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packagers playbook series

education for packaging professionals

2015
EDITION

PRIMARY
PACKAGING LINE
EQUIPMENT
PLAYBOOK
HOW TO SUCCESSFULLY IMPLEMENT PRIMARY PACKAGING LINE EQUIPMENT
Coding trends for primary packaging
Coding survey results
PackML and when to use it
How to compare machines at a trade show

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SPONSORED BY

ENGINEERED FOR PERFORMANCE

TM

REA L DEMANDS . REA L SOLUTIONS

packagers playbook series

education for packaging professionals

PRIMARY PACKAGING LINE EQUIPMENT PLAYBOOK

CONTENTS

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CONTRIBUTORS
5

All the packaging experts who contributed to this Playbook

INTRODUCTION
7

Your Playbook for building a better packaging line

EQUIPMENT STRATEGIES
10
13
16
19
25
29
32
34
36
41
47

Five trends in liquid filling equipment


Nine tips for buying liquid filling equipment
Best practices when implementing weigh/filling equipment
Key implications of FSMA for food packaging suppliers
Auger filling equipment trends and buying tips
Nine best practices for selecting capping equipment
In-line cappers versus rotary chuck-style cappers
Trends in coding/marking for primary packaging
Ten tips for buying coding/marking systems for primary packaging
Comparing coding technologies
Best practices for specifying conveying and container handling equipment

PRIMARY PACKAGING LINE EQUIPMENT PLAYBOOK

CONTENTS

EQUIPMENT STRATEGIES CONTINUED


52
56
70
76
79
81
85

Best practices for buffering and packaging line design


How to calculate Overall Equipment Effectiveness: A practical guide
Trends and drivers for machine vision technology
Best practices in specifying vision systems
Metal detection, X-ray, and checkweigh trends
Best practices in specifying inspection systems
Trends and tips for specifying induction sealing equipment

PROJECT STRATEGIES
88
92
98
101
106
109
115
120
123

Ten financial justifications for new equipment


Best practices for specifying packaging machinery
Vendor evaluation methodology for packaging equipment
Tips on finding the right equipment supplier
Seven tips for comparing machines at a trade show
Roadmap for a successful Factory Acceptance Test
Eleven tips for a successful packaging line start-up
Benefits of PackML and when to use it on your line
How projects fail: 11 pitfalls to avoid

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PRIMARY PACKAGING LINE EQUIPMENT PLAYBOOK

CONTRIBUTORS

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The following brand owners, consultants, and engineering experts contributed to this Playbook:
Roy Greengrass P.E.

Sunny Ishikawa

Senior Engineering Manager


Del Monte Foods

Engineering Research Fellow


Wrigley

Paul H. Davis

Dave Hoenig

Project Engineer
Ryt-way Industries, LLC

Principal
DH Technical Consulting, LLC

Stan Walulek

Paul Zepf

Vice President
Michels Bakery, Inc.

P.Eng., M.Eng., CPP


Zarpac Inc.

Paul Redwood

Greg Flickinger

Senior Research Engineer


Church & Dwight

VP Manufacturing and Corporate Engineering,


Snyders-Lance, Inc.

Shawn French

Adam Pawlick

Engineering Manager
Sun Products

Director of Packaging
Bay Valley Foods

Matthew Courtesis

Glenn Whiteside

Packaging Dept. Supervisor


Boston Beer

Packaging Engineer, CPP


Synthes (USA)

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PRIMARY PACKAGING LINE EQUIPMENT PLAYBOOK

CONTRIBUTORS

Additional Contributors:
Sterling Anthony
Consultant

Tommy Lancaster

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We gratefully acknowledge the expertise


of these supplier contributors:
Accutek, All-Fill, Apacks, Axon, Cognex, Cozzoli Machine Co./MRM/Elgin,
Delkor Systems, Domino, Douglas Machine, Econocorp, Fanuc Robotics,
Fowler Products, Griffin-Rutgers, Heat & Control, ID Technologies, Lion Precision,
MGS Machine, Morrison Container Handling Solutions, Nalbach Engineering,
Optima-USA, Pearson Packaging Systems, Spee Dee Packaging Machinery,
Thermo Scientific, Videojet, Weighpack, Yamato, Z.I.T.O. (Zito Induction Technology
Options)

Chief Operating Officer


Bryson Industries

Curtis Wardaugh, P.E.


President
Medalist Engineering, P.C.

Elizabeth Barr Fawell


Associate, Food and Agriculture Group
Hogan Lovells US LLP
Several other brand owners were
interviewed for this Playbook on
the condition of anonymity.

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PRIMARY PACKAGING LINE EQUIPMENT PLAYBOOK

INTRODUCTION

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Your Playbook for building


a better packaging line
Specifying and installing a modern, automated packaging line is essentially an exercise in
team building. You may be in your present position because of your technical knowledge and
experience, but packaging line experts have told us over and over that good communication
skillswithin your plant and outside of itmay be just as important to the success of your
new or upgraded packaging line. You must know your product and your lineand be able to
communicate that knowledge to both internal and external members of the team. Learn what
package machine builders need to know in order to give you the solutions you want.
The idea behind our Playbooks is the creation of one source that spells out all the tricks and
tips associated with buying, testing, commissioning, and starting up packaging equipment.
To unlock these secrets, we spoke with or consulted with dozens of sources. Most of these
consisted of in-depth phone interviews with experts in the fieldengineers and managers at
leading consumer packaged goods companies.
We also talked to suppliers, which gamely set aside their sales hat and spoke honestly about
best practices and pitfalls to avoid. Remember that while you may buy one filler or inspection
system or coding/marking system in a given yearif that manythe companies selling that
equipment have been through dozens of projects in that same time period. Learn from their
experiences.

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INTRODUCTION

continued

Your Playbook for


building a better
packaging line

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In short, what youre reading is the collective thinking of an industry, representing hundreds
of years of packaging experience, distilled into a short, actionable, bulleted style that makes
for easy reading.
This particular Playbook, like our other successful Playbooks in the areas of flexible packaging,
labeling, and package development, has been updated for 2013. The Primary Playbook covers
the front half of the packaging linefrom unscrambling through induction sealing. New
material in the areas of weighing/filling, robotics, and primary coding has been added to
bring these subjects up to date.
You will also want to download the End-of-Line Equipment Playbook, which covers
everything on the back half of the packaging line, from cartoning, case packing, and shrink
bundling through palletizing and stretch wrapping. The two Playbooks will equip you well for
your next project. (See all our Playbooks at Packworld.com/playbook.) All of our Playbooks are
designed to be read either on the screen, or printed out.
A final word. The entire cost of producing and distributing this Playbook has been
underwritten by the companies that have sponsored it. We thank them for their support, and
we thank you for reading.

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INTRODUCTION

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Our Editor:

Melissa Larson

Melissa Larson has been writing about the packaging and converting industries since 1984.
She was senior editor of Packaging magazine, was the founding editor of Pharmaceutical and
Medical Packaging News, and was managing editor of Converting. She has also blogged for
PMMIs Connected Communities and other packaging industry clients. She resides in Barrington, IL.

Contributing Editor

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EQUIPMENT STRATEGIES

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Five trends in liquid


filling equipment
Speed and precision are the hallmarks of liquid filling systems. As the economy improves,
packagers are under the gun, using all their planning skills to take care of business while
utilizing the equipment already on the floor, and perhaps contemplating new technology.
Heres what they are discovering is available in liquid filling:

1. Shorter lead times: Short build times are the norm as the economy recovers, as most

Source: Apacks

packagers are dealing with multiple product lines, projects, and deadlines. They are searching
for suppliers that can deliver a full packaging line with the shortest build time. Budget is still a
concern, but the growing demands, in particular, of the food and beverage business dictate a
fully integrated solution on a tight deadline.

2. Flexibility and adaptability: Packagers continue to look for flexibility in machinery


so they can package products with a wide range of containers, caps, labels, sleeves, and
products. They want machines that can handle different size/shape containers as a standard
feature, without additional add-ons or a custom solution.

3.Quick changeovers: SKU proliferation and retailers that order at the last minute to
avoid holding stock have driven the need for faster changeovers in recent years. This has led
to the development of technologies for quicker cleaning, eliminating pistons, cylinders, and
valves that have to be removed, cleaned, and reinstalled. Instead, such components can be

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FAST.
RUGGED.
RELIABLE.
ACCURATE.

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continued

Five trends in liquid filling equipment


cleaned with hot water or steam straight through the filling
nozzle. On in-line machines, theres also a trend favoring
universal change parts, reducing or in some cases even
eliminating the need to remove parts for a size change.

4. Compliance with the Food Safety


Modernization Act (FSMA): Cleanability per FSMA
is a big concern for filler machine builders. Fillers have
a tendency to have complex fluid pathways due to the
many pistons, pumps, and check valves inherent in their
design. Cleanability goals are quick disassembly with no
tools needed, disassembly of hoses, etc., and no hidden
fluid pathways.

Booth 318
November 2
2-5

5. Multiple-function machines: Packagers are


asking for machines that can perform multiple functions
beyond that of the traditional monobloc filler/capper. One
example cited was a machine that orients bottles and caps
to one another as well as to the final case-packing system.

COMBINATION WEIGHERS

www.YamatoAmericas.com
(262) 236-0000

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continued

Five trends in liquid filling equipment

Code accuracy and


print speeds matter.
Trust Videojet.

CPGs also want more equipment flexibility to accommodate


a continually expanding range of packaging formats,
including a wider variety of container shapes, sizes, material
structures, and closure mechanisms. Five years from now,
some machine builders predict more complexly integrated
machines with software adaptations that can handle maybe
four to six operations (for example, filling, capping, labeling,
coding, cartoning, and casing) in one system. Also predicted
are multiple production cellsif one module fails, you can
take it out and replace it without having to replace the
entire system.

Videojet marking and printing technology is constantly advancing to


deliver more and better codes on almost any package type. From
the printing of simple best by dates to GS1 DataMatrix bar codes
for serialization, Videojet delivers solutions expertly matched to your
packaging line.

800-843-3610
www.videojet.com

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Nine tips for buying


liquid filling equipment
There are several things to keep in mind when selecting liquid fillers to ensure the right fit for
your application:

1. Understand how the machine affects the product. You need to think about
the impact of the filler on the product youre packaging. The state or viscosity of the liquid can
be inadvertently changed, based solely on the construction of the equipment. For example,
running a liquid through extra elbows, pipes, and pumps can change the viscosity, resulting
in a liquid that is much too thin. High speeds can also impact some products negatively. You
need to keep the product characteristics front-of-mind when selecting equipment.
Source: Apacks

2. Understand how the product dictates the type of filler. The type of
machine utilized for a project is often dependent on beverage/product characteristics and the
type and shape of the containers. Free-flowing liquids like beverages work well with a timedflow or overflow machine, whereas a more viscous product might be better suited for a piston
or positive displacement (PD) filler. The fill size or type of container might also determine the
type of machine used. Timed-flow and overflow machines are both good for free-flowing
liquids but differ in how they deliver product to a container. Timed-flow fillers are a volumetric
fill machine, meaning each fill cycle they deliver exactly the same volume of product. These

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continued

Nine tips for


buying liquid filling
equipment

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machines are designed for very precise fills regardless of the container shape. However if the
container varies in volume, the fill levels may have an inconsistent look. Glass bottles are a
good example of containers that often have varying inner shapes and volumes.

3. Know the filling challenges of handling beverages with pulp or fruit


pieces. Pulp or fruit pieces, otherwise known as particulates, require specialized pumps
and valves based on the size and density of the individual particulates. Challenges with filling
particulates arise whenever there is a significant variance in the size of the pieces. Pickles are
a good example of a product that has particulates with a large size variance. Small or soft
particulates are usually easier to accommodate.

4. Look at ease of cleaning. Pay attention to the cleanability of equipment. As with


any product destined for consumption, the machine must be made of FDA-approved sanitary
materials. Most customers, including beverage providers, want equipment that is easy to
clean and maintain. When filling bottles, keeping the nozzle clean is of primary importance
to good manufacturing practices. Simpler design is better: Make sure the equipment doesnt
have nooks and crannies that can harbor microorganisms. Also look for filling machines that
have clean-in-place systems as a standard feature.

5. Lighten up. Plastic bottle lightweighting continues to be a major trend, and with cost
and sustainability advantages, this trend isnt going away anytime soon. So be sure to look for
unscrambling and filling technologies that will accommodate progressively thinner bottles.
Feather bottles, down to just seven grams of plastic for a half-liter bottle, with a short-skirted
cap, call for kinder, gentler unscrambling and filling.

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continued

Nine tips for


buying liquid filling
equipment

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6. Dont give away product. Dont accept a vendor giving you a general average
in weight variation. You need to know what that percentage is at the actual container sizes
you intend to run today and in the future. Giveaway can actually vary slightly at different
container sizes.

7. Avoid complexity. Complex fillers equal complex maintenance needs. The simpler
the machine, the less maintenance, the less training, and the fewer parts that need to be
kept on hand. Watch for parts or components that may have the potential to break off. If you
dont have a screen prior to the fill head or nozzle, pieces of metal or plastic can get into your
product. Even good inspection systems may not be 100% effective in detecting a piece of
metal or plastic in a metal can.

8. Ask about changeover times. If you know youre filling different products, or
that you may be someday, you need to know about changeover times. Changeover time
reductions are a key factor in boosting efficiency. The goal is quick, repeatable changeovers,
so you can get your line up and running again as soon as possible.

9. Know what you need today, but have flexibility for tomorrow. When
selecting a machine, keep an eye on future output. See into Year Two, and think about future
new products and their filling needs. Look vertically across your products, as well as upstream
in the supply chain. What happens if a key ingredient in the formula of your product changes?
Does this mean your nozzles may become ineffective? Think about future filling challenges.

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Best practices when implementing


weigh/filling equipment
Weighing can be the most important operation in food processing, and the one with the
highest ROI within your plant. While almost any filling machine can potentially be set up to fill
by weight, weigh filling is more often used with dry products, such as powders or granules.
The challenge is determining the best solution for not only weighing, but also for handling
your product properly to minimize any degradation after the weigher. Confidence in both
the equipment and the supplier is vital when you consider the typical life of a weigher can be
more than 25 years. Here are some best practices:

1. Determine the overall system goals, looking at each transfer point.


Carefully specifying each component of a system (like a weigher) is important, but all
components must work in concert to achieve the desired output, which is accurately filled
packages and efficiently running equipment.

Source: Weighpack

2. Review your products flow characteristics with prospective


suppliers. Send product samples for machine builders to test and ideally videotape. This
is time-consuming and somewhat tricky if your product tends to change with transport and
handling, like produce. The trickier the product, the more important the validation.

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Best practices when


implementing weigh/
filling equipment

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3. Carefully examine and document your facilitys environmental


conditions. This includes humidity and temperature of the filling area, as well as bulk
storage. Depending on what is being filled, these conditions may have a damaging effect on
the product. They can even change the consistency of the product enough to have an adverse
effect on the equipments filling ability.

4. Make sure your sanitation practices and maintenance are top-notch.


Avoid product buildup on tooling and control services. Choose equipment that is easy to
disassemble and clean on a daily basis or as required. Follow a rigorous maintenance schedule
to ensure top production output.

5. Consider how weighing/filling is affected by fresh, frozen, dry, fragile


product. Weighing is affected by all product conditions, both physical and environmental.
The same product will convey, transfer, fall, and handle in a completely different manner
when fresh as compared to when it is frozen. The supplier should also have a large selection
of application-specific weighers to choose from, such as:

Gentle-slope weighers for fragile products.


USDA Dairy-approved systems if applicable.
Weighers for fresh, sticky, and large-piece products, such as poultry.

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continued

Best practices when implementing


weigh/filling equipment

Weighers designed for RTE (ready to eat) fresh

products, such as salad kits, etc., which are extremely


popular right now but are challenging because they
may change in shipment, and are hard to validate.

6. Consider the unique challenges of


granulars and particulates. Your supplier should
have a range of weigher models to handle different target
weights of granular and powder products. Consider
specifying sift-proof hoppers for your weigher, as well as a
dust collector for products that create high concentrations
of airborne particulates. You might also want some sort
of secondary automatic bulk loading of product to the
equipment so that the machine is never under- or overfilled with product.

