How to Prequalify Equipment Vendors For Packaging Line Automation

13 May 2016 //

Equipment PurchasingPackaging System UpgradeProject Planning

You’ve found a need for automation in your packaging line, and you’re ready to look at new equipment. How do you go about implementing an initial “10,000-foot view” inspection to prequalify vendors for RFQ submission?

Here are some things to consider when “kicking the tires” on a new equipment purchase:

Start With the End in Mind

  • Establish a firm concept of the package you’re looking to produce, as package requirements will substantially impact the type of equipment needed. Decide the type of packaging material, the type of enclosure, and package performance expectations before investigating manufacturers. Think of it like buying a new car – you would have a general idea of the style you want (i.e., sedan, SUV or pickup) before heading to the dealer.

Determine System Integration

  • Where will the packaging equipment be placed in your line? How will your product be handled upstream and downstream? What ancillary equipment is needed to complete the line automation? If your level of automation requires more than just the packaging machine, consider a turnkey provider to implement the entire line.

Put Together a Budget

  • After clearly defining your package design and system integration needs, generate a basic budget on your project. Package design and performance requirements coupled with the level of automation typically provide a manufacturer with enough information to put together some “ballpark” numbers.

Develop an ROI

  • Once you’ve narrowed down equipment vendors to realistic contenders, find out more detailed information about each one as it relates to:
  • Think through how you can achieve an acceptable ROI. Estimate the amount of labor and amount and type of packaging materials used so you have variables to compare against the finished product once the equipment is in place. Also, verify if your company has a required payback period and, if so, it’s length (1 year, 2 years, etc.) Developing an ROI for new equipment will likely reveal if there’s an actual need for the project or if it’s merely “pie in the sky” thinking.

Product Handling

  • Does your product require special care, or is it a large, awkward shape that makes it difficult to handle? Will the equipment be exposed to excess dust, or wear and tear in the production environment? What about equipment robustness? An eye test of some the manufacturer’s systems will give you an idea about durability.

Parts, Service and Equipment Uptime

  • Does the manufacturer have a track record of their equipment uptime? What about their service response if a machine goes down? Parts availability and service responsiveness is crucial to keeping your equipment running consistently throughout its lifetime.

Company History

  • How long has the manufacturer been producing the type of equipment you’re considering? What are some of their core competencies? Do they proudly share customer success stories? A reputable equipment manufacturer should easily be able to provide all of this information and more.

In terms of decision-making, partnering with a manufacturer is second only to choosing the actual packaging equipment. Taking a little extra time upfront to find the vendor that meets your needs and exceeds your expectations will pay dividends in the long run.

Looking to automate your packaging line? Before you make any purchase decision, contact EDL Packaging Engineers today for expert guidance.