Two areas we focus on in order to ensure a high degree of packaging automation uptime for our clients are redundancy and availability. Both are critical considerations that promote uptime and mitigate downtime. Each enhance the productivity of the operation.
The concept of redundancy is more obvious than availability. It allows for back up systems that can carry the production load when maintenance or service is required or should a component failure occurs. Without it, maintenance, service, or failure would translate to system downtime. Two specific areas in which we recommend you promote packaging automation uptime by building redundancy into your system are:
- Printer/applicators: These machines require a constant supply of labels that come in large rolls. Rather than shut down the operation when a roll change is needed, a second machine can assume the full production load for the time it takes to perform the maintenance. Running two printers at the same time that share the task of label application actually works better than keeping one machine as a back up, because it eliminates the time needed to get the spare on line — and it enables a higher label application rate.
- Packing list inserters: These machines need constant paper replenishment, and depending on the humidity level, they can be a source of aggravation and paper jams that is easily solved with 2 machines working side by side as shown in this picture of an ecommerce packaging automation operation for a major retailer.
Availability, in this case, refers to the percentage of time system components are available for operation versus the time they are not (i.e. when they must be shut down for maintenace or service). At Invata, we design all our automated packaging systems to have high availability.
Some of the high availability features we recommend for promoting packaging automation uptime include:
- Glue machines for carton sealing versus tape: Not only does gluing top and bottom carton save money in materials, it can improve the opening experience for your customers and dramatically increase uptime for your automated packing system as well. Replacing tape rolls requires a tape machine be shut off when the roll is replaced. Glue on the other hand is replenished via a reservoir that can be filled while the machine is in operation.
- Machines with servo controls versus VFD driven or pneumatic machines: Servo controlled equipment is easier to change over between sizes than VFD driven or pneumatic equipment due to preloaded programs. They also require less maintenance and adjustment during operation.
The primary goal of packaging automation is productivity. Make sure your system is designed to enhance it at every step along the way.