or repair)
Some solutions are better than others in terms of availability. So, for promoting packaging automation uptime, consider these solutions:
- Use glue machines for carton sealing instead of tape: Gluing the top and bottom of a carton saves money in materials, it can improve the opening experience for your customers and it dramatically increases up-time for your automated packing system as well. In order to replace tape rolls, the machine has to be shut down. Glue, on the other hand is stored in a reservoir that can be refilled while the machine is in operation.
- Use machines with servo controls instead of VFD driven or pneumatic machines: Servo controlled equipment requires less maintenance and adjustment during operation and it is easier to change over between sizes than VFD driven or pneumatic equipment because of pre-loaded programs.
Increases in productivity and efficiency can lead to an increase in the profitability of the business. With maximum line efficiency, each package is able to absorb more of the plant overhead. The existing capital structure can be used to fulfill more customer orders at less cost per unit. Relatively small but highly strategic capital investments, such as automatic packaging equipment, can be returned quickly and ultimately lead to even greater line profitability.
If you are looking for a way to minimize downtime and increase efficiency, search no longer! Tishma Technologies manufactures fully automated packaging machines and systems with various modular add-ons that allow you to automate every aspect of the packaging process, from product feeding to printing and labeling.