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Key implications of FSMA for


food packaging suppliers
BY ELIZABETH BARR FAWELL

On Jan. 4, 2011, President Barack Obama signed into law historic food safety legislation the
FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). The law has two major themes: prevention and
accountability. Prevention means that food companies need to have controls in place during
manufacturing to assure the safety of their products and to prevent problems (not just react to
them after-the-fact). Accountability means that food companies are accountable to the Food
and Drug Administration (FDA) to help ensure that their suppliers are making safe ingredients.
Although the law primarily has significant implications for food manufacturers, importers, and
the fresh produce industry, it also affects the food packaging industry. Importantly, not all
provisions in FSMA apply to food packaging in the same way. Some provisions of the new law
make food packaging manufacturers accountable to FDA, while other provisions make food
packaging manufacturers accountable to their customers. In order to help keep everything
straight, I encourage you to think about a few key principles as you read on.

First, who does the legal requirement apply to? Some requirements apply to food

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as defined in the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA), and others apply to
registered food facilities.
Second, where is your business in the supply chain? Are you acting as a seller or as an
importer/buyer?
Third, who cares about your activities? Is it FDA or your customers (or both)?

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continued

Key implications
of FSMA for food
packaging suppliers

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There are two major provisions in FSMA that are particularly relevant to food packaging
manufacturers and their relationships with their food-industry customers: Preventive Controls
and the Foreign Supplier Verification Program. Third-party certification is a tool that may help
ease compliance for food packaging companies.

Preventive Controls
The Preventive Controls provision is found in Section 103 of FSMA (FFDCA Section 418). It
requires all registered food facilities to evaluate the hazards that could affect food manufactured,
processed, packed, or held by the facility and to identify and implement preventive controls to
significantly minimize or prevent the occurrence of such hazards and provide assurances that the
food is not adulterated and does not contain any undeclared allergens.
As stated above, this requirement applies to all food facilities registered as required by Section
415 of the FFDCA. By regulation, FDA has exempted food packaging companies from the
registration requirement (it defined food to exclude food contact substances). This means
that these companies are exempt from the legal requirement to comply with the Preventive
Controls provisionmeaning such companies are not accountable to the FDA. But in practice,
they are still accountable to their customers.
Although food packaging manufacturers are exempt from the Preventive Controls provision,
in all likelihood their customersfood facilities that use packaging materials to package
foodsare subject to it. And it is important to understand that one of the preventive controls
that registered food facilities will need to have in place is a supplier verification program.
Because food manufacturers will be required by FSMA (and FDA) to verify that their suppliers

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continued

Key implications
of FSMA for food
packaging suppliers

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are making safe packaging materials, they may very likely require their packaging suppliers to
have preventive controls in place so they can meet their legal obligations.
Remember two of our key principles from above: Where are you in the supply chain? Who
cares? In this case, if you are selling food packaging materials to food manufacturers, FDA will
not require you to have preventive controls. Nonetheless, because food manufacturers (your
customers) are accountable to FDA, you will be subject to your customers oversight. And your
customers may require you to comply with the Preventive Controls provision or otherwise
assure them that your packaging materials are safe.

The Foreign Supplier Verification Program

FSMAs Preventive Controls and Foreign


Supplier Verification Program provisions
are of particular relevance to food
packaging suppliers.

The second major provision in FSMA is called the Foreign Supplier Verification Program (FSVP)
(FSMA Section 301; FFDCA Section 805). This provision applies to all importers of food, and
requires importers to perform risk-based verification activities to ensure that the food they
import is produced in compliance with the Preventive Controls provision (if applicable) and is
not adulterated or does not contain any undeclared food allergens. There are two definitions
that are critical to understanding how this provision may affect your business:

First, FSMA defines importer as the United States owner or consignee of the article

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of food at the time of entry of such article into the United States or the U.S. agent or
representative of a foreign owner or consignee of the article of food at the time
of entry.
Second, for purposes of this section, food includes food packaging materials.

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continued

Key implications
of FSMA for food
packaging suppliers

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Therefore, if you are an importer, and you import food packaging materials, you will need
to have an FSVP. If this is confusing, lets look at our principles again: Who does the legal
requirement apply to? Unlike the Preventive Controls provision, which applies to registered
facilities, the FSVP applies to all importers of food, whether they are registered or not. Under
the FFDCA, the term food includes food packaging materials.
Although FDA exempted food packaging materials from the definition of food for purposes
of facility registration, that exemption only is an exemption from registrationthe basic
definition of food in the statute remains.
It is possible FDA may grant an exemption from the FSVP for importers of food packaging
materials in the regulations implementing the provision, as some members of the packaging
industry have requested of the agency. As of this writing, FDA has written a proposed rule
implementing the FSVP, but that proposed rule has not yet been published or made publicly
available. Once FDA releases the proposed rule, the agency must provide time for public
comment on its proposal. At that time, food packaging manufacturers can comment on
the proposed rule to FDA expressing their support for an exemption. Even if FDA does not
propose an exemption in the proposed rule, it is possible that FDA may grant an exemption in
the final rule. So stay tuned.

Third-party certification
Furthermore, there is a tool at your disposal that may help you comply with FDAs
requirement that you have an FSVP and/or your customers requirement that you have
preventive controls in place. The tool is third-party certification.

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Packaging World Playbook.pdf 1 5/15/2014 11:47:54 AM

EQUIPMENT STRATEGIES

WHAT ARE LABELS


COSTING YOU?
Looking for a cost-effective alternative to labels?
Let Matthews Marking Systems help you reduce your
costs and inventory with our latest high resolution
printer, VIAjet T-Series, and print directly on your boxes.
Cost-per-mark is up to 25 times less than adhesive labels
Bold, crisp images with minimal bleeding,
ideal for barcoding
New control platform for easy command
of multiple printers and production lines
Eliminate costs associated with labels
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Brand on Demand Print what you want, when you want

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continued

Key implications of FSMA for


food packaging suppliers
If you are an importer, you can use third-party certification
as a verification activity. That is, you can require your
suppliers to get certified. Then, meeting the FSVP
requirement is much easier. If you are a supplier, you can
use third-party certification to show your customers you
have rigorous programs in place to ensure safety and
quality. You can show your customers you are certified,
and then they can more easily satisfy their obligations
under FSMA. (Please keep in mind that you are not legally
required by FDA to use third-party certification. I am merely
suggesting it as a potential tool for your consideration.)

Conclusion
For more information about MPERIA, or to learn how Matthews can help you with
your marking and coding requirements, visit us at www.matthewsmarking.com or
call 888.622.7183.

In the end, the passage of FSMA means that big changes


are coming for food companies everywhere, and that
applies to makers of food packaging as well. As you think
about preparing for compliance with the law, be sure you:

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continued

Key implications of FSMA for


food packaging suppliers
Understand which provisions apply to registered food
facilities (Preventive Controls), and which apply to importers
of food (FSVP).
Think about what activities you need to engage in to
satisfy FDA (FSVP), and what you need to do to satisfy your
customers (preventive controls).
ABB Robotics. The broadest portfolio of high speed picking
robots in the industry.

Work with others in your industry to see if FDA will grant


an exemption from the FSVP for food packaging materials,
and think about whether third-party certification makes
sense to satisfy both FDA (if applicable) and customer
requirements.

The new 6 kg and 8 kg IRB 360 FlexPickers handle higher payloads with greater working
depths, and are able to pick-and-place up to 500 products per minute. Along with the
1 kg and 3 kg FlexPickers, all variations are available in sanitary models, ideal for direct
food handling or pharmaceutical applications, including a hygienic design for wash down
applications and an IP69K rated stainless model. Learn more at www.abb.com/robotics

ABB Inc.
(248) 391-9000
www.abb.com/robotics
sales.info@us.abb.com

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Auger filling equipment trends


and buying tips
What has most affected the design of auger filling equipment in the last year or two? It boils
down to these trends:

1. Greater throughput and reliability with servos: For more than a decade, servomotor technology has increasingly found its way into dry filling lines to become a mainstream
technology for all package sizesfrom club packs to stick packs, K-Cups, and single-serve packs.
This technology allows precise control of acceleration rates and revolutions for greater accuracy
and repeatability as well as reduced product giveaway. Along with the accuracy of turning on
and off cleanly with every fill, servos also can automatically shut down in the event of a line
stoppage, eliminating the burnout of old AC motor and clutch-brake designs. Also in contrast
to older AC systems, servos use fewer parts for reduced maintenance. These benefits, taken as a
whole, have allowed greater management of complex lines and greater confidence to expand,
for instance, a K-Cup filling line from two to eight or more lanes.

2. Quicker changeover: Along with greater control and reliability of dry filling lines,
machine design enhancements open new opportunities for making incremental gains in capacity,
especially in the area of changeover. For example, when reconfiguring the appropriate number
of filling heads for a change in package or product, new designs offer easy access to parts,
speeding cleaning and changeover. This can be seen in the reduced tools, and in some cases

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Auger filling
equipment trends
and buying tips

26 / 127

tool-less changeover procedures, that contribute to greater productivity for greater throughput,
while at the same time reducing the risks of unnecessary tools and loose parts in the production
environment.

3. More powerful controls: The wide adoption of programmable controls has led to
more powerful management and integration of filling equipment. Current-generation dry filling
equipment is typically integrated with upstream infeed systems and downstream baggers, such
as horizontal or vertical form/fill/seal systems. Additionally, checkweighers further downstream
communicate with that equipment to automatically adjust feed and fill settings and prevent drift
in weight and other parameters. The advent and adoption of control and software standards
have led to more cost-effective, plug-and-play compatibility for great reductions from software
programming to hardware costs that range from wiring and maintenance to spare-parts stores.

4. Increased sanitation: Particularly in the food industry, packagers are looking at


sanitation levels more closely than ever before. New laws such as the Food Safety Modernization
Act in the U.S. have prompted the design of machines that are more sanitary and easier to clean,
reducing or eliminating cracks or crevices that can capture food particles, and streamlining
extraneous machine parts that might inhibit cleaning. Suppliers are also upgrading from 304
stainless steel to 316 stainless steel, for the additional resistance to corrosion and staining the
higher grade delivers.

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27 / 127

continued

Auger filling equipment trends


and buying tips
Buying advice
When it comes to purchasing auger filling equipment, its critical
to make the equipment manufacturer aware of your container or
package design as early in the process as possible. A manufacturer
may be able to give input into package design that will positively
impact line speed. For example, if your container opening is too
narrow, increasing it by of an inch may greatly increase filling
speeds, as well as provide benefits to the consumer regarding
ease of evacuation of the product.
To select the right equipment for your application, the
filler manufacturer will need to know the target weight
and the speed requirements in packages per minute.
Accuracy requirements should also be known. These three
factorsweight, speed, and accuracyare not always
simultaneously achievable. You might need to give up one
to get the other.

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REA JET

REA L DEMANDS. REA L SOLUTIONS.

www.reajetus.com

Large Character Ink Jet Printer

Small Character Ink Jet Printer

Laser Marking Systems

High Resolution Ink Jet Printer

Your global leader in


coding & marking systems

28 / 127

continued

Auger filling equipment trends


and buying tips
Of course, this means that the product you will put in
your container is just as important as the container itself.
Products that are free-flowing like salt or sugar are handled
differently from those that are lumpy or prone to bridging.
Density is another factor to measure, and if you dont know
it, the machine manufacturer should have the resources and
capabilities to account for it.
A holistic consideration of package, product, and machine
characteristics can speed machine design, testing, and
successful implementation of your dry filling line.

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Nine best practices for


selecting capping equipment
There are few key things to keep in mind when buying and specifying capping machinery:

1. Know your closure. The tip we heard the most, from both suppliers and end users,
was that you must understand the tolerance of the closure itself and then marry the material
tolerance to the machine tolerance. You must completely understand all the geometry,
tolerances, and measurements of your closures before you order a machine. For example:
What sort of pressure does a snap-on closure take? With a screw-top closure, you might
be able to use 20 times more force, but how many times do you have to rotate it? Often,
packagers dont take into account the type of closure and balance the application torque and
removal torque required by the consumer. Induction sealers add another variable, as they
may loosen caps, requiring the addition of a retorquer. Additionally, every closure has a decay
time on the removal torque; you need to know the decay time, because it may loosen on the
shelf. Know this information and share it with your supplier.

2. Consider both the consumer and the machine. Because the cap has
to interface with both. Consider the size of the bottle opening from both a filling and
evacuation standpoint. Also evaluate whether to use a single-closure assembly versus a
two- or three-piece cap assembly. The geometry of the package must be considered first,
and then you should explore the type of feeding system you need to deliver the closures to
the capping machine.

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for selecting capping
equipment

30 / 127

3. How will the closure design interface with the machine function?
Before you consider centrifugal sorting bowls, you must know the height and diameter of the
part versus the length of the part, as well as the weight bias, to determine if it will sort well, or
at all. Other considerations include: Do the sidewalls have paper or not? This makes it more
unstable in handling. You must look at this in a very granular fashion; you must know what
the natural tendency of a part is before you toss it into a sorting bowl. Its critical to know
how the cap design will interface with the machine function. And you have to know that
before you apply any sort of force to it. You have to find a way to differentiate shapes in the
sorting bowl. Once you know the natural tendencies of a part, you can assist those tendencies
through the design of your machinery, and you will achieve more reliable operation when
capping and handling. One philosophy is to permit machine function to drive closure
designin other words, make sure that the design of the cap is compatible with whats
typically available in the way of unscrambling and orientation equipment.

4. Consider future closure flexibility. Like any other packaging machine, try to
anticipate future needs. Capping machines may need to be able to deal with a variety of
different types of closures over time. Over the years, cap designs and applications have
become increasingly complex: For example, spray-through caps must be oriented with the
graphics on the container.

5. Rotary capper considerations. When looking at rotary machines, examine the


number of heads and infeed method (starwheels or screws). A key element to look at is how
the cap is applied. Servo-driven chuck applications permit easy changeover to different
closure styles. Closure pickup is critical, as is chuck handling. Look at the cappers centering
mechanism and any anti-rotation devices to ensure proper closure placement.

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equipment

31 / 127

6. The need for speed. Think about how many heads are required to achieve your
current line speed, and make sure you have the ability to add heads later for higher-speed
applications.

7. Examine container handling and stabilizing. For some lighter-weight plastic


bottles, youll need to look at the machine to assess how well it holds the container tightly in
place during the capping application and torquing to assure a good seal, especially for food
products.

8. Test tolerance variances. Look at what your container and closure suppliers are
providing in terms of both the widest and narrowest tolerances. Test the opposite extremes
with one another and see how the machine handles it. Youll obtain valuable insight into how
flexible the machine will be with borderline materials.

9. Test known bad inputs. Deliberately feed in the wrong container and the
wrong closure. This is known as induced failure testing. This is part of trying to simulate
what happens on the third shift, when operators may be tired and not as aware of their
surroundings. What happens if material is loaded in the wrong way? If operators load the
wrong caps? Will that break the capping machinery? Better to find out before you buy.

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In-line cappers versus rotary


chuck-style cappers
In-line cappers are traditionally cheaper than rotary chuck cappers, which can cost up to 10
times the price. In-line cappers will typically have a smaller footprint than a rotary machine. In
many cases, an in-line machine can be mounted over an existing section of bottle conveyor.
Finally, in-line cappers typically have lower costs for the additional change parts required to
run different sizes of containers and closures.
Rotary chuck cappers have much higher speed capabilities than in-line machines. Chuck
cappers can be supplied with as many as 40 heads that operate at production speeds from
as low as 10 bottles/min to speeds as high as 1,200 bottles/min. (In-line cappers are typically
speed-limited to a maximum of 200 bottles/min. In-line cappers are limited in the diameter
of cap that can be dependably appliedtypically 28 mm to 70 mm. An In-line capper will
generally be limited to applying closures that are round in shape. Chuck-style cappers can
apply round, rectangular, square, oval, tapered, and reverse-tapered caps.

