Factors For A Successful Factory Acceptance Test
Testing equipment is a part of the manufacturing process at Liquid Packaging Solutions to ensure that the machinery we build performs to expectations. However, LPS strongly encourages our customers to visit our La Porte, Indiana plant for what we like to call a Factory Acceptance Test (FAT) before the equipment is shipped to their production facility. During the FAT, LPS technicians will run the equipment at the La Porte plant in the presence of the customer to ensure that the machinery we build performs to THE CUSTOMERS expectation.
The FAT is beneficial for a number of reasons, the most obvious being meeting or exceeding customer expectations. But there are other advantages to be gained by both LPS and the customer by participating in the FAT. First, if the customer would like to see modification or additions to a single machine or an entire packaging line, the equipment is still on the shop floor at LPS. These changes can be made quickly and easily at the LPS plant, saving both parties time and money in the long run. In addition, the customer can look at the FAT as free initial training, getting an idea of how the machines and controls work before the installation and training at the customer plant.
Other than all parties being present for the testing, there are other factors that must be met in order to get the maximum benefit from the FAT. First and foremost, LPS asks the customer to provide a sample of their product or products to be run on the equipment. Though a product may be "water-like" in its flow, each liquid product will have unique attributes that may not be immediately apparent. For instance, products may change with a temperature change, or products may foam during the fill. Having the customer product or products on hand to run through the machinery helps to eliminate unwanted surprises when the time comes to start running production.
Along the same lines, the bottles, caps, labels, sleeves or other components used by a packager should also be made available for the FAT. The quality of these items can vary from supplier to supplier, and though rare that issues arise based on the quality of these components, the FAT allows the opportunity to ensure that each and every one of these pieces will work on the equipment as expected.
Finally, depending on the type of equipment being tested, a successful FAT will simply require enough time to properly test the system. For simple, single machines, the FAT may only take a hour or two. For complete, turnkey, automated packaging systems running multiple products, the testing may entail a full day or more.
So in the end, the components for a successful FAT are really quite simple. Along with LPS packaging specialists, the testing requires the customer, product, packaging components such as caps, bottles and labels, and time. With a little effort to bring these things together, a lot of time and money can be saved in the future for both parties!
NOTE: LPS always tests machinery, even when product, bottles, caps and other components are unavailable for any given reason. However, LPS also strongly encourages the supply of those items even if the customer cannot participate directly in the FAT.