Packaging Machine Maintenance – 5 Key Tips
One thing is crucial for longevity and performance of packaging equipment – maintenance. Good maintenance is one way to minimize downtime and keep the costs low. What is the winning formula? The right maintenance plan, a good inventory of spare parts, and timely upgrades combined with the manufacturer’s support! This leads to reducing downtime, keeping the costs low, lengthening the service life of your equipment, and maximizing profits. These benefits can be accomplished even by companies with minimal dedicated maintenance staff. All you need to do is implement proper maintenance practices.
- Preventive Maintenance Plan
If you aim for a long packaging machine lifespan, preventive maintenance is the number one strategy. Like a car, a cartoner needs periodic and regular maintenance to for optimal production. The most important thing after installation of a packaging machine is formulating and sticking to a preventive maintenance schedule. Timed activities, like lubricating machinery or checking and replacing wear components are there to prevent issues before they even occur. Planning downtime and necessary materials instead of being caught off guard when a problem occurs is what preventative maintenance is all about. To conclude, the main purpose of a preventive maintenance plan is preventing minor problems and major disasters in order to decrease unscheduled downtime. Examples of preventive maintenance tasks include:
- Machine inspection
- Monitoring and changing wear parts regularly
- Ensuring high wear parts are kept in stock
- Lubricating the machine
Qualified maintenance personnel (the ones with electrical or mechanical skills) are the ones who typically complete these tasks, on a preset schedule. The most important thing about a preventative maintenance schedule is the compliance to that schedule. No excuses are allowed, whether the tasks are scheduled on a monthly, quarterly, or even annual basis.
- Autonomous Maintenance Tasks
Combine in-depth assignments associated with a Preventive Maintenance Plan with easier, task-based activities. Trained machine operators are carrying out these tasks at regular intervals.
This is all done with the help of a checklist. Operators perform small maintenance tasks on daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and biannual intervals. Basic cleaning and inspection routines are usually a focus of these tasks. The main idea is that the operators will become familiar with the machine through repeated maintenance tasks. This way they can notice when something is wrong before a scheduled manufacturer’s technician visit. Your machine operators should become experts about their machinery because this way they are your first line of defense. An operator should learn to detect unusual noise, speed, undesirable motion and other signals that something is wrong.
- A Responsive Packaging Machine Manufacturer
When your packaging machine is down, every second counts. Talk with your packaging machine manufacturer and discuss the details of technical service availability, methods of contact, and related costs.
A reliable packaging machine manufacturer will introduce you to a person who will answer your calls or emails. More importantly, this manufacturer should have remote capabilities to access and troubleshoot problems without unnecessary and expensive onsite visits.
Good support includes mechanical and electrical support, but also emergency service when equipment is down, emergency spare parts and training.
- Spare Parts List
Your manufacturer should give you a recommended spare parts after providing you with a cartoner, case packer or palletizer, This list should be divided into part classes by wear, for example, high wear, medium wear, and low wear parts. High wear parts have the shortest lifecycle. Medium wear parts have a longer lifecycle and may or may not ever fail. Low wear parts should never fail.
Keep high wear parts in stock. Don’t want to wait for a part to be fabricated or shipped when your machine is down. Every minute your machine is down during production hours is money wasted.
Ask the manufacturer of your equipment to give you a list of components that are necessary to keep on hand. The best manufacturers often maintain strategic inventories of recommended spare parts to support both planned and emergency component replacement needs.
- Plan for Upgrades and Obsolescence
Cartoners, case & tray packers, palletizers and their operating software require upgrades. When a certain machine or component is made obsolete and is no longer supported it requires replacement. Packaging equipment is not excluded from today’s fast-paced technology development.
Learn about necessary and recommended equipment upgrades through regular communication with you packaging machine manufacturer. If your particular piece of equipment is being phased out, make sure you will receive a notification. Make a plan for upgrade or replacement of your machinery, components, or software that will minimize downtime. This planning can be supported by your chosen manufacturer and it should be an integral part of your annual maintenance planning. Good manufacturers continually improve and update their machinery, and they also regularly address the obsolescence issues.
The Bottom Line
Don’t be taken by surprise when it comes to packaging machine maintenance. These strategies provide the reliability, performance, and efficiency of your packaging equipment. Your packaging machine manufacturer is your most important partner. Choose Nortech Packaging, and rest assured that all your equipment will serve you for decades.