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continued

In-line cappers versus rotary chuckstyle cappers

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Chuck-style cappers have an advantage over in-line


machines when applying closures with tamper-evident (TE)
bands. The TE band typically has an interference fit with the
threads on the neck finish of the bottle. Direct pick-off of
these caps by the bottle results in the caps sitting crooked
on the bottle finish and generates a high number of cocked
caps with in-line machines. A chuck-style capper has a TE
cap positively held by the jaws of the chuck, and the TE
cap is brought down squarely onto the bottle finish and
held securely during its entire application, avoiding the
incidence of cocked caps. In addition, the capping head on
a chuck-style machine can deliver a downward force (top
load) onto the closure as it is being applied. Top load helps
force the TE band over the thread finish of the bottle neck
to properly engage the threads of the cap with the threads
of the neck finish.
This article was adapted from a Fowler Products Co. white paper.

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Trends in coding/marking for


primary packaging
BY MARTY WEIL

A number of trends are shaping the development of coding and marking equipment for
primary packaging:

1. Better integration capabilities. While equipment controls have remained


relatively the same, machines have evolved to integrate more effectively across the
packaging production enterprise, particularly to ensure that coding on the case ties into
the package itself.

2. Triumph of the visual. Not only has packaging become more graphic (see point 4,
next page), but coding equipment has also. Coding suppliers are incorporating better and more
colorful touchscreens to help simplify operation, improve productivity, and maximize control.
Even ink containers have become more visual: In many cases, bottles have given way to selfcontained cartridges that have meters for easy and more accurate visual assessment of levels.

3. Designed for traceability. Regulatory pressures at multiple levels continue to

Source: Domino

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increase the need for products to be traceable throughout the distribution chain. The food
industry has taken the lead in this effort with the adoption of the Produce Traceability
Initiative; it includes an action plan to achieve whole-chain electronic traceability by the end
of 2012. Other industries, most notably pharmaceuticals and CPG, are likely to follow suit in
the near term.

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continued

Trends in coding/marking for


primary packaging
4. Customer-driven standards. The requirements

one

interface

ink

that coding and marking equipment must meet are being


driven less by manufacturers than by the customers of
manufacturers, such as Walmart, Target, and Costco. The
way manufacturers are implementing coding and marking
equipment depends on their customer mix.

5. Response to harsh environments. In harsh


environments, there is greater variance in stainless steel
on bagger machines, but in environments with caustic
chemicals, stringent stainless grading is the rule. Also,
better bracketry is being used, along with print rollers that
are food-grade acceptable.

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Ten tips for buying coding/


marking systems for primary
packaging
Even for packaging veterans, coding and marking can be tricky. The equipment is high-tech
and high maintenance. It requires an extra dose of operator training, advanced cleaning
techniques, and the willingness to periodically update capabilities and analyze their
effectiveness. The following practices are recommended to those specifying new or upgraded
coding and marking equipment for primary packaging:

1. Know your operation. Careful analysis can make the difference between a successful
coding installation and one that experiences needless downtime, resulting in unhappy
customers. Once you know these factors, it will be easier to choose which marking and coding
technology is best for your application. Key factors to consider include:

Source: Domino

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Types of materials or substrates youll be marking


Desired speed of application or throughput
Print quality: permanence and readability
Up-front investment your company is willing to make
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continued

D-Series Laser Coders

Whether variable data, graphics, and bar codes are

Think small.

needed

Everybody increasingly needs to do more


with less.

The distribution cycle characteristics for your packaging

For the new D-Series scribing lasers, small


means more flexible.

2. Find room on the package, and room on


the line. Make certain an area of real estate on the

The new i-Tech scan head is beautifully


compact and fits where larger ones cannot.

package is available and accessible to coding and marking


equipment during the packaging process. To accomplish
this, make sure your packaging line OEM works with
your coding supplier early on to ensure all the necessary
requirements for integrating the marking and coding
equipment are considered. Too often, marking and coding
is an afterthought in the line layout, and packagers find
themselves scrambling to find an area on the package to
mark the variable information, like date and lot number,
and an accessible area of the packaging line to accept the
marking and coding equipment.

The multi-position head makes it much


easier to adapt to your production line
from any angle, even in the most restricted
of spaces.
Modular construction includes an option
of standard or IP65 casings, and makes the
D-Series lasers footprint smaller overall.
Altogether a more compact industrial design
(and 20% lighter) the new, smaller D-Series
is a big improvement all round.

1.800.486.7414

www.domino-na.com

Ten tips for buying coding/marking


systems for primary packaging

Domino. Do more.

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Ten tips for buying


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systems for primary
packaging

38 / 127

3. Know your coding options. Ink-jet doesnt work for logos on a primary package.
Some types of ink-jet technologies dont do bar codes well; use thermal transfer instead
for bar-code applications. Specify to the vendor the grade, printing substrate, and printing
application. Fully understanding the application will reduce costs and increase coding
efficiency. On-demand or preprinted labels? Preprinted labels work for operations that have
a volume of identical labels with many colors or complex graphics, because this option saves
both time and money. However, to be flexible and responsive to operational changes, ondemand labels can provide a solution for those with variable data.

Ink-jet, laser, or thermal printing? Ink jet works well for printing cartons and product
packaging, but is not necessarily ideal for all bar-coding applications. Laser printing works
for some bar-code applications, but requires an area to be printed on the label (assuming a
white label) that can be burned off to leave the variable information
Primary packagingplan to add or switch to these coding methods
behind. Its higher up-front costs (compared to ink jet) are offset by
the fact that laser printers run longer without issues, are cleaner, and
34%
Continuous ink-jet (CIJ)
have almost no moving parts. Direct thermal is a simple process that
Thermal ink-jet (TIJ)
works well with printed labels that have a short shelf life and are not
14%
exposed to heat, sunlight, or rough handling. Thermal transfer can
Laser
31%
handle heat and moisture as well as the vagaries of shipping and
Thermal transfer
15%
the distribution environment. When looking at the options, dont
overprinter (TTO)
just consider cost of hardwarethink about costs of supplies and
Print-and-apply labelers
19%
consumables as well. If you are presenting a prospective supplier
Other (please specify)
17%
with a challenging application, an online demo of the equipment
you are considering is always a wise choice and in most cases will
Source: Packaging World Reader Survey January 2013
make your decision much easier.

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Ten tips for buying


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systems for primary
packaging

39 / 127

4. Value versatility. How versatile is the coding system? Are you choosing a flexible
solution that enables quick response to new packaging substrates or configurations? Brand
owners understand that new and fresh packaging has a direct and positive impact on sales.
New packaging configurations are changing faster than ever. Can your coding system adapt?

5. Realize that no machine is an island. Can the coding system youre considering
be integrated for improved efficiency? Historically, coding and marking printers have been
purchased and installed as stand-alone devices. Today, automation and integration is increasingly
important for improving efficiencies and as a means of reducing errors. For example, packagers are
networking coding equipment in their plants, both horizontally and vertically. In other words, they
are creating a central command post that manages information not only among production lines,
but also among primary, secondary, and tertiary coding systems. The ability to enter a product
code one time and have it quicklydownload from product to pallet printing stations can save
significant time and reduce message entry errors. There are solutions available today that offer a
coding automation platform that provides a modular approach, allowing entry-level investment
that can grow into fully automated integrated systems.

6. Find a coding partner. Consider investing some time up front to find a coding
and marking partner and simplify your life. Most plants have multiple brands of printers.
This makes managing your printer fleet and coding supplier relationships complex. Large
suppliers that can install and service one brand of printers that serves all coding needs (up
and down the production line) can make your life easier with coding user interfaces, technical
training, and service programsnot to mention one phone number to call for your coding
requirements. Obviously this increases sales for the big vendors, but it provides cost and time
benefits for packagers as well.

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systems for primary
packaging

40 / 127

7. Know the operating costs. While initial cost is a significant factor, the cost of
ownership has the most impact on budgets over time, as well as effect on the supply chain
relative to production. You need to know operating costs: energy, materials, maintenance,
repairs, parts replacement, and service. Make sure you understand the impact of all costs
before proceeding with a particular supplier.

8. Prepare for future legislation. The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) will
impose new requirements for machines used in food packaging. You should expect, and
require, your machinery vendors to help you meet those requirements. Understanding how
your coding supplier is preparing and positioned to meet these requirements can reveal a lot
about their seriousness about building long-term partners versus short-term sales.

9. Invest in training. The real barrier to effective coding is knowledge. Make sure all your

Download
Survey
Packaging World magazine recently
surveyed coding end users about their
current and possible future usage
of coding technologies.
To see the full survey, click here.
http://bit.ly/Coding_Survey

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maintenance personnel have knowledge of the equipmentnot just one or two people on
each shift. See that the vendor-trained personnel, those with really detailed knowledge of the
equipment, spread that knowledge to all maintenance and production people on every shift.
This investment will pay off in reduced downtime.

10. Take the precautions equipment demands. When dealing with lasers, product
must be well-guarded and people must be protected. You must have a fume-extraction process
in place, so whatever youre burning off doesnt stay in the environment. With ink-jet printers,
consider self-cleaning options to eliminate problems associated with clogging. System design
should be hygienic, preventing foreign materials from adulterating the ink.

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Comparing coding technologies


Continuous Ink Jet (CIJ) and Thermal Ink Jet (TIJ) are the two predominant ink-jet
technologies used in primary package industrial coding applications. Laser systems, which
have experienced steady increases in adoption over the past 10 years, are offering a third
option in industrial coding applications. Thermal Transfer Overprinting (TTO) has found
increasing application with flexible packaging. Each technology has an inherent set of
operating considerations. When choosing among them, it is useful to consider the strengths
of each technology.

CIJ strengths:

It adheres to most packaging materials and can be used on curved surfaces, such as the
bottom of a soda can.

Source: Videojet

It is capable of achieving very high speeds for alphanumeric codes.


Many small-character CIJ printers are portable and can be moved from line to line as
needs arise.

The latest generation has significantly improved reliability with decreased maintenance
requirements.

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Comparing coding
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Small-character CIJ printers create lot codes, expiration dates, bar codes, and graphics

on a wide variety of primary packaging, while large-character CIJ printers do the same
for secondary packaging, such as cartons and corrugated boxes.

TIJ strengths:

Works well on porous and semi-porous materials (e.g., chipboard cartons with an

uncoated printing area). The high resolution (typically 300 dpi or above) makes it an
excellent choice when visual appearance of a bar code is important or when used with
a camera-based code verification system.

Maintenance is simplified because the print head and ink are contained in a low-

cost, disposable cartridge. In the last few years, significant improvements to ink-jet
printers make them cleaner and easier to use, regardless of which technology is being
employed.

TIJ printers enable high-speed coding of serialized data and many types of bar codes,
including GS1 DataMatrix, to be compatible with track-and-trace applications.

Advancements in print-head technology include automated cleaning and a perforated


design that reduces ink and debris build-up across the face of the print head.

Source: Videojet

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Comparing coding
technologies

43 / 127

TIJ printers are inherently clean and easy to use due to their replaceable cartridge

design. As inks become available that are darker and deliver better dry times, and
printer vendors offer more rugged industrial designs, TIJ technology is experiencing
increased adoption.

Laser strengths:

While requiring a higher initial investment, lasers offer high reliability with minimal

maintenance and good print quality. These factors will continue to drive an increased
usage of lasers in industrial coding applications.

It can be used for marking numerical codes, 2D-matrix and bar codes, logos, and
symbols onto labels, sleeves, glass and plastic bottles, cans, kegs, tubes, blisters,
cardboards, tubular films, and caps.

The advantages of laser coding include speed, versatility, code permanence,

noncontact operation, clean and dry process, maintenance-free operation over


thousands of hours, extremely low operating costs, and adaptability to a fully
automated line.

Source: Videojet

Lasers also offer high reliability in no-code/ no-run operations. This means that if its
mandatory to code the product prior to distribution, then production will stop if a
product is coded incorrectly.

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Comparing coding
technologies

44 / 127

Laser coding vendors are often asked about the difference between laser ablation and laser
color change. In most cases, the substrate will determine if you need to choose between laser
ablation and color change. Most of the applications of a CO2 laser are laser ablation, where
the top color is removed, and the color underneath shows through. There are some limited
substrates that actually change color when marked with a CO2 laser, with polyvinyl chloride
being the most common. CO2 lasers are often engraving what they mark, which can slightly
alter the color, as seen with PET bottles. When marking PET bottles with a CO2 laser, the mark
turns slightly opaque, which allows it to stand out more. That is, the color does not change,
but the material reacts to the laser to cause this effect. YAG lasers perform a color change on
most plastics, which is caused by the effect of the 1064-nm wavelength of the YAG laser on
the material to be marked. The best way to determine the optimum laser technology for your
application is to provide samples to your sales representative, who will advise you of your
options.

TTO strengths:

TTO features a thermal transfer print head and ribbon that makes contact with a flexible
substrate, such as synthetic films and plastic labels. Miniature print elements under a
glass coating heat small areas of the ribbon and transfer ink to the target substrate.

Print elements are program-controlled to create real-time images, including clean,


high-resolution bar codes, text, and graphics.

TTO systems can address applications in both continuous (moving) and intermittent
(stop-print-start) environments.

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continued

Comparing coding
technologies
Primary Packaging - Coding Options
Continuous
Ink Jet
Folding Carton
2
Metal Can
1
Shrink Wrap
2
HDPE Container/
1
Pouch
PET Container/
Pouch
Glass Container
OPP Container/
Pouch
CPP Container/
Pouch
BOP Container/
Pouch
Paper Container/
Pouch
Coated Foil Pouch
Foil Pouch

Laser
1
3
3
2

Thermal
Ink Jet
2
3
2
2

Thermal Transfer
Overprinter
3
3
3
2

Comments

Conduct laser sample testing


CIJ most optimal for this substrate
Consider TIJ and conduct sample testing
CIJ likely best option (for strong TCO and substrate
adhesion), but if laser or TIJ work, this could be a good
alternative
Laser is typically an excellent option

1
1

2
2

3
1

3
2

CIJ and laser used extensively for glass printing


Generally a difficult substrate to mark

Often limited to CIJ coding

TIJ may be an excellent option

1
1

1
1

1
2

1
1

Generally there are many coding options for this substrate


It is recommended to conduct sample testing for all
applications and substrates

1 - Best fit 2 - Good fit 3 - Not a good fit

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Delivering speed and performance


to keep you way ahead of the curve.

46 / 127

continued

Comparing coding technologies

Typical applications for TTO are within the snack,

bakery, meats, and frozen food industries, where


flexible packaging is common. Such packaging also
plays a big part in the retail hardware sector, where
items like screws, nails, and fittings for do-it-yourself
projects are sold prepacked.

Introducing the
ultra-efficient Uhlmann
Blister Express Center 500

Uhlmann Blister Express Center 500

Double-lane, integrated blister and carton module


Easy to operate with minimal downtime and
automatic changeovers
Handles up to 500 blisters/cartons per minute
Ideal footprint, less than 10 meters long
Efficiency guarantee (call for details)

Ultimately, when deciding on a coding technology, the


strengths of each must be matched with how well it will
integrate with other equipment on the line. It is critical to
match the production line communications with printer
capabilities, as well as ensure that the printer has the
ability to process the information and print at the speeds
necessary to meet production demands.

Uhlmann Packaging Systems LP

The

R
H E A T B E A T of pharma packaging

44 Indian Lane East


Towaco, NJ 07082-1032
973-402-8855
www.uhlmannpackaging.com
info@uhlmann-usa.com

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Best practices for specifying


conveying and container
handling equipment
Despite their importance, conveyors and container handling technologies are often an
afterthought. They shouldnt be. Things to consider:

1. Buy the conveyor pre-integrated. When considering a new line, its often
smart to buy the conveyor as part of the machine. If youre buying a packaging machine
as a replacement, it might be tempting to retain the old conveyors, but be aware that the
match might not be optimal, especially at transfer points. If the machinery builder supplies
the conveyor already integrated, it reduces installation costs (versus purchasing a separate
conveyor), installation time, and line commissioning of I/O devices. This will also ensure that
no stand-alone control cabinet is required and that all variable frequency drives (VFDs) and
devices, and the power panel and PLC control panel are assembled onto the conveyor legs
and frame. All the information will show up on one screenmotors, alarms, and controllers
making things simpler for the operator, technicians, and engineering staff.

