27 May 2016 //
by Jim Campbell
The term ‘modular’ seems to be all the rage when it comes to equipment manufacturing. The idea is that equipment components have a Lego-type configuration, in which things can be arranged to fit the application. Implementing a system like this can be more complicated from an engineering perspective, but the benefits can be worth the up-front effort. Here are some of the benefits of modular design to consider when implementing new packaging equipment.
1. Plant Layout
You can’t argue with the old adage “time is money,” but in modern manufacturing plants, “space is money” is even more important. As plants consolidate and grow to become more efficient, space is always at a premium. A modular design in packaging equipment can make the most of the space that’s available. Packaging equipment, especially end-of-line packaging equipment, is at the end of the manufacturing process. Any space left after production takes what it needs is all that’s available. The modular design can accommodate tight or unusual spaces by allowing for the arrangement of modules in a way that offers the most benefit to the plant. For example, what once would have been an in-line machine could just as easily be an L-shaped layout to fit the unique plant requirements.
2. Hybrid Technologies
Another benefit of a modular design is that merging of operations can be easier to integrate. What was once two discrete equipment operations can now be integrated as one. For example, adding accumulation to a packaging line downstream of an extruder is relatively simple; having modular equipment components can accommodate the inclusion or exclusion of machine operations. You could also integrate a palletizer under the same controls umbrella as other packaging operations. The modularity of the design can usually accommodate unique needs.
3. Tailored Standardization
One of the less obvious benefits to the end user of a modular design is tailored standardization. When I’m in the field talking to manufacturers about tailored solutions, they first think I’m talking about a custom machine. I’m careful to point out the distinction—that tailored and custom, while similar, are in fact different. In custom equipment the majority of the machine is a ground-up development; tailored standardization offers the benefits of economies of scale while offering a right-sized solution. It’s like building a hot rod in your garage: the tires on the car will be off-the-shelf while most other aspects of the ride being unique. Tailored standardization is similar: packaging equipment modules can be right-sized for the application, but still benefit the customer by being efficiently manufactured and offering a competitive price.
Specifying the perfect packaging system for your next capital project can be a daunting task; every manufacturing plant has unique requirements that are compounded by the uniqueness and variety of products the system has to handle. What’s my advice? Search out a modular design for your next equipment need. Partnering with an equipment manufacturer that can offer tailored solutions using modularity is sure to provide you with a winning solution. Have packaging system questions? Contact us we’re happy to help!