24 June 2015 //
by Jim Campbell
Doing more with less is not a new idea. Plant Managers being tasked with increasing production, without expanding their facility, is all too common today. Tight budgets and an increasingly competitive marketplace mean manufacturers must utilize every square inch of their facility as efficiently as possible. And as those plants become more efficient, what the output at two sites used to be must now be produced at one. These plant mergers mean equipment is consolidated under one roof, putting facilities under significant space constraints.
How do you keep up with aggressive production requirements when a building expansion is not an option? When it comes to packaging, our team can help.
EDL is often asked to help customers implement new capacity in a tight layout. As a sales professional I hear it all the time: “Yes, we’d love new equipment, but floor space is at a premium.” Packaging machinery requires room; there’s no getting around it. But there is a way to optimize that space. The way our team does it is by using a modular engineering design. We see it as “thinking outside the box and into shrink film.” Here’s a brief overview of how EDL approaches space constraints:
What’s the goal of the project?
- Increase throughput?
- Increase product variety through one machine?
- Random product packaging from cycle to cycle?
- All of the above?
Fully understanding each customer’s goal is a critical step in providing the right solution – one that takes as little space as possible.
Every facility, Plant Manager, and product requires a different approach when it comes to packaging. Our equipment build philosophy is to design a machine to fit the application, not make the application fit the existing machine design. As an equipment supplier, providing an “off-the-shelf” solution is the easy route. Given the business environment described above, though, challenging circumstances must be met with creative thinking. Here are a few examples:
- Increasing throughput seems to be a straightforward request. Adding new equipment capacity is a logical first step, but will the plant layout allow it? A 90-degree turn versus an inline system may solve the problem. Varying product flow patterns like a ‘U’ or ‘Z’ shaped product may be required. A modular design could resolve the issue.
- If a production line is leaving less room for packaging, one possible solution is to have a larger product size range run through the same system. More SKUs going through a versatile packaging system allows for more plant throughput flowing on a single packaging line.
- For customers whose space constraints will not allow for a 1-to-1 manufacturing-to-packaging machine ratio, a multi-to-one ratio could be a solution. Sometimes the solution is to design a system that allows for random product to flow through a single packaging line.
The thought of shoehorning equipment into an already-cramped operating environment sounds like a recipe for disaster. What’s needed is an engineering process that’s as unique as the production environment. Before assuming “it can’t be done,” consider a modular design and the right engineering expertise.
If you have what you believe is an exceptional equipment/space problem, be confident that we have an exceptional solution. Contact us today to see how EDL can help.