2. Understand how your containers behave. You need to consider package


geometry, center of gravity, and mass when specifying conveyors. For example, empty
PET bottles act differently under pressure compared to filled bottles; hence the conveying
and container handling has different requirements on different stages of the line. Fully

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understanding your package geometry can also help you avoid excessive back-pressure.
When youre feeding a product, excessive back-pressure can force a package into a machine
before it is ready. Whether youre feeding, sorting, or unscrambling, back-pressure values are all
dependent on the dimensional stability of the package; so, you need to completely understand
your package or container spec when asking a vendor to design a starwheel or a timing screw
around the package. Everything depends on form and shape. Starwheels are good for certain
shaped containers, whereas timing screws are often better for rounded containers.

3. Realize that its all about control of the container. Conveying is rarely, if
ever, just free-flowing product or containers. Proper spacing, position, and orientation must
be maintained. The goal is to ensure that product flow can take place within a given footprint.
Conveying is not just a means to get something from one machine to the next. You must
understand what the next machine can handle. You need to understand the following:

Whether container control may best be achieved by single-file or mass conveying


How many lanes should be used
Where is the optimal speed
How to maintain control at the desired speeds with an unstable container
Whether the container needs to be controlled by the neck or the base

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Whether or not control can be maintained if something downstream breaks and


conveying systems stop

Is there adequate clearance and access to easily clear a conveyor of jams? Or will things
slam into each other, lock up your machines, and stop your line? Slower speeds may
mean a higher chance of success.

4. Carefully consider unique features and options. Some conveyor


manufacturers offer a simplified change of direction, having integrated features into
conveyors that turn packages at a 90-degree angle. Its done with rollers in the conveyor
mat top, and you can adjust the direction of the turn to your specific floor space. Similarly,
some engineers prefer to have VFDs on every conveyor. Its a great feature, but sometimes
that extra hardware is an unnecessary expense. Depending on your product, some things
will never need a change in speed. Think about whether the extra VFDs just add unnecessary
complexity, or are worth it for future flexibility.

5. Pay close attention to friction, cleats, and changes in elevation. When


conveying unpackaged foodstuffs with vibratory conveyors, it is wise to minimize drops
and stick to a general guideline that no drop should ever exceed six inches. Similarly, when
conveying delicate product, reduce friction by seeking out the most nonabrasive conveyors.
If you bounce your product against redirecting plates, as opposed to a soft landing on other
product, you will end up with less good product in the box. Timing screws can offer gentler
handling compared to starwheels, and also tend to be more compact.

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6. Consider a robotic solution to product handling. Product handling can be


an ideal robotic application on the packaging line. The most successful applications tend to
have these characteristics:

Where the product comes in randomly or not oriented, and must leave in a specific
orientation/order.

Where there is a degree of product variation in size or shape


(example: frozen egg rolls/burritos).

Where there is high changeover and plans for totally new products/packages in the
near future.

7. Look for ease of maintenance. The level of technology involved should be a


factor in evaluating the equipments total cost of ownership, as it can directly affect the
type of maintenance required, and the skill level of maintenance personnel. A sometimesoverlooked component of good maintenance is spare parts inventory and equipment
documentation. Determining which parts should be kept on-premises can be the difference
between a short stoppage and an extended one.

8. Put safety first. Conveyor accidents impact companies in lost productivity, workers
compensation, and even OSHA fines. Safety hazards should be designed out; however, owing
to the fact that conveyors have moving parts, there remains an inherent danger. Make use
of every safeguard available: Conveyors should have lockouts, guardrails, and other safety
features. Pay attention to operator ergonomics such as easy and quick access to emergency

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continued

Best practices for specifying conveying


and container handling equipment

find it

stops and speed controls. Not every aspect of safety,


however, can be factory-ordered. Your company should
have safety policies that include employee training. There
are federal government-compiled statistics on industrial
accidents, categorized by type of equipment. Its a good
reference source to assure that employee training, at the
very minimum, addresses the most common causes of
conveyor accidents.

Good enough to eat? Youll know with Thermo ScientificTM


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generation and analysis help you take food safety and quality to
the next level. And, products in our NextGuardTM, XpertTM and
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before someone else does


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are the property of Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc. and its subsidiaries.

Your partner in product and process improvement

Versaweigh Checkweigher

Metal Detection

9. Pay attention to sanitation. For food-contact


applications, pay attention to sanitation and cleanability.
If youre trying to remove cross-contamination between
products, make sure the conveyor belt design doesnt trap
particles. For food, beverage, or pharma applications, look
for conveyors with a minimum of nooks and crannies that
can harbor bacteria and dirt. Verify that if the conveying
chain is swabbed, it removes 100% of the product. (That
will be especially important for compliance with the Food
Safety Modernization Act.)

On-Line Analytics

US and Canada 800.227.8891


sales.packaging.us@thermofisher.com

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Best practices for buffering


and packaging line design
BY PAUL ZEPF

Whether or not to buffer a packaging line ranks right up there with Total Cost of Ownership as
one of the most divisive issues pertaining to automated packaging lines. We talked to experts
on both sides of the debate, and came up with the following considerations that can help
keep your lines moving:

1. Use buffering to add value, not cover weaknesses. Buffering isnt intended
for convenience, or to cover weaknesses in line flow and speed. A buffer may be hiding
performance issues upstream or downstream.

2. Higher line speeds require more buffering. The higher the line speed,
the more likely buffers will be required, precisely because the cost of downtime increases
commensurately with the number of packages produced per minute. On a line moving 60
items/min, no buffering is typically needed because people can physically offload product to
a cart. At around 100 products/min, it may be necessary to install a buffering solution.

3. Buffering smoothes out certain processes. Buffers may also be required for
processes that take time, such as drying packages emerging from a water bath, evacuating
air from pouches before filling, or the strict dwell-time and temperature standards of heat
pasteurization.

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4. Buffer to close gaps caused by intermittent motion. Indexing machines


and batch processes with gaps in their motion or flow may require buffers, as opposed to
the steady stream of continuous processes. Remove bottlenecks by using buffers to mitigate
intermittent gaps in flow.

5. Transition from processing to packaging. Some form of accumulation may


be necessary to accommodate quality checks before products are released to packaging.
Limiting the number of items on the line at quality checkpoints, however, helps keep the
focus on process improvement with minimal accumulation.

6. Consider redundant machines. In an operation where time is money, the cost of


redundant machines may be lower than the losses that result from shutdowns. One option
is to use some sort of bidirectional mass-flow buffer; another option may be to install, for
example, two labelers running at 50% capacity and split the flow. If one labeler goes down,
the other can handle the full flow.

7. Find the lines sweet spot. Some lines run best at breakneck speed; others are
most efficient at a slow and steady pace. Practitioners of the manufacturing and packaging
art often make the mistake of setting speeds too high, too close to design specifications. One
failure can be disastrous to productivity. Installations vary, but trial and error become evident
when you document your results to arrive at the optimal combination of speed and product
quality on a balanced line with minimal upsets or downtime. Trained personnel can choose
from a wide array of statistical analysis tools to arrive at the right speed for your equipment
and overall line.

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8. Calculate appropriate minimum buffer capacity. While there are formulas


that take into account mean time to repair and mean time between failures, a rule of thumb is
to set the buffering capacity to be at least the mean time to repair the problem. So if it takes, on
average, 10 minutes to fix the average line stoppage, your buffering capacity should be at least
10 minutes. For bagging or wrapping machines, if an auto-splicing option is not purchased, then
the mean time to change out the film must be factored into the minimum buffer design.

9. Each line is unique. No two products or even lines for similar products are the same,
so the same buffering system wont necessarily work on every product. Rigid products such
as cans can handle back-pressure, but frozen pizzas need more gentle handling, such as an
accumulator fitted with multiple lanes and drives to prevent traffic jams, toppling, or stacking
and shingling.

10. Let your filler set the pace. In an ideal filling line, the filler, which has been called
the heartbeat of the line, never stops. Because its critical to ensure feed, buffers are often
used upstream of the filler.

11. Leave sufficient space between machines. Just as automated lines are often
set to run too fast, machines on automated and highly integrated lines are often spaced too
closely to one another. If automation isnt state-of-the-art and fully trusted, plan sufficient space
between machines and stations to allow for placement of buffer zones. Remember to include
provisions for effective evacuation of nonconforming product at shutdown or start-up cycles of
critical machinesespecially fillers and cappers.

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Your Preferred Conveyor System


continued

Best practices for buffering and


packaging line design
12. Protect against electrostatic discharge.

With your preferences in mind, Nercon is changing the way we


manufacture our conveyor systems. By pre-engineering and
standardizing on a core product offering, we are easily able to tailor
our equipment to meet your specific application requirements. What
this means to our customers is:

Modern equipment minimizes electrostatic discharge (ESD),


but low humidity as well as machines that are isolated by
rubber, plastic, or other nonmetallic parts are prone to static
charge. Conveyors are a common source for which special
ESD belts or chains can be employed. Often, the fix can
be as simple as the addition of a ground wire to connect
isolated components.

4 Savings in time & money


4 Faster deliveries
4 Proven, durable, and reliable conveyors
4 Greater flexibility for modifications
4 Same great start-up & install service you expect from
Nercon
Were taking the best from our past and shaping an even better
future together with you.
Click on this link to view a video on our new Spirex Spiral Conveyors that
are designed to carry products between floors or machines or over aisles,
taking up minimal floor space.
www.nerconconveyors.com/Spiral-Conveyors.htm

844-293-2814 www.nercon.com

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How to calculate Overall


Equipment Effectiveness:
A practical guide
BY PAUL ZEPF

OEE Overview and Efficiency versus Effectiveness


There is a lot of confusion out there about OEE (Overall Equipment Effectiveness) and about
the words efficiency and effectiveness. Let us look at these things in an objective and clear
manner.
Is OEE just a nice-to-have? No, it is a simple yet powerful roadmap that helps production floor
people and management to visualize and eliminate equipment losses and waste.
OEE is not a fad. First of all, OEE has been around for decades in its elemental form. The words
efficiency and effectiveness have been around longer, but have only been used in a confused
manner in the last decade or so. To start, we have to make a clear distinction between
effectiveness and efficiency before we can discuss OEE.
Effectiveness is the relation between what theoretically could be produced at the end of a
process and what actually came out or was produced at the end of the process.
If your machine or system is capable of making 100 quality products an hour, and it makes only

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70, then it is 70% effective, but we do not know how efficient it was, because nothing is said about
what we had to put in (how many operators, energy, materials, etc.) to get the 70% effectiveness.
So if a machine or system runs 50% effective with one operator and becomes 65% effective
with two operators, the effectiveness goes up 30% (yes, 65 is 30% more than 50), but its
efficiency dropped down to 50%, based on labor!
The same goes for yield, or more commonly known as quality (basically salable product).
If you are bottling a beverage, all filled, labeled, and capped bottles could theoretically be
perfect, so the quality would be 100%. But if you throw away half the filled bottles because of
packaging or material defects, your yield or quality is only 50%. In this example, you would be
100% effective but only 50% efficient.

A simple example
Basically OEE is about (as the name says) effectiveness: It is the rate between what a machine
theoretically could produce and what it actually did. So the fastest way to calculate it is
simple: If you take the theoretical maximum speed (for example 60 products per minute), you
know that at the end of a 480-minute shift, there should be 28,800 units.

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1 shift = 8 hours = 480 minutes

Maximum production speed = 60 products per minute

480 x 60 = 28,800 units

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Then we need to count what we produced at an end point in the production process such as
whats on the pallet going to the warehouse. If there are only 14,400 good products on the
pallet, your effectiveness was 50%, right?
Not rocket science so far.

The A-P-Qs of OEE


Why does the OEE formula in
Figure 1 include availability (A),
performance (P), and quality
(Q)? What do these words mean,
and what value do they bring?
Theyll help us find where those
other 14,400 products that
should have been on the pallet
disappeared to.

OEE = Availability x Performance x Quality


OEE = B x D x F
A C E
Availability

A = Total Operative Mode Time


B = Run Time
Time Losses
Performance

C = Normal Speed
D = Actual Speed dr

Speed
Losses

Quality

E = Product Output
F = Actual Good Product

Scrap
Losses

Figure 1: The simple overview of the elements of OEE and


OEE raised the bar and moved
how they interrelate in OEE.
us away from the traditional
efficiency calculation as a
measure of production line output that was easily manipulated to show mediocre lines
running at efficiencies up to 150%.

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Here is the power of OEE. OEE, when broken into its three main components, is going to track
down where we lost it. Every day that we run 50% OEE, we can lose units in different ways,
and every loss has its own cost structure.
If we lose 14,400 products because the machine ran flawlessly, with no quality loss but at
half the maximum speed, thats completely different from producing 28,800 products at full
speed, and then dumping 14,400 out-of-spec products into the landfill.
Effectiveness is:

Making the right thing the right product or SKU at the right speed (Performance)

Making it the right way no rework, no defects, no waste (Quality)


Making it at the right time producing as planned, keeping the machine up and
running, minimizing time losses (Availability)
So how do we find out what we lost and where? And how do we prevent it from happening in
the future?

Availability
Going back to the bottle example, lets track down a normal day. A standard shift takes 480
minutes. Our operators take 10+30+10 minutes in breaks, as well as do two changeovers of 35

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minutes each and lose 60 minutes of machine downtime during the shift. The rest of the time
the machine is in the running mode.

Breaks = 10 minutes morning + 30 minutes lunch + 10 minutes afternoon = 50 minutes

Changeovers = 2 x 35 minutes = 70 minutes

Machine downtime = 60 minutes per shift

Total = 180 minutes lost time

This means we lost 180 minutes, and there are only 300 minutes left to be effective. Even if we
run the rest of the time at full speed with no quality losses, we can never be more than 62.5%
effective during this shift. This ratio we call Availability or how time is used.

480 minutes 180 minutes = 300 minutes

300 480 = 62.5% Availability

Lets see how we spent that 62.5% of our time that is available

Performance
Let us also assume our packaging system has an ideal cycle time or takt time of one second
per bottle, which is 60 bottles per minute. (Takt time, derived from the German word Taktzeit,

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which translates to cycle time, sets the pace for industrial manufacturing lines.)
This means in the remaining 300 minutes, the machine or system can make 300 x 60 bottles =
18,000. So if at the end of this shift, the machine would have made 18,000 bottles during the
time it was running, it performed at 100% speed. If production would be at a slower speed, let
us say the cycle time would be 1.5 seconds, it would slow down the maximum speed by 2/3,
and thus its performance would become 66.7%. The actual output now at 66.7% performance
is 12,000 bottles.

300 minutes @ 1 second per bottle = 300 x 60 bottles = 18,000 units

1.5 seconds per bottle = 1 1.5 = 2/3 = 66.7% Performance

66.7% x 18,000 bottles = 12,000 units

Running at 66.7% performance in this case equates in time to losing another 300 x 33.3% =
100 minutes or the line ran on average 2/3 x 60 = 40 bottles per minute.
If at this point, all output would be within specification or salable, what would be the
effectiveness?
From the 480 minutes, we lost 180 minutes in not running and 100 minutes due to too slow
a cycle time; so (480-(180+100))/480 = 41.7% so far.

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(480 minutes (180 minutes + 100 minutes)) 480 41.7% Efficiency

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Quality
Whether this is the actual effectiveness depends on how many bottles were within
specification. If from the 12,000 bottles, there were 3,000 out of specification, then the quality
rate of those bottles was (12,000-3,000)/12,000 = 75%, or converting to minutes would be
3,000 bottles / 60 bottles per minute = 50 minutes lost due to quality.

(12,000 3,000 defects) 12,000 = 75% Quality

3,000 bottles 60 bottles per minute = 50 minutes lost Quality

In other words, we lost 180 minutes by not running; from the remaining 300 minutes, we lost
100 minutes by slow running; from the remaining 200 minutes, we lost 50 minutes making
scrap. As a result, the line yielded 150 minutes of perfect running at quality and at rate.
Theoretically we could make 480 x 60 = 28,800 bottles. At the end, there were 9,000 bottles
that were salable, so the Overall Equipment Effectiveness was 31.25%.

9,000 28,800 = 31.25% OEE

Availability (62.5%) x Performance (66.7%) x Quality (75%) = 31.25%

Time equals money


OEE is purely time-based (time converted), but since one takt time equals one bottle, OEE
can be calculated in bottles for ease of use. Most operators will not say, Today I ran at a takt

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time of 1.5 seconds, but instead, Today I ran 40 products per minute which is the same thing.
Likewise, I stopped for 5 minutes is the same as, I lost 200 potential bottles I should have made.
OEE helps to create this kind of awareness; with operators, with engineers, with logistic
departments, and with anybody else involved in the value-adding process. It gives a common
language to everybody involved in manufacturing and leads to effective and efficient
improvements.

