6 Ways to Stretch Your Automated Packaging Machine Budget

01 August 2016 //

Equipment PurchasingPackaging System Upgrade

Each year companies allocate funds to maintain or upgrade their existing packaging machines. Since this funding is typically fixed, every dollar counts. If you’re a plant manager or maintenance manager tasked with maintaining or upgrading your packaging machine within a set budget, here are six ways to get more bang for your buck:

1.  Add Film Cradles and/or Automated Film Splicers on Your Shrink Wrap Machine

Adding additional film capacity to a shrink-wrap machine reduces unwanted downtime. Increasing a 14” film roll cradle to 20” cuts roll change frequency, and integrating automatic film splicers means splicing occurs with little, if any, downtime.

2.  Automate Manual Adjustments

Most shrink-wrap machines bundle a variety of unique products/collation sizes, so changeover is required at some point to adjust the system, as in the case of lane guide position settings and pack stop settings. For shrink-wrap machines where these adjustments are manual, it may be possible to upgrade to an automatic adjustment to expedite the process.

3. Improve Operator System Control Access

Providing operators with quick access to system controls is paramount in running an automated packaging machine at optimum efficiency. Should an operator not have immediate access to machine controls on an older machine – like when a machine is moved to a new location and one side is “landlocked,” or an operator’s primary position is no longer near the existing controls – consider adding a push button station or additional human machine interface (HMI).

4.  Automate Packaging Machine Control Systems

It doesn’t take long for packaging equipment controls like programmable logic controllers, communication systems, variable frequency drives and servo drives/amplifiers to become obsolete. Although they may operate without issue, eventually each control will no longer be supported. Instead of waiting until that day comes, investigate the feasibility of upgrading to current technology standards to extend machinery life and to possibly add more levels of control.

5. Upgrade Shrink-Wrap Machine Sealers 

Like packaging equipment control systems, sealing technology is also steadily advancing. If your packaging equipment is more than five years old, it may be worth integrating the most recent sealing technology to provide more consistency, higher quality, faster sealing rate and enhanced control.

6. Maintain Your Automated Packaging Machine

This may seem like a no-brainer, but having sufficient spare parts kits on hand is one of the easiest ways to invest in your automated packaging machine. Having the ability to replace a worn part immediately rather than waiting until it fails will reduce downtime and overall cost. Likewise, having a preventive maintenance program in place with the packaging machine manufacturer is a simple and low-cost way to support your machine since their technicians provide a high level of specific expertise that ensures your automated packaging machine is operating at peak performance.

Every automated packaging machine is unique, so some of these improvements may be easier and less costly to implement than others, and some may not be possible at all. However, discussing your goals and options with your packaging machine manufacturer remains one of the best ways to get more out of your dollar. Contact us today to learn more about what budget-friendly fixes may be available for your equipment.