A Work in Progress: Building Packaging Machinery
As Liquid Packaging Solutions is a manufacturer of packaging machinery, it seems rather obvious that the company builds packaging machinery. However, this process may entail some rather surprising components to those unfamiliar with LPS. So let's take a look at a sample project to see all that it entails.
Identifying the Solution
Of course, before the machinery can be built, the right equipment for the project must be determined. The first step for any project is to gather as much information about the project as possible. This may include, but will probably not be limited to, the product or products and their characteristics, the bottle or range of bottles to be used, the type of closure for sealing the bottles, the labels that will employed, the necessary speeds and the amount of space available. There are many different types of rinsing machines, liquid fillers, capping machines and other equipment. Gathering this information allows LPS, in conjunction with the packager, to identify the best equipment for any given project.
Preparing for Production
Once the order is placed, components will be pulled, parts will be ordered, machined and welded and everything will be brought together in preparation for actually building the equipment. However, in addition to pulling the pieces together, LPS will ask the packager to provide samples of all of the components listed in the above paragraph whenever possible. Part of the preparation for LPS production includes samples of the products to be run, the bottles used, caps and any other package parts that will be used by the packager. This preparation helps to ensure the LPS production team understands what the equipment must handle to provide efficiency and consistency for the packager. It also ensures nothing was left out of the discussion leading up to LPS production and no surprises occur during or after production that will hinder the effectiveness of the equipment.
Building the Equipment
The LPS production team will then begin to physically build the equipment, from frames and tanks to component parts and more. While obviously an important part of getting the equipment to the packager, the tasks do not end once the machinery is built. The final steps in the LPS production process will ultimately help to ensure a smooth transition to the packager as well as simplify the operation of the equipment.
In-House Testing and the FAT
Once built, LPS will test the machinery using the products, bottles, caps, labels and other components provided by the packager. Again, this process ensures that no surprises present themselves at a later date or after delivery of the equipment. If issues exist with product viscosity, bottle sizes or shapes or any other component, LPS will still have the equipment in-house to correct, modify or otherwise correct the issues. When the equipment has been tested, LPS will then invite the packagers to the La Porte, Indiana facility for a Factory Acceptance Test (FAT). This test lets the packager see the equipment, again running the packagers products, bottles, caps, etc., to ensure it performs according to their own expectations, and not just those of the LPS Packaging Specialists. The FAT not only serves to ensure the machinery runs as desired by the packager, but allows an introduction to the equipment and the first step in teaching the packager to run the machinery. In addition, if the packager would like changes, modifications or upgrades, these can be achieved while the equipment remains at LPS.
Recording the Recipes
For automatic equipment such as rinsing machinery and liquid fillers, using different bottles or products means different setting will be necessary on the machines. This may include rinse times, fill times, pump durations, indexing times (for moving bottles in and out of the active area) and a number of other delay and duration settings. LPS equipment will include a touchscreen interface that allows the operator of a packaging machine to save and recall settings with the touch of a button, meaning the settings only need to be recorded once. As long as the project components are delivered to LPS, all of the settings will be factory pre-set upon delivery of the machinery. Operators will be able to recall all of the settings for any bottle and product combination at the touch of a button from Day One to reduce downtime and changeover times and increase productivity.
Once the machinery is delivered, LPS offers additional services such as installation and training, to ensure the equipment is set up properly and help those who will be running the machinery to understand the controls. Even once the equipment is delivered and running production, LPS will remain a partner with the packager providing technical service, parts and consultation as a product line may change in the future! So while LPS takes pride in building packaging machinery, we consider building the machinery only one part of the job of the machinery manufacturer. LPS invites all packagers to contact the company for assistance or with questions in their quest to find the best packaging equipment for any given project.