The straightforward approach to OEE


OEE and its basic approach have been around for decades in other industries and have
recently moved into the packaging area. Although the concepts are fairly simple, their
definitions and application have varied considerably, preventing any ability to use them
as benchmarks and performance tools within and between plants, let alone between
companies. The idea is to present a common definition and straightforward spreadsheet
format to bring about a clear, common approach.

A practical definition of OEE


OEE is the Overall Equipment Effectiveness of a defined production process during the
defined operative period or mode in which all activities related to production, personnel,
and inputs are accounted for during all producing or dependent activities within a defined
scheduled time or operative mode time. The defined production process is the start and
end boundary under review, such as depalletizing to palletizing, or making it through to
warehousing.

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OEE is defined as the product or cost function or interplay of all availability or uptime of the
operative mode multiplied by the performance or actual resultant production speed (from
actual dialled rate and ramping rates) divided by the normal or steady-state speed and
then multiplied by the quality or the output of quality product divided by the input of the
critical component or aggregate of all the inputs (components consumed, lost, reworked,
destroyed, or unaccounted for during the production process). For a diagram, please refer
back to Figure 1.
Quality is a fraction that is 1 minus the waste (waste and rework). Rework is usually
considered within quality, but is the most difficult to segregate out. Quality does not typically
relate to defective components not staged to the production line, but once staged to the
production line, they have to be considered. This forces out pre-checks, because once it hits
the production line, there are time and impacts to the ongoing production process such as
removing and replacing staged defective products, materials, and supplies.

Scope of analysis
Although OEE could be done on a machine-by-machine or product-by-product basis or a
shift-by-shift basis, it is usually the amalgamation of one weeks or one months production of
a given size and product (by machine or line), because looking at smaller slices may not give
statistically relevant data for decision making. Trends or specific comparisons could be done,
along with looking at a months worth of production runs of the same product, family of
products, or extremes of product sizes and formulations.

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Looking at less than 10,080 minutes (one week) of operating time is not significant in and
of itself for decision making, but may be adequate for trends and verifications of a decision
implemented earlier to ensure positive directions or to ensure the anticipated results are
being achieved.
The reason for this definition of operative mode is to capture all activities required to
ensure the production process could be carried out. Some companies in the past hid their
changeover, PM, holidays, training, and cleaning by doing it in the so-called unscheduled
production time or dumping it on a particular off time, but really it is part of the nature of the
production process.
The production scheduled time is the time period in which allotted defined products are to
be produced, but process-dependent activities or situations must be done or considered
beforehand (such as holidays) to ensure the schedule can be met or be reasonable.
The calendar hours or calendar time are the sum of operative mode activities and potential
mode activities that make up a week (10,080 minutes) or month (average 43,800 minutes)
or defined period in which the asset as a functioning production element exists in the plant.
If any asset is removed from the process in such a way as to make the process for a given
product not viable then the expected OEE number is considered zero.
This also applies to product recalled from the market that is reworked or scrapped. A total
recall in reality yields zero OEE for the period that produced the recalled product. A partial
recall will only deal with the loss of the defined lot or batch within the total, but will depress
the OEE for that period considerably.

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Any scheduling and labor considerations are considered integrated within OEE. One
could expand out from OEE with other ratios such as schedule capability, in which labor
and scheduling times are evaluated and their interplay is calculated as ratios or costs to
operations, but OEE keeps a top-line view that fits for the vast majority of industries and
conditions in a simple but powerful way.
High OEE numbers are indicative of high schedule fulfillment and optimized labor. Schedule
fulfillment and optimized labor are a byproduct of the optimized process. OEE is the roadmap
for insight, direction, and verification of all other activities such as continuous improvement,
lean, Six Sigma, and upper-level accounting information. It gives the correct window in
viewing the Cost of Quality.

OEE and the Cost of Quality


The Cost of Quality isnt the price of creating a quality product or service. It is the cost of not
creating a quality product or service. (For details visit the ASQ American Society for Quality.)
Every time work is wasted, there is a loss that results in the Cost of Quality escalating. When
talking about waste, we can define or look at many definitions, variations, or types of wastage
such as: waste of waiting, over-production, inventory or work-in-process, transport, motion,
input defects, producing defective products, unnecessary process steps, and delaying.
In looking at operations, OEE simply gives the clear and powerful picture-window view of the
ability to sustain quality production or how Availability (time), Quality (good product), and
Performance (speed) interact. The losses portion is the fraction of the time that is lost due to

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the inability of the production process to be consistent and under control. These losses relate
to time down or downtime, rate losses in the process, and the scrap and rework generated
during the operative mode.
The operative mode is not only the planned scheduled production time, but that time
that encompasses the nature of the production process and its supporting activities that
are connected, dependent, or required to be done to ensure the timely production of the
scheduled product. This means that apportioned preventive maintenance, changeovers,
cleaning, and/or sanitizing are included.

The concept of downtime as understood in availability


For simplicity and order, the downtime of any machine or system can be divided into two
parts: planned downtime events and unplanned downtime events.
Planned events can be defined as those events in which no output of salable product results
and which management has control over the timing and extent of the activity, mandates
them, or the countrys regulations define part or all of them.
Holidays are always mandated activities dictated by management, government, or both. One
could argue that holidays should be left out, but that is incorrect, since it is a management
decision to not use that time during a normally operative mode, and it is not proper to slip it
into the potential mode.

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How to calculate
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A practical guide

68 / 127

One can break down planned events into as many categories as one likes. Beware, when
holidays are included in the analysis, some days or weeks or months will show depressed
numbers and need to be highlighted. Because of this, there is a tendency to not include them.
But one should include them as they happen.
One can break down unplanned events into as many categories as one likes, but the most
common ones are the unit ops or machines. The unit ops could be further subdivided into
primary and secondary machines, zones, faults, etc.
Primary machines (PM) are unit ops that are capital equipment that have a direct involvement
in assembling the package, such as unscramblers, rinsers, fillers, cappers, labelers, cartoners,
case packers, palletizers, etc.
Secondary machines (SM) are minor unit ops that convey, manipulate, collate, inspect, code, or
mark the package, such as conveyors, combiners, dividers (when separate from a primary unit op),
coders (laser, ink-jet, impression, etc.), checkweighers, X-ray, Gamma inspection, independent fill,
cap or label detection, and rejection units (independent of the major unit op, etc.)
Most companies, especially companies with no or poor ability to identify unplanned
downtimes or losses, should use the OEE macro analysis and use the lumped or aggregate
estimate number until improved data acquisition approaches the estimate number. All times
should be in minutes not hours, with precision down to a tenth of a decimal, for a more
granular view of the problem.

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How to calculate
Overall Equipment
Effectiveness:
A practical guide

Download
Presentation
World Class Benchmarks
Zarpac Packaging developed a
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http://bit.ly/World_Class_Pkg

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One can also look at unit ops as VE (value enabling), VA (Value Producing or Value Added), and
NVA (no value added, such as a conveyor that simply needs to get product from point A to
point B without inducing any quality defects).

A proven technique in manufacturing comes to packaging


Typically OEE is confined to the production or packaging process, but it does not need to be.
Making, distribution, etc. could be included or viewed separately, but the boundaries must
be clearly defined and the approach standardized across all lines and plants. Exercise caution
when using and/or comparing intercompany OEE values because they maybe useless if the
boundaries are different.
In fact, OEE was embraced by manufacturing industries, from automotive to electronics,
long before it trickled down to packaging. It is a proven technique, with extensive resources
available in the marketplace, and a useful methodology that can be applied to the smallest
operation with manual data collection to the largest organization with sophisticated
OEE software tools and automated data acquisition systems. And OEE is one of the major
applications justifying the investment to implement PackML.

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Trends and drivers for


machine vision technology
Machine vision is heating up. It can perform more tasks than ever before, and do them better.
Here is how machine vision is impacting packaging:

1. When size goes down and power goes up, performance benefits. Due
to miniaturization and advances in the power of digital signal processors (DSP), imaging
sensors, and decoding algorithms, traceability applications such as ID code reading, text
verification, label inspection, and mark quality assessment can now be accomplished more
economically by inspection systems.

2. New requirements are driving new technology. Facing increased regulations

Source: Cognex

in the coming years to fight counterfeiting and improve food and drug safety, major
pharmaceutical and food manufacturers have put traceability at the top of their agenda.
Most of them uniquely code each lot or batch to identify time and location of production
to make recalls more efficient and less costly. But this is not sufficient to meet the increased
regulations of the future that will involve traceability, serialization, and authentication
requirements.
Whether implementing traceability at the batch level or using serialized packaging to support
full traceability (for initiatives such as e-pedigree in the pharmaceutical industry or other
regulatory requirements), producers must deploy a broad range of technology and software

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continued

Trends and drivers for


machine vision technology
platforms, spanning all levels, processes, and systems. At
the highest levels, enterprise systems typically interface
between the supply chain and plant-level systems; at the
machine level, inspection system technology is used for
applications such as bar-code reading, text verification,
mark quality assessment, label inspection, and general
machine vision functions. Beyond supporting compliance,
producers are discovering that inspection systems deliver
value in being able to stop counterfeiting, prevent parallel
trade through unauthorized channels, and achieve greater
visibility into how products are made, distributed, and used
across supply and value chains.
In the CPG sector, suppliers are adding to this momentum.
General Mills, Sara Lee, ConAgra Foods, Kraft Foods, and
other major consumers of food packaging have formed the
Food Safety Alliance for Packaging (FSAP). This consortium
seeks to minimize mislabeling and is largely focusing its
efforts on suppliers of labels and direct-print food-contact
materials such as carton board and plastic films.

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Your source for complete filling and packaging solutions


Washing Sterilizing Filling Liquid/Powder
Stoppering Capping Checkweighing
Accumulating/Unscrambling Trayloading
FAT/IQ/OQ/SAT/PQ Validation Protocols

continued

Trends and drivers for


machine vision technology
3. The use of vision technology is spreading.

Experience + Innovation
Meeting production requirements since 1919

Vision is being used in more places throughout the


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the production process, problems can be identified at the
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time. A snapshot of todays applications includes:

Confirming package and product match, lowering


risk of recall

Reducing scrap by detecting wrong or mislabeled


products early in production

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Checking for torn or missing labels


Reading 1D and 2D bar codes, enabling track-and-trace
Verifying print integrity, ensuring brand imaging on
store displays

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Trends and drivers


for machine vision
technology

73 / 127

Detecting products damaged in operations such as cartoning


Checking date code presence
Ensuring that ink-jet printers are functioning properly
Performing date and lot code OCR and OCV, verifying that product information is
correctly printed, and that labels are placed on the right products

Providing guidance for robotic actuators


Gauging
Checking for roundness and conformity
Providing shape-based orientation
4. The PC-based versus smart camera vision debate continues. Generally,
todays vision systems are divided into two groups: PC-based and smart camera. Key
differentiators between the two include architecture, cost, capability, and development
environment. The primary architectural difference between PC-based vision systems and
smart camera vision systems is one of centralized versus distributed processing. PC-based
systems generally multiplex industrial cameras from a single processor to distribute vision
at multiple points on the production line. Smart camera systems combine distributed
processing with high-speed networking to provide highly scalable systems. Both approaches

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Trends and drivers


for machine vision
technology

74 / 127

have advantages. PC-based machine vision systems provide great flexibility in the number of
options users can select (e.g., line scan or area scan camera). They are easily used with thirdparty software, and tend to offer more power and speed due to sophisticated processors. PC
performance increases with each boost in processor speed, which makes new PC-based vision
systems well suited for the most complex or mathematically intensive applications. However,
because PC technology changes so rapidly, its not as easily replicated as off-the-shelf smart
cameras. Smart camera systems cost less to purchase and implement than their PC-based
counterparts. They are simpler to operate, maintain, and integrate into the manufacturing
environment. As they are less complex than computers, they are also more reliable, with fewer
components presenting operational risk.

5. Its a more colorful, detailed world. The depth of color vision tools is
empowering packagers. Newly available color vision systems are entry-level in terms of
price only. They are not one-tooled sensors, but highly capable smart systems with all the
abilities of their monochrome counterparts, plus specialized ones. A further advance is
the shift to higher resolution, which is prompting many users to tackle more challenging
inspection applications.

6. Simplicity is a priority. Continuing to improve ease of use is something that all


companies making inspection systems will continue to focus on. That (and entry-level pricing)
is attracting new customers and opening up new applications. User interfaces are being made
simpler and easier with icons, multilingual help text, and one-button operations for functions
such as learning a product. The more inspection system vendors reduce the learning curve,
the more they lower the cost of deployment.

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continued

Trends and drivers for machine


vision technology

Code accuracy and


print speeds matter.
Trust Videojet.

Videojet marking and printing technology is constantly advancing to


deliver more and better codes on almost any package type. From

7. The use of Ethernet is accelerating.


Inspection systems generate an enormous amount of
process information, compared to many other factoryfloor devices. As a result, they are one of the driving
technologies accelerating the use of Ethernet on the
plant floor. Users needed to move the large images and
data files, so they turned to Ethernet because most had
some in-house expertise with it at the corporate IT level.
Today, Ethernet is a key enabler for those using inspection
systems on the factory floor. Many systems offer built-in
Ethernet networking capabilities that can link multiple
sensors across the factory, integrate software for managing
inspection activity remotely, and share emerging inspection
information at all levels of an organization.

the printing of simple best by dates to GS1 DataMatrix bar codes


for serialization, Videojet delivers solutions expertly matched to your
packaging line.

800-843-3610
www.videojet.com

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Best practices in specifying


vision systems
The following practices are for specifying machine inspection or automated identification
systems:

1. Consider the following questions when evaluating specific smart


camera vision system features:

Does the vision system make it easy to set up applications, create custom operator
interfaces, and administer vision system networks?

What is the importance of parts location tools, and how can you assess their
performance?

Does the vision system have a complete set of image preprocessing tools?
What are character reading and verification capabilities?
How can you determine the repeatability of a vision systems gauging tool?
H ow do you evaluate industrial code reading tools and what are some specific
features to look for?

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Best practices in
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vision systems

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What networking and communications features are included?


What should you know about vision system accessories such as lights, communications
modules, and operator interface panels?

Does the vision system vendor offer a wide range of hardware options? Are they rugged
enough for your environment? Does the vision system supplier provide the support
and learning services you need?

2. Choose a system that supports the complete set of standard


networking protocols, including:

TCP/IP client/server to enable inspection systems to easily share results data with other
systems and control devices over Ethernet without any code development.

SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol) for immediate reception of e-mails on PCs or cell
phones when a problem occurs on the production line.

FTP (File Transfer Protocol) to allow inspection information to be stored on the network
for later analysis.

Telnet, an Internet standard protocol that enables remote login and connection
from host device.

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DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol) to allow an inspection system to

automatically receive its network IP address from a server, enabling true plug-and-play
performance.

DNS (Domain Name Service) to assign each system a meaningful name, instead of
having to use a numeric IP address, easing identification and use for personnel.

3. Consider the total plant topography. To integrate with PLCs, robots, and
other automation devices in the plant, the inspection systems must also support Industrial
Ethernet protocols such as EtherNet/IP, EtherCAT, PROFINET, MC Protocol, and Modbus TCP;
Fieldbus networks, including CC-Link, DeviceNet, and PROFIBUS; and RS-232 and RS-485
serial protocols.

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Metal detection, X-ray, and


checkweigh trends
These systems are getting more advanced and useful all the time. Heres a quick rundown on
where the technology stands today:

1. Metal detectors are increasing sensitivity and reducing false rejects.


For metal detection, recent innovations increase sensitivity and reduce false rejects.
Specifically, coil (transmitter and receiver) designs have been expanded or optimized, and
digital signal processing has been improved to remove noise and product effects.

