Packaging lines are a complex and incredibly important part of any company’s global supply chain. Some plants, however, continue to use older, worn lines that may have been adequate 20 years ago, but are not sufficient now. Today, cases-per-hour is the new metric for an efficient line, and speed is the goal. The consequence of this evolution is that packages are frequently damaged by line pressure, as well as contact with other packages and line control surfaces such as rails, diverters and packer feeding lanes.
Benchmarking is the First Step:
With regular use of the Quantifeel System, plants can easily diagnose and correct issues on their lines. The system measures pressure, shock, rotation and tilt data, and can benchmark multiple lines to prepare for improvement efforts. The data can point to differences between line equipment and programming. The Quantifeel System can help you pinpoint exactly which parts of the lines are causing damage to your product. Quantifeel can also generate “before and after” images that show the improvements made to the line, and this will correlate to relevant visual package inspections and overall damage reduction in Class 1, 2 and 3 defects.
Benchmarking Best Practices:
1. Baseline data is collected for the packaging line to identify risk areas for high pressure.
2. This enables intervention based on the severity of the pressure, shock and rotational data captured.
3. Based on the gathered data, a corrective plan can be developed to improve conditions on the line. The system can identify the need for:
• Line lubrication, as well as the amount, placement and when you should spray.
• Line mechanical corrections such as rail spacing, missing or damaged covers, corner geometry, diverter geometry, packer lane spacing and malfunctioning control gates.
• Changes to motor speeds and the timing of starts and stops
• Gapping containers to relieve pressure.
Figure 1. Typical data overlay for high speed canning line, showing pressure during time on the conveyors, multiple runs and location of pressure on the can using the pressure map analytics
Figure 2. Line map with pressure hot spots illustrated in red helps formulate corrective action plans.
Quantifeel allows you to focus on each section on the line for possible improvements, and create a new baseline running condition for your plant to maintain. For example, Fig. 3 illustrates before and after conditions once speeds were changed. The resulting effect of this was discovering a need to lower container to container pressure in the inspection area.
These types of damage can be correlated and highlighted by a report from the Smart Skin Technologies software and analytics. The pressure overlay report can show locations on the line of high and cycling pressure for multiple runs and the operating system can show where on the can this pressure is being applied. As changes to the line are made, these areas can be retested and the new line pressure quantified.
Figure 3. Displaying multiple run pressure overlay data before and after conveyor speed was changed.
Why Should Plants Use the Quantifeel System Regularly?
1. Plants often change the sizes of their bottles and cans, which leads to the use of multiple change parts on a line, different programs for speed, and then trying to return to a process centerline.
2. For canning lines, this also includes seamer control parts and end-size changes for smaller and larger format cans.
3. While plants usually have a crew of operators and maintenance people who can intervene on the line to fix something, they are not able to centerline the process again after doing so.
4. Plants often change the filler speed to reduce a problem for different products, which changes the line’s flow and its pressure points. These problems will worsen with speed.
5. Cans and bottles that are being processed at high speeds can break, and remnants will sometimes get caught and damage or alter the equipment.
6. Motor control gates and switches can become damaged, the effect of which can go unnoticed until Quantifeel data points to a shift in line pressure.
7. Through regular use, you can quantify and thereby maintain improvements to the line and container conditions.
Create a new baseline map for your line!
Regular use of the Quantifeel System ensures that your plant maintains its improved conditions. If a line change is proposed, the system can also adapt to the new circumstances and determine whether the new conditions have improved or impeded progress on the line. The system serves as a sort of teaching tool for the staff, as they are able to clearly see the effect of the changes made on the line. This can help plan for new line installs, equipment upgrades and finding ways to ensure optimum line control during production.