To what extent can a case packer contribute to avoiding production stops caused by an anomaly or an overload in upstream machinery?
Let’s try to answer this question, trying to identify the causes leading to downtimes, but, most importantly, the factors that can contribute to preventing or avoiding them.
Case packer build qualities
Let’s begin by saying that downtimes caused by end-of-line packaging machines are rare. This is mainly because these machines are robust and “less” complex than a bottling or a food filling machine.
Furthermore, downstream machines are usually oversized, in order to handle overloads and ensure production continuity. To guarantee maximum line efficiency, case packers must come with high standards in terms of:
- Hardware – both with regard to design and selection of best brand components
- Software – Touch screen and pre-installed sensors programmes have to be stable and well structured.
Artema Pack also strongly believes in customising performance, meaning that both the machine and the software must allow for a “tailored” configuration, according to the processes and specific features of the production line.
The role of maintenance
Artema Pack machines are built to be “tanks”: indestructible, unstoppable and always ready to fight.
Actually, we have been trying to further reduce maintenance services by introducing, for example, automatic chain lubrication. Nevertheless, standard maintenance must be carried out regularly, in order to ensure the case packer’s proper functioning and performance over time.
As per user manual, the following operations must be carried out on a regular basis:
- Cleaning – die cut cartons release dust and residues that could damage machine efficiency over time
- Components check – periodically checking suction cups and mechanical parts for indications of wear.
Proper storage of blank sheets
Faulty die cut cartons – though rare – cannot be foreseen; therefore, an accurate visual inspection must occur before magazine loading.
In order to prevent downtimes due to carton jamming, blanks must be stored and handled correctly:
- Die cut carton boxes in the magazine shouldn’t be too heavy
- Cartons must never come into contact with humidity
- (even slightly) damaged sheets must be discarded
The importance of training
The goal of our post-installation training is to enable operators to handle daily operations and the standard maintenance of end-of-line packers autonomously.
In particular, Artema Pack tries to convey a working method for the whole packaging process.
User and maintenance manuals, which have been made clearer and more detailed over time, provide further help.
Case packer control software
The software installed on the case packer plays a key role in machine communication and, consequently, in predicting any problems.
Signal exchange and alerts with upstream machine – bagging machine / bottling machine, case packer – need to be selected and programmed with a well thought-out logic, to enable operators to predict anomalies and carry out appropriate operations in a timely manner.
Factors positively impacting on such a result are:
- Experience in packaging processes
- Cooperation with suppliers of other line machines
- Software design quality.
Conveyor belt system
It may seem secondary, but production downtimes can also be prevented with an adequate planning of conveyor belt systems in the packaging plant.
Take the case of a carton jammed in the case packer.
Through careful planning of the belts’ length and an adequate set-up of the alert system, operators have enough time to take action before production stops.
Once again, experience in end-of-life packaging plays a decisive role, just like being able to rely on a single contact person to design a packaging plant.