2. X-ray is a fast mover. As a newer technology being adopted by more customers


every year, X-ray inspection is innovating faster than other inspection technologies. This
is because of its ability to find more than metal contaminants as well as contaminants
in packages made of metal (cans, metallized film pouches, foil trays). The X-ray source is
constantly being advanced by putting the complete generation system in a single box called
a monoblock. This improves the cost, quality, and reliability while making replacement
simple. X-ray detectors are also evolving to be more sensitive to changes and to have finer
pixel pitch to produce higher-resolution images. X-ray image processing software is also
constantly becoming better through the invention of new algorithms to find small, hard-tofind contaminants in complex pictures.

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continued

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2014 Nalbach Engineering Company, Inc.

Metal detection, X-ray, and


checkweigh trends
3. Cost and accuracy innovations enhance
checkweighers. Using a single controller to weigh
multiple lanes of product has improved the costeffectiveness of checkweigher systems. In addition, highaccuracy pharmaceutical checkweighers can mark and
verify DataMatrix codes to track and trace these products
through the complete logistics system, preventing
counterfeiting and aiding in inventory tracking and
product recalls.

4. Inspection as a standardized platform. The


trend in product inspection is to have platform products
that are configurable, upgradable, and standardized. This
way, systems can be moved from line to line or factory
to factory with few if any changes. This will meet the
needs to reconfigure frequently to increase production
in a particular area or start up a new product. Completely
customized systems are becoming less popular and
desirable for this reason.

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Best practices in specifying


inspection systems
The following practices are recommended to those specifying inspection equipment:

1. Demand interchangeability. Make sure all the inspection equipment matches.


Oddball machines can throw a wrench into the works. Typically, several employees really
know the equipment. Consider that tribal knowledge. Tribal knowledge of that oddball piece
of equipment is more rare than water in the Sahara; interchangeability helps ensure you
wont have to rely on it for survival. Can the data from one machine be transferred to other
equipment? Can it stop upstream and downstream modules? External signaling with other
equipment may be a requirement.

2. Check, and then check again. Have the operators check inspection equipment
on a regular basis. QAS forms are in place for things they should check hourly; these checks
are critical. Operators should be filling out quality assurance sheets all the time, tracking and
tracing according to your regimen. Then you can consult the forms and see when there was
a problem, or when one began. At times, you may run production without certain things or
machines; if the operator doesnt quite test correctly, you will be able to see that. So test and
retest all the time.

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continued

Best practices in specifying


inspection systems
3. Proper spacing is essential. For checkweighing,
make sure you can space the products appropriately
coming into the machine; this will assure your ability to
weigh them properly. If you do not have control of your
products, they wont be weighed properly or will be falsely
rejected because the equipment cant read them properly.
Conveyance speeds for inspection should be matched and
rated to product flow to avoid a bottleneck. Make sure you
select a checkweighter that can handle the pitch (i.e., the
distance between packages) your business requires.

4. Size your apertures correctly. In metal


detection applications, make sure your aperture is the
right size. Do your research, or it can impact the sensitivity
or readings and create too many false rejections. With the
wrong aperture size, you wont get the inspection you
expect from your equipment. Metal detectors are not onesize-fits-all.

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83 / 127

continued

Best practices in specifying


inspection systems
5. Isolation and vibration control are
additional keys to good metal detection. The
environment is key to metal detection. Recycled cases,
cartons, and overwraps may have tramp metal in them, so
the metal detector doesnt know if it is reading the product
or the package. What often happens is recalibration of
detectors, resulting in tolerances larger than they should be
and distorted pass readings just to get materials through.
This doesnt protect the consumer as it should, and places
operations at risk for the sake of expediency.

6. If what youre looking to see doesnt float,


X-ray may be your answer. X-ray is very good at
inspecting things that dont float. Theres a misconception
that X-rays see everything. X-ray inspection is not suited for
seeing wire ties or plastic tubing. X-ray does well with glass;
it can see stainless and all metals the same. The technology
has come a long way; it is much more reliable and less
sensitive to heat and dust than it used to be, as well as
much cheaper. Today, X-ray inspection systems cost a third
to a half of what they did 15 years ago.

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7. Educate operators. Companies must educate the operators about the amount of
X-ray to use in inspection, as its effects compare to being in the sun. Make sure they just dont
stick their heads in the machine; its not inherently dangerous, but education is needed about
proper levels. Operators need to know its safe, or else theyll call OSHA. You dont want that.

8. Consider all scenarios. How does your machine handle a stream of rejects (e.g., 15 in
a row)? Does it cause a jam, or jam up downstream? Think about a scenario where you reject
a significant amount of product; does your equipment have built-in sensors to let operators
know theres a stream of rejects? It should.

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Trends and tips for specifying


induction sealing equipment
Here are some recent trends in the area of induction sealing equipment.

1. The equipment has gotten smaller and more efficient. As a result, the
power needed to achieve a good induction seal has lessened. The use of cut screens has
also made them faster. Advances in the power supplies also mean that higher line speeds
can be achieved.

2. Anti-counterfeiting and tamper evidence still drive improvements.


Pharmaceutical manufacturers are most concerned with counterfeiting. So their seals are
getting more sophisticated, with graphics and holograms to indicate tampering and/or
counterfeiting.

3. Prices on user-friendly seals will come down. There are some newer
induction seals that are easier to remove, due to an added tab; this is growing in popularity.
Consumers appreciate the ease of use, but these seals are expensive, costing upwards of an
additional half a cent apiece, when compared to the cost of a standard, non-tabbed inner seal.
But the emergence of new suppliers could ease pricing pressure. Suppliers within the U.S. are
growing steadily, and globally they are multiplying dramatically.

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specifying induction
sealing equipment

86 / 127

Here are three buying tips for specifying induction seal equipment:

1. Know the major container factors. The two major factors to consider when
specifying an induction sealer are the size of the cap, and the speed of the production
line. If it is a food application, a wash-down enclosure may be necessary. Other factors to
consider are the type and composition of the container, the type of inner-seal material, and
the type of product.

2. Consider your power supply. What size power supply is best for your application?
There appears to be a misconception concerning the relationship between the kilowatt
ratings of induction sealing systems and sealing capability. While it is true that a higher
kilowatt rating generally means a more powerful system, this doesnt necessarily result in
higher sealing rates. Kilowatt rating is only part of the equation. The real secret to creating
efficient and consistent seals consistently is the energy transfer from one part of the system to
the other. Dont focus solely on kilowatts as a measure of high sealing rates.

3. Talk to allied suppliers. Talk to suppliers of closures, bottles, or induction inner-seal


materials; theyre constantly in the field and will know if a machine has a good reputation.

4. Know when a tamper-evident shrink band would be a better choice.


Tamper-evident describes the process that makes unauthorized access to a protected
package easily detected. Tamper-evident bands provide package benefits such as on-thespot visual confirmation that the product is secure; printability with information, logos, bar
codes, or other marketing-related materials; and the ability to cover inconsistent fill levels
or unappealing product separation. The downside of tamper-evident banding is that it

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What

Happens

When We Dont Conserve


The Earths Resources?

Reducing water usage is an important goal for the Beverage Industry around
the world. Eliminating water and lubrication from conveyor systems is a
proven method of achieving this goal!

87 / 127

continued

Trends and tips for specifying


induction sealing equipment
does not provide an oxygen barrier between the outside
environment and the product, as an induction seal does.
Shrink banding is simply a deterrent for tampering.

Contact System Plast at 866-765-8744


PowerTransmissionSolutions.com/SystemPlast

With a max load capacity of 5480 lbs/ft (standard


materials), System Plast 2508 and 2630 series belts can
be used in a variety of heavy duty applications including
automobile, car wash and high-weight food, beverage
and other unit material handling applications.

Induction sealing controls the internal atmosphere of the


package. So, if a product is sensitive to oxygen, induction
sealing would be the preferred method. Additionally, the
induction liner is a hermetic seal that provides a moisture
barrier that prevents product from drying out. Induction
inner seals protect moisture-sensitive products, such as
pharmaceuticals, from absorbing moisture, which can deter
their effectiveness. Often, packagers will use both a tamperevident shrink band and an induction inner seal.

Emerson, Emerson. Consider It Solved., Emerson Industrial Automation and System Plast are
trademarks of Emerson Electric Co. or one of its afliated companies.
2014 Emerson Power Transmission Corp., All Rights Reserved. MCAD14001E | Form 9873

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Ten financial justifications


for new equipment
BY PAUL ZEPF

Financial justifications for new equipment come in two varieties: hard and soft. Focus on
the hard justifications, which will require you to provide data to demonstrate a return on
investment. Then back it up with additional soft justifications for which you dont have
data but which support clear benefits. For example, you may be able to provide three hard
justifications that will generate more than $590,000 in savings over a three-year period. Then
you may be able to pick out seven other soft justifications for which you cant produce data.
You should never try to justify a project solely on soft justificationsat most companies,
there are too many accountants who will require hard justifications. Be sure to include cost
avoidance, not just cost savings, in your justifications.

1. Reduction/elimination of excessive maintenance costs. Even if you track


the cost of breakdowns, repairs, and maintenance to keep an older machine going, the math
sometimes doesnt justify a replacement machine. The key in looking at maintenance costs is
to take a take holistic view of costs over the life cycle of a given machine. And maintenance
costs, including costs of spares, vary widely in given applications and given environments.

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Delivering speed and performance


to keep you way ahead of the curve.

89 / 127

continued

Ten financial justifications


for new equipment
2. More sales due to more uptime. You can only
realistically use this justification if youre selling 100%
of what you make, youre maxed out in shifts, and if its
indisputable that any marginal additional amount you can
produce also will be sold.

3. Reduced work periods, shifts, and


overtime. This is tricky due to the nuances in separating
Introducing the
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Handles up to 500 blisters/cartons per minute
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Efficiency guarantee (call for details)

4. Full depreciation at the end of its useful


life. At the end of the depreciation period, the justification

Uhlmann Packaging Systems LP

The

R
H E A T B E A T of pharma packaging

fixed costs that you incur anyway (overhead, lighting, rent,


etc.) from variable costs (hourly workers staffing the line).
Also, by eliminating downtime you may not actually reap as
much savings as you thought because you arent necessarily
going to send people home and save that money.

44 Indian Lane East

is that you need a new machine to remain competitive.


Some engineers have found more success with this
justification versus relying on justifications related to
downtime or maintenance costs.

Towaco, NJ 07082-1032
973-402-8855
www.uhlmannpackaging.com
info@uhlmann-usa.com

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Ten financial
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for new equipment

90 / 127

5. Flexibility for the future. Financial justifications must acknowledge the fact that
packaging itself now changes so frequently, it requires machinery that can satisfy not only
the current project but package designs yet to be created. In other words, flexibility can be
its own justification.

6. Material savings. If you switch to a machine that will enable the running of a different
or thinner material, the material savings can partially justify the investment in new equipment.
You must be able to support this with in-in-depth analysis of potential efficiencies.

7. Less rework. This has associated costs in labor, space, scrap, and material disposal,
and the time lost to produce product that needs rework versus producing good product
the first time.

8. Keep scope in check. Scope creep can render all prior financial justifications useless.
Ensure that critical success factors are fully vetted during the financial justification process.

9. Take the long view. Once financial justification is agreed upon, it needs to be held
accountable. Often projects are justified, but a year later, its discovered that the goals were
never achieved. From scrap reduction to labor savings or whatever the anticipated objective
was, you need to ensure those dollars come to fruition.

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Keeping Your Production Line Running


continued

Ten financial justifications


for new equipment
10. Total cost of ownership (TCO). The topic of

For 39 years, Nercon has been engineering and manufacturing


standard and specially designed conveyor systems for the food,
beverage, health & beauty packaging industries. Its our in-house
resources our application engineers, our electrical control group,
our fabricators, assembly people, and service techs who enable
us to produce equipment and components faster and with greater
control over the process.
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4 Belt Conveyors
4 Mat-Style Conveyors
4 Systems: Laners, Diverters, Changeover, Mergers,
Accumulators, Dividers

TCO is among the most provocative of any in this Playbook.


Some CPGs swear by it, some swear at it, and some use it
as part of a process. TCO is a great concept that doesnt
get implemented well probably 80% of the time, says
one CPG engineer. While its easy to quantify acquisition
and installation costs, its a different story when it comes
to maintenance or sustainability. The fact that theres no
standard, accepted metrics for these can make true TCO
difficult. Another CPG engineer provides a contrarian view
of any attempt at estimating a TCO up front: You can make
up whatever kind of number you want on a new machine;
its crap on top of BS, its all based on assumptions. TCO only
works after five years, when you look at an installed asset and
compare it to an installed asset someplace else over the same
time period.

At Nercon, our business is to make your business run smoothly.


Click on this link to view a video on our new Rapid-Rail that is engineered
to simplify changeovers on the packaging line. It offers a single point, hand
adjustment of guide rails on the same piece of equipment.
www.nerconconveyors.com/Nercon/Conveyors/
Systems-Laners-diverters-Merge/Rapid-Rail.htm

844-293-2814 www.nercon.com

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Best practices for specifying


packaging machinery
BY DAVID HOENIG

There are a number of basic best practices that should be observed when buying packaging
machinery of any stripe:

1. Document and discuss your requirements. Every machine purchase should


start with an in-depth user-specification requirement so that no gray areas can slow or stall the
equipment-building process. CPGs sometimes neglect to spend time conferring with suppliers
on certain critical functionality aspects, and sometimes such aspects dont necessarily make
it into the specs. Not only is it a good idea to document all of the details, but its also crucial to
follow up with frequent teleconferences and checks. Some experts believe its important to
project-manage the supplier and machine buildout, going so far as to get dates and the names
of the people on the suppliers staff who are responsible for hitting those dates.

2. Get operators and technicians involved early on. Cross-functional teams are
often composed of employees who are too far removed from the production floor. While the
executives will, and should, eventually make the call on a specific machine, the input from the
operators, technicians, and mechanics (as well as the container, film, or material suppliers),
can prevent missteps resulting in having to refabricate parts halfway through a project. One
technique to involve line-level personnel is to hang the blueprints up in the break room
for weeks before you actually purchase equipment for a brand new line. The operators can
take ownership, be involved, and make notes right on the blueprintsand their specific

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continued

Best practices for specifying


packaging machinery
knowledge of the floor space can be extremely insightful,
and not readily apparent to someone who doesnt spend
eight hours a day there.

3. Flexibility of equipment for other


applications. Dont assume youre developing
requirements just for one particular package. Marketing
will most likely come knocking a year later with a request
to go to a different package size. All of your assumptions
in the beginning are no longer valid, and suddenly, your
equipment has limited capabilities. Youll be at fault
because you didnt think about whats coming next. People
put in high-speed lines that are not flexible enough to
change: Suppose a consumer unit changes from a 12-pack
to a six-pack; somehow you need to get more throughput
to makes sixes or fours in the same machine, so you need to
use more foresight when specifying equipment.

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continued

Best practices for specifying


packaging machinery
4. Dont just replicate what youve done before.
Doing so may be easier, more comfortable, and less risky, but
you wont be exposing yourself to new technologies and new
vendors that may give your package and operation significant
cost and time-to-shelf advantages. But, especially if its a new
piece of machinery, something you never had before, make
sure maintenance has all the documentation they need.

5. Dont fall in love with technology. The


machinery you specify ultimately depends on what the
product is: Leave your engineers hat behind and think
like a businessperson. If you specify machinery purely
as an engineer, you may be prone to fall in love with a
cool technology. But if you think like a businessperson,
youll find the right tool for the problem. And thats not
necessarily the cheapest machine, but the one that works
best for your product. The idea that one piece of machinery
is good enough because it comes with a lower price tag,
or an extremely lower price tag, can really create problems.
By trying to save money up front, you end up spending
more due to machine downtime, poor support and parts

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specifying packaging
machinery

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availability, poor accuracies, material waste (product and packaging materials), and so on. Buy
the equipment that is right for your product.

6. Determine speed requirements. This really breaks down into multiple


componentsthroughput (nominal, jog, surge) as well as the conveyor speed. Devise two
speed requirements: the speed required to produce enough product for the initial launch, as
well as the speed required for ongoing production. The overall strategy in approaching this
is the balance between short and long term. Try to build in excess capacity (15% is a rule of
thumb) for future growth.
Specifying speed requirements for machines can be dicey and is subject to many conflicting
opinions. If the first machine should run X, and the next runs 15% more, the next runs 15%
more, by the time youre at the end of the line, that machine is really running more than twice
as fast as it needs to. And vendors tend to overstate what the machine can do. If a machine is
supposed to run 30 cases a minute, it may actually run 26 really well. So the machine becomes
a bottleneck at 30. If you need 30, consider designing it for 35. Running a machine slightly less
than what its designed for usually yields consistent and reliable operation.

7. Put cost in proper perspective. When initially canvassing vendors, dont


eliminate a machine based on cost. One manufacturers price may include more options
relative to the other manufacturers. Also, dont automatically choose the lowest-cost
machine, because you may pay an additional price later on in reliability. Initial cost pales
into insignificance when you consider all these other questions: How willing and able are
they to customize the machine to your needs? Every plant is different, can they adjust
to that? Do you have dirty air, flour everywhere; can they adjust to your system, your

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machinery

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environment? How willing are they to do that? In short, many experts feel that buying
machines on price is a bad idea; its an important criterion, but it is not even in the top five.
You may end up spending more money in the long run modifying an inexpensive machine
or getting it to work in your application.

8. Conduct ongoing risk assessments. An underutilized best practice is to


revise your risk assessment throughout the project, perhaps on a monthly basis. The act of
continually questioning where things might go wrong may not avert every problem. But
having thought through potential pitfalls and having contingency plans in place better
prepares you for when problems do crop up.

9. Dont skimp on training. Consider sending production people to the vendors


factory for in-depth equipment and safety training, during or even separate from the Factory
Acceptance Test. Not only does it pay off in the end, but it can also provide the equipment
manufacturer with more feedback to design better equipment and operator interfaces. Its also
critical to schedule follow-up training, either to reinforce certain things after the equipment
has been running for a time or to address issues that have cropped up. Be sure to specify both
types of training as part of your requirements. Its key to have trainers with real-world, in-plant
experience. The best training curriculum includes a combination of both classroom and on-floor
tutorials.

10. Plan for spare parts. Make sure that your specifications include the identification of
common wear parts and that your vendor guarantees their ability to stock them in-house.

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REA JET
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97 / 127

continued

Best practices for specifying


packaging machinery

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11. Pay attention to service contracts. Also be


sure to establish good preventive maintenance practices
and schedules to minimize downtime.

12. Dont force the vendor into a corner.


Do not make the vendor promise something they cant
deliver. Some vendors are tempted, even with the best of
intentions, to agree to conditions that both parties know
arent realistic. It only sets up both parties for failure down
the road.

13. Consider outsourcing versus in-house.


You dont have to install a production line for every new
product, particularly if the longevity of that product is far
from clear. Ask whether someone else, such as a contract
packager, can do this project better, or cheaper, than you,
saving you the capital investment. Other considerations are
whether the launch window is extremely tight, or whether
this project makes the best use of existing plant space that
might be better used for another project.

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Vendor evaluation methodology


for packaging equipment
BY PAUL ZEPF

When evaluating packaging machinery suppliers, its important to follow a disciplined


methodology to eliminate as much subjectivity as possible. What follows is an Intermediate
Vendor Evaluation Analysis methodology that is well-suited to critical packaging machines
such as fillers, labelers, case packers, etc. Broadly, the process breaks down into four phases:

1. Canvass the field. Before you put together your Request for Quote (RFQ) document,
take some time to broadly canvass the field of suppliers and look at options, getting a
rough idea of prices and capabilities. A simple checklist of requirements will suffice at this
stage. Youre just looking for a rough guidedont hold them to it without furnishing a
formal RFQ.

2. Write your requirements document and RFQ. Put together a detailed


requirements document of what the project will require, and use that as the basis for the
RFQ. Its critical to have everyone on your cross-functional team review the RFQ before it
goes out to the vendor, to ensure that it addresses areas important to each team member.

3. Issue the RFQ. Youll want to issue your RFQ to ideally three, but no more than six,
packaging suppliers. With the responses you get back, rate them using the Intermediate
Vendor Evaluation Analysis spreadsheet tool (see download link, next page).

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Vendor evaluation
methodology
for packaging
equipment

Download
Spreadsheet

99 / 127

4. Conduct the Intermediate Vendor Evaluation Analysis. When you get


quotes back from vendors, rate their responses and plug them into the Intermediate Vendor
Evaluation Analysis spreadsheet. Make sure your entire cross-functional teams input goes
into the scoring procedure! This can be achieved either by everyone sitting around a table
and achieving a group consensus score-by-score, or by having each team member score the
vendor quotes separately, and then compare resultswhichever works best for your team.
This team scoring approach is especially critical if the machine or technology is a first-time
buy.
The Intermediate Vendor Evaluation Analysis spreadsheet tool separates the assessment of
the machine builder from the machine. The tool rates each vendor across seven key areas,
including prior experience, manufacturing capability, engineering and project management,
company management, support, delivery, and references.
Use the bottom tab to select a second worksheet that allows the rating of the actual machine
itself across nine key areas, including technical risk assessment, throughput, reliability and
maintenance, changeover, machine design, ergonomics, operator interface, safety, and cost.
You can alter any of criteria within these sections to be more specific to your company or to
the type of machine that you are evaluating.

Simple Vendor Evaluation Analysis


http://bit.ly/intermediate-vea

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To mitigate against the tendency of giving a middle-of-the-road 5 score to ambiguous


criteria, restrict your scores to a 1, 3, 6, or 9 (on a hypothetical scale of 1 to 10, where 10 is
best). This will force out a differentiation. If you dont have prior experience with the vendor, it
helps to speak to the vendors other customers who have similar products, and use that as the
basis for your scores.

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Tips on finding the right


equipment supplier
When choosing an equipment supplier, be well aware that youre not just buying a piece of
machinery to accomplish a certain task. If the machine is an integral part of your line, youre
entering into a relationship that is more akin to a marriage. Here are a few things to consider:

1. Be transparent and consistent. Suppliers can only quote solutions based


on what youve told them. If youre not consistent with the information you provide to
suppliers, youre not getting apples-to-apples comparisons. Try to avoid keeping small
pieces of information from certain suppliers just because they seem inconsequential. Often,
they can be quite the opposite.

2. Look for industry-specific experience. A company whose strength is in snack


packaging may not be the wisest choice for a frozen entree application. Manufacturers
often build areas of strategic expertise around certain industries and applications. Request
customer references for applications in your industry.

3. Dont make assumptions based on past history. Dont automatically


eliminate a supplier because of a supposedly poor reputation or a bad experience from long
ago. Conversely, dont skip customer reference checks from a supplier with a supposedly good
reputation. Things change all the time, and companies that provided bad service years ago
may provide good service today, and vice-versa.

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supplier

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4. Get out of the office and look around. Its vitally important to go out and
look at different machines in personwhether at the suppliers plant or another customers
operation. For some packagers, there seems to be an overreliance on equipment suppliers
to make the case for their machines. A supplier salesperson can visit your site many times
before you learn whats possible from one visit to a machine suppliers factory. If a trip to
the suppliers factory isnt worth it, its likely not a good fit. Most importantly, when dealing
with vendors, consultants, packaging distributors, and other end users, remember this: No
question is a dumb question.

5. Learn the suppliers processes. As you will likely be entering into a long
relationship with your vendor, you need to know how they act or react in a given situation,
from sale to delivery, from testing to implementation, and from training to support. Although
all of these processes can be stipulated in the contract, its really a good idea to see how the
vendor normally carries out such processes. If you force a supplier into agreeing to something
they dont normally do, it stands to reason that they may have some problems fulfilling that
obligation. Look at service: Do they have service in the country youre in; in the continent
youre in? Do they have a 24/7/365 support line? How soon can they get to you? Whats their
guaranteed time to get a mechanic to you? Things break, screws fall out all the time, the world
is an imperfect place; how willing are they to help you with the machine when it inevitably
breaks? Finally, try to choose vendors with qualified service technicians stationed close by.
Paying travel and accommodation expenses for factory-trained service reps isnt a bargain.
Companies without good transparent processes leave you open to mistakes; look closely at
every detail of the proposed relationship. Knowledge of processes can also give you a leg up
on risk analysis and mitigation of issues that may arise.

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6. What kind of relationships do they have with other vendors? As its


unlikely youll be equipping an entire line with machines from one vendor, its important to
know how they conduct themselves when they need to integrate with disparate machines
both upstream and downstream. Is the supplier interested in trying to understand your
process? What happens downstream of their machine? If youre looking at robotic machinery,
look at the vendors capability and experience in integrating robotics.

7. Can they take on integration? If youre looking to purchase some major pieces
of machinery, maybe youd like to completely outsource integration issues to one of the
equipment supplierswithout hiring an integrator. If you can find a supplier that meets all of
your other criteria, assess whether that supplier can also serve as a single integrator with full
accountability.

8. Involve operators and maintenance techs. Many experts on both sides of the
table believe there is not enough involvement of people actually running the equipment in
the buying decision, and that purchases are made at too high of a level. Maintenance people
and production people need to contribute a clear set of expectations. Get firsthand feedback
from operators, the people on the line, because the operations teams are solving whatever
problems your existing machines have day after day. Conduct a project kickoff meeting with
personnel including engineering, operations, tooling, and control teams, to clearly define
what will and wont work in your factory. It could be worthwhile to involve human resource
personnel, in the kickoff meeting, as they might have specific insight into the technical
knowledge of a given workforce in a given plant. The best machine in the world wont work at
all if your operators lack the skill set required to use it!

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9. Pay attention to machine construction details. When youre looking at


machines, take a hard look at machine construction details such as finish, platings, welds and
general durability. You know the conditions in your plant better than any supplier ever could.
Does the construction of their machines look like it would stand up to your environment?

10. Assess flexibility. How willing and able are they to customize the machines to your
needs? Every plant is differentcan they adjust to that?

11. Find out how they react when the chips are down. When things go well,
everyone slaps one another on the back. But when a project runs into trouble, you dont
want suppliers pointing fingers at one another. Though you may not get it, try asking for a
customer reference on a difficult install to learn what the supplier has done to make it right.

12. Clearly define and communicate your critical success factors. And
if a supplier is unwilling to agree to those factors, it may be time to walk away. Setting
milestones for schedule and revision is key; highlight your managements expectations, and
cost schedule. Is the supplier amenable to these factors? Work closely with the application
engineers in the project management group, throughout the entire process. Too often
communication dries up after the initial purchase is made. Figure out exactly what you need
from an overall system, and communicate that. Is the supplier willing to engage in open
communication, with weekly status meetings? Its important that you have clear objectives
of what you want to accomplish, that you communicate those objectives, and that you have
qualified personnel on hand at installation. Make sure its clear that youre only prepared to
accept the equipment in the manner that it was specified. You also have the responsibility

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continued

Tips on finding the right


equipment supplier
to deliver information about variations in your product or
process to the supplier, before you actually receive the new
equipment, so that the supplier can determine any changes
that might need to be made.

13. Commitment to support during start-up.

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Seven tips for comparing


machines at a trade show
Packagers look forward to the industrys major trade shows as a chance to see whats new,
and to shop for their next machinery purchase. You can make better use of these events by
following a few tried-and-true tips. When the purchasing decision is made, youll know that
your team properly evaluated the alternatives.

1. Do your homework in advance. Major trade shows do a great job of getting


the word out, weeks in advance, about who will be exhibiting, where booths are located,
and even which machines will be on display in each booth. Take advantage of this advance
information, and make plans to visit specific suppliers.

2. Choose a cross-functional team. Experienced packagers assemble a crossfunctional team to attend a trade show so that different points of view can be combined. You
should, at least, involve representatives from operations, R&D, engineering, purchasing, and
marketing. Agree on a plan for covering the show, either as a team or in smaller groups that
convene later to compare notes.

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107 / 127

3. Agree on machine criteria. Everyone on the team needs an agreed-upon list


of what criteria are important: Whether its quick changeover, versatility, robust design,
maximum speed, or a combination, make sure everyone is evaluating the machines on exhibit
using the same criteria. Some experienced show-goers recommend tablet computers as a
quick way to take photos and notes, record conversations, etc.

4. Set up appointments with the chosen suppliers. Its usually preferable to


set up appointments with three to five different suppliers at the show. This will assure that
supplier representatives make time for your team, take your questions, and are able to learn
a little more about your operational needs. Experts say that five suppliers is usually the limit
for a full evaluation at one trade show, but you may choose to collect info on more candidates
and narrow them down later.

5. Back home, rate equipment using a competitive matrix. When everyone


has returned from the show, you can begin the process of rating each of the suppliers
according to whatever Competitive Matrix your company uses. Leave plenty of room for
verbatim comments from team members that reflect their own areas of expertise.

6. Perform a financial stress test. As more American packagers purchase from


multinational suppliers, it has become customary to ask for financial info as part of the
evaluation process. This goes further than simply pulling a Dun & Bradstreet report. As a
prospective customer, you are in a position to ask for financial information from the suppliers
CFO or other top officer. Due diligence now may save headaches down the road.

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continued

Seven tips for comparing machines at


a trade show
7. Invite finalists to present at your facility.
Some veteran trade-show teams narrow the supplier
list down to two or three finalists, and invite each of
them to make a separate, more formal presentation
at the packagers facility. This provides a chance for
the prospective supplier to tailor the presentation to
your companys specific needs. It also lets company
representatives who did not go to the show have input.
Trade-show team members, numbering up to 60, from
one large Midwestern CPG craft a Consolidated Report on
both new and established suppliers, based on information
gleaned at the show. This report is then uploaded onto
the companys intranet so that everyone can access the
gathered intelligence. Suppliers that pique interest from
anywhere in the organization are invited to one of several
lunch and learn sessions at headquarters, where they can
talk about a specific machine, and take specific questions
from the group.

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Roadmap for a successful


Factory Acceptance Test
BY PAUL ZEPF

Factory Acceptance Tests (FATs) are a key milestone in any new capital equipment project.
With proper focus, detail, and team participation, a successful FAT can be the difference
between a successful vertical start-up and frustration as the plant struggles for days or even
weeks. Consider the following tips as a roadmap to a successful Factory Acceptance Test:

1. Provide a detailed test plan. The FAT is the time to discover failures or issues,
determine reliability, verify efficiencies, and explore how the machine should handle failures.
The test plan should be prepared up front and submitted to the supplier as part of the
Request for Quote (RFQ). The machine will not perform as expected if the criteria arent
specified; neither will performance be competently assessed. Clearly state in the contract all
the responsibilities, accountabilities, and deliverables, in a measurable way. These must be
quantifiable and agreed upon to eliminate finger-pointing. Doing so makes it easier for all
parties by eliminating second-guessing. Specify how long the machine should be dry-cycled;
24 hours minimum is recommended. Specify how many packages should be produced and
at what speed. Specify disposal plans for finished packages. Although youll pay for the FAT,
most equipment suppliers will agree to a provision that if the machine fails, any subsequent
test is free. Having a detailed test plan will help ensure that you dont shortchange the FAT.
Performing a brief, shallow FAT will inevitably show up as a problem in the third shift, nine
months down the road.

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continued

Roadmap for a successful


Factory Acceptance Test

A320i

breaking the
service routine

2. Push the envelope, but use the right


materials as well. In the FAT, use the materials that
will be put in operation during actual production. Not
using them may compromise test validity. You can stretch
the system with noncompliant materials and processes to
better understand operational flexibility (wildcard testing),
but the most important results will be those gleaned from
using the materials you actually employ in your process.

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3. Engage the operators and technicians.


Focus on the personnel who will ultimately be responsible
for running the machines, those who own the line.
Sending engineers isnt sufficient; the operators will
see what makes the most sense on the line. The people
who will run the equipment daily are uniquely qualified
to make observations beyond the specifications and
recognize issues or flaws prior to delivery. Additionally,
the ownership aspect is invaluable, as the best technology
going into a plant is not going to work if the operators are
not comfortable with it, or have no faith in it. Enaging the
production team early in the process is one of the most

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Your source for complete filling and packaging solutions


Washing Sterilizing Filling Liquid/Powder
Stoppering Capping Checkweighing
Accumulating/Unscrambling Trayloading
FAT/IQ/OQ/SAT/PQ Validation Protocols

continued

Roadmap for a successful


Factory Acceptance Test
important aspects of new equipment design. The FAT
provides a structured and empowering opportunity. Do not
miss this one!

4. Be smart about training. If training is provided


Experience + Innovation
Meeting production requirements since 1919

as part of the FAT, make sure the people being trained are
those who will run the line, not the engineers. Train and
educate the right people.

5. Create and follow a detailed failure


script. Make an inventory of the type of failures that

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youve experienced or might experience in production,


as well as expected outcomes. Use this checklist to fully
assess machine performance during the FAT. Machines
have a natural backup curve that is all about early failures.
Running, even dry running, is very critical; you can find
leakage, electronic failures, and more, and then make
sensible engineering changes. You cant reap the benefits of
testing if you dont do the testing. Changes made at the FAT
stage are the least-expensive ones; many times you dont
even pay for them.

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Roadmap for a
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Acceptance Test

112 / 127

6. Test parts replacement and changeover procedures. Test how long it


takes to replace the most common wear parts. Determine how to remove a defective part
and document the process in an easy-to-use format such as a One Point Lesson (OPL). Using
your technicians and operators at the FAT, practice changeovers, and start-up and shut-down
protocols. See where the users encounter difficulty and elicit their input and ideas. Leverage
the opportunity to modify the equipment, standardize the procedures, and document in an
OPL format with numerous pictures.

7. Check safety with a keen eye. Complete a review of the equipment from a safety
perspective. Look for poorly guarded areas and pinch points. Run your hands across the
machine (carefully), looking for sharp edges and burrs. Test to ensure all limit switches and
emergency stops are fully functional, robust, and appropriately placed. Test for flaws in all
built-in safety components. Are there any safety options missing? Is making the machine
LOTO (lockout/tagout) easy, or are there unexpected sources of energy that could cause
injury? (Lockout/tagout refers to the act of disabling all sources of energy such as electricity
and compressed air while physically locking down the machine so that it doesnt cause injury
due to movement while the machine is being worked on.)

8. Take your time. Take your time on the FAT, especially with highly customized
machines. Why would you take a million-dollar project and squeeze the FAT into a sixhour window? Dont worry about relatively small expenses. Some testing will be more
challenging than others. For example, high-speed testing can be difficult due to the sheer
volume of product needed for the test. Never trade away adequate factory testing to meet
a shipping deadline. You will ultimately pay the price for this in longer start-ups and lost
productivity at the factory.

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Roadmap for a
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Acceptance Test

113 / 127

9. Get a good integrator. This is key. Tie into other equipment suppliers; test
everything together. Sometimes its worth the money to run everything together on the
integrators floor. It costs money, but saves it in the long run. Get as much of the peripheral
equipment together on the same floor at the same time as soon as you can. Test as much as
you can. You can never over-test equipment reliability and range of operation.

10. Work with your supplier, and your supplier will work with you. A
successful FAT is in both parties interest. Not all (or many) machinery suppliers have factories
set up to perform a well-rounded FAT for customers. Some will build or mock up complete
systems, but duplicating a customers process can be very difficult and expensive. Suppliers
may be able to prove to the end user that their machine can perform in the manner desired
during pre-sales (or pre-PO) product-testing procedures. Once customers are satisfied that
equipment can do what they want it to do, POs are issued. Increasingly, customers are simply
looking for a video testimonial that the machine actually runs before it leaves the suppliers
facility, in lieu of a FAT. That being said, savvy customers will continue to demand FATs and
training in a suppliers facility before the machine ships. Some suppliers are expanding
their facilities to include more FAT handling, in a private, secure environment, where strict
confidentiality of all technologies is assured.

11. Know the difference between a Factory and Site Acceptance Test.
One of the biggest areas of confusion surrounding the FAT is over whether it should simulate
how the machine responds under actual factory conditions. In fact, that is the purpose of
the SAT. In the machinery builders plant, it may be difficult or even impossible to simulate
both the production volume and the conditions of your product, especially for more than a
few minutes. This is especially true if the product will be packed at a certain temperature, or

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Roadmap for a
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Acceptance Test

114 / 127

has a certain consistency or rate of speed coming out of production. Much time, energy, and
money has been spent in vain trying to address failures in the machine builders plant, only
to find that the machine works perfectly once in production at the customers plant.
The purpose of the FAT is to verify the desired functionality of the machine. On acceptance of
a FAT, youll be looking for items such as:

Completed FAT protocol


Maintenance and users manuals
Easy-to-use training materials
(OPLs, videos, etc.)

Standard work procedures


Standard maintenance procedures
Recommended spare parts lists
The purpose of the SAT is to affirm that the machine runs your product to your specifications
in its operating environment. Knowing the difference between a FAT and SAT can save you
and the supplier time, money, and aggravation.

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Eleven tips for a successful


packaging line start-up
Here are some useful tips for line installation and start-up:

1. Involve operators and production personnel from the get-go. While


engineering and purchasing may seem to know everything about a project, production
personnel have to live with the equipment on a daily basis. Get the production manager,
line operators, and maintenance personnel involved as close as possible to the beginning
of the project. (In the healthcare industries, its also vitally important to involve quality and
regulatory/compliance personnel early on as well.) Production people dont need to be at
every meeting, but they should be at the critical ones. The more familiar they are with the
equipment when it reaches the floor, the more likely the installation will go smoothly.

2. Dont be penny-wise and pound-foolish about the install. Engineers


often think they can save the company money by installing the equipment themselves. However,
having the supplier install its own equipmentor at the least, oversee installation according to
its standardswill save you time now and money down the road. The suppliers technicians really
should be present for the whole ramp-up curve; its better to pay for three weeks of their time than
to have them there for a day and then have the line go down for three weeks.

3. Use your best production people. Dont choose mediocre or unenthusiastic


operators for something as important as a line start-up. Staff it with your best and brightest,

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FAST.
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116 / 127

continued

Eleven tips for a successful


packaging line start-up
who can then teach the others. While the oldest staff
members are likely to have the most experience, younger
personnel may be more open to new technologies and
more readily learn how to properly run and change over
the equipment. This is especially important if the machines
are brand-new technology for the plant, or are considered
critical to ongoing operations.

4. Document what you learn from suppliers.

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Depending on the complexity of the equipment, it may be


worthwhile to keep a supplier technician or technicians
in your factory an extra few days. During that time, follow
the technicians and learn everything you can to fill in any
knowledge gaps among operators. Use all the tools at your
disposal to capture this information, from shooting video
to taking digital snapshots to simply writing notes. This
information may prove invaluable over time.

5. Document last-minute changes to line


layouts. Often during installation, adjustments are made
to equipment positioning that deviate from the line-layout

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continued

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Eleven tips for a successful


packaging line start-up
drawings prepared at the beginning of the project. Take the
time to go back and modify these drawings so that the final
versions reflect the actual line as built. Down the road, youll
avoid lost time caused by a mismatch between what the
drawing says and the reality on your floor.

6. Finish the punch list. During the line start-up, its


common to compile a punch list of minor adjustments and
then never follow up once product is being successfully
produced. Unfortunately, this can lead to problems down
the road that impact product quality. Operators are less
likely to bring these problems to anyones attention because
its always been done this way. The punch list should be
reviewed and approved by engineering, production, and
management, with ownership transferred from engineering
to production in a formal sign-off procedure.

7. Dont forget spare parts. Things do fail during


start-up. Remember to request a spare parts list and
order the critical spares so they are delivered prior to the
equipment arriving at your factory.

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118 / 127

continued

Eleven tips for a successful


packaging line start-up
8. Get complete equipment documentation.
Collect all the necessary equipment documentation and
specifications such as mechanical and electrical schematics,
equipment drawings (as built), and bill of materials.

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9. Establish performance criteria. Linking a


vendor payment to the equipments performance at startup can be a strong incentive for the vendor. As part of a
formal acceptance test, consider an extended testing period,
covering enough shifts (or even weeks) to really understand
the machines abilities and limitations. Consider extended
warranty and service contracts, especially for mission-critical
equipment. Be fair to the supplier, though, when demanding
so much; dont delay tests, or introduce a product change or
variation, without consideration of the suppliers time.

10. Consider pre-integrating the line off-site.

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continued

Eleven tips for a successful


packaging line start-up

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in production quickly. For this pre-integration, try to select


a vendor with the furthest upstream machine that has the
space for integration, or even at the company that builds
the processing equipment. Often something breaks or fails
during this critical period, and if a machine part needs to be
redesigned, it can be done far more quickly at the machine
builders plant. Its not going to be done for free, and not
everyone has the space to support it. Machine builders that
do are well worth engaging. Some packagers have even
rented a warehouse near one of their machine builders and
installed the complete line, wiring the machines together,
bringing in air, integrating controls, etc. It adds cost and
time to the scheduletypically two to three weeksbut
weigh it against the cost and time impact of running really
poorly for the first month.

11. Be realistic. Dont do too much too soon. Have


Metal Detection

a reasonable ramp-up curve. Many projects fail in hour


number two because theyre running at 100% too early.

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Benefits of PackML and


when to use it on your line
What is PackML?
PackML stands for the Packaging Machinery Language. It provides a standardized way to
collect uniform data across machines, lines, shifts, plants, and business units. This uniformity is
essential to productivity-enhancing initiatives such as Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE)
analysis and to simplify MES functions. It is being incorporated into ISA 88, the standard that
for nearly two decades has proven its viability in the process control world.

PackML:
Standardizes commonly used machine modes, states, and tag names, plus a modular
approach to machine control code. PackML does not impinge on a machine builders
intellectual property, it simply standardizes aspects of communication the way that Ethernet
TCP/IP did for non-real-time networking.
P&G corporate engineers Jason
DeBruler (left) and Dan Amundson
(right) reprogrammed a Pace bottle
unscrambler so that it would be
compliant with the ISA-TR88.00.02
standard, also known as PackML.

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Benefits packagers that include it in their electrical specifications and requests for quotation.
The greatest benefits come from integrating entire packaging lines so that individual
machines, machine-to-machine communications, and line control and data acquisition are
standardized.

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Benefits of PackML
and when to use it
on your line

121 / 127

Makes it easier for end users to get consistent data out of machines on a packaging line from
different OEMs with different control systems.
Reduces the learning curve for plant personnel by providing a common look and feel. PackML
is independent of the control system vendor or programming language in use. It integrates
readily to business systems with OPC, and promotes standardized, flexible data sets.
Makes the machine builders initial investment reusable across machines, which reduces
subsequent software development costs and time to market, while reducing the amount of
customized code to test and thereby increasing reliability. It predefines machine interface,
integration, and start-up. It also simplifies after-sale support.
When does it make the most sense to include PackML in your specification?

When ordering a new packaging line


When retrofitting an existing line
When gathering production data for OEE or MES in a multivendor environment
When implementing Six Sigma or lean manufacturing projects
Currently, the OMAC PackML committee has an initiative to document potential cost savings
for implementing PackML simultaneously with best practices for software modularity.

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Benefits of PackML
and when to use it
on your line

122 / 127

TR 88.00.02 is the official ISA Technical Report that provides the PackML state models, modes
and tag names. But dont expect it to be called PackML. Its an international standard that
can actually be applied to any discrete control process. The other half of the standard is in
progress, called ISA 88.05, and it promotes modular control architectures.
PackML state model demo
Download an interactive Excel demo
that shows how the state model works.
http://bit.ly/packml-demo
PackML defined
In this Wikipedia entry, see some of the development
history, objectives, and PackML functions.
http://bit.ly/packml-defined
PackML at Procter & Gamble
How P&G reprogrammed an
unscrambler to be PackML-compliant.
http://bit.ly/packml-pg-unscrambler
Order the standard
TR 88.00.02 is the official ISA Technical Report that
provides the PackML state models, modes, and tag names.
http://bit.ly/order-packml

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How projects fail:


11 pitfalls to avoid
Packaging machinery projects fail for a number of reasons. Here are stumbling blocks to look
out for:

1. Unrealistic expectations on both sides. Sometimes CPG companies set


a higher level of performance, either to help justify the project internally, or to pad the
number under the assumption that the machinery builder will fall short but still meet the
actually desired speed. The machinery builder may feel pressure to commit to a performance
requirement while suspectingor knowingits an unreasonable goal. Both sides are
now set up for failure and disappointment. Better to have a frank discussion over the real
performance requirements and align expectations before the project starts.

2. Poor vendor/application fit. Most machinery building companies are founded or


run by engineers, and most engineers have never met a problem they didnt think they could
solve. Vendors that contract to build machines outside their core competence area, or that are
simply too overloaded, may end up disappointing their CPG customer.

3. Poor or incomplete project scope. Dont ever assume that anything can be taken
for granted; for example, that the supplier knows your upstream or downstream processes, or
that they know the ambient temperature in your factory. Something that may seem obvious
to you may be a surprise to the company building your machines.

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124 / 127

4. Not adjusting the schedule for changes. Changes do happen, but projects get
into hot water when the CPG company expects machinery vendors to accommodate changes
without impacting the delivery schedule. An eight-week machinery project thats already
slipping into nine weeks may use a change request to justify that delay. (Were going to be
a week late anyway, so sure, well take on that request.) In reality, such a change may turn it
into a 12-week project, much to everyones surprise.

5. Insufficient expertise on both sides of the table. When specifying


equipment, you need to consider absolutely everything, and sometimes the folks who will
be operating the machinery know something that engineers on the supplier and customer
side wont know. You need to get them involved early in the process. Heres a war story from a
supplier that shows a good reason why: We were building a machine for a company that sold
processed and packaged spices. Garlic is extraordinarily sticky in a certain humidity range.
We didnt know that! It was not included in the 50 pages of specifications, they just assumed
everyone knew. We might have built them a grossly inappropriate machine; luckily, we
averted disaster because they happened to mention it at one meeting! Vendors dont know
the eccentricities and idiosyncrasies of your product that you do. The operators know, but the
26-year-old engineer that draws up the specs doesnt.

6. Missed launch windows due to different interpretations of lead time.


Its not unusual for the customer and the machinery builder to make completely different
assumptions about what lead time really means. A machine builder may define lead time
as the time from when the order is placed to when that machine is ready for a Factory
Acceptance Test (FAT). That could turn into trouble if the customer thinks that lead time
extends to when the machine is up and running on the plant floor. Not accounted for are

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continued

How projects fail: 11 pitfalls to avoid


FAT itself, training, modifications, shipping, installation,
and start-up. To avoid scheduling problems, make sure
everyone agrees what lead time really means.

7. Not adequately preparing for the


machines actual delivery. You as the customer

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have work to do after you sign the contract and perform


the FAT, and before the truck rolls up with the new
machine. Are all the utilities ready? Is there a clear path
from the loading dock to the machines new location? A
recent war story details the preparation the customer did
NOT do in advance.leading to a two-day delay while
an interior wall of the plant was knocked down. Do your
preparation homework.

8. Unanticipated additional container sizes/


shapes. A machine designed to handle an oval container
will have tooling thats not suited to handling a round
one. Take the time to think through all the possible
containers youll be running and communicate that to your
equipment vendor up front. If theres an oddball container

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126 / 127

thats throwing a wrench into the machine design process, the vendors need to know what
percent of the time that size will run, so it can be addressed accordingly. Conversely, tell
the vendor which container sizes and shapes are expected to account for the bulk of the
production volume. That enables them to optimize the equipment, to the extent possible,
for those sizes and shapes.

8. Pay attention to the line speed details. For example, avoid over-specifying your
speed requirements. Many assume each machine in the line should run 15% faster than the next
closest machine to the critical machine on the line. But if your labeler is the fifth machine down
from the filler, using this logic will require it to run 2X faster than the filler, which may not be
close to reality. Another detail often missed is ergonomics. One manufacturer told us they have
factory workers approaching thirty years of seniority, and they wouldnt have been effective
if they didnt have ergonomically correct height-adjustable tables. Adjusting the equipment,
rather than the people (like using a step stool), could lead to fewer injuries and downtime.

9. Dont count on integration unless you pay for it. Its a mistake to assume a
machine builder will serve as your engineering department and take responsibility for your
entire line--unless you explicitly hire them to do so. The machine builders job is to build the
machine, not to take responsibility for the line.

11. Define what success looks like. When it comes time to validate your purchase,
do you know what a successful implementation looks like? Failure is likely if expectations are
unrealistic and/or vendor promises are not verified prior to purchase. You can only declare
success at the end if you define it, and agree to that definition, in the initial specifications you
present to your supplier.

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this, wed love your feedback.
Share your thoughts!

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