Packaging Machinery and Lead Times
When searching for packaging solutions for any company, one topic that will always come up eventually is lead time. Understandably, many packagers assume that the lead time will depend on the type of machine being built, and to some extent this is true. While LPS strives to provide the shortest lead time possible to meet the needs of each packager in need of equipment, many different factors exist that can cause lead times to be extended beyond what would normally be expected. Though packagers may not always be thrilled with our lead times, we know that an extra day or two in manufacturing can save hours and hours of maintenance and downtime once the equipment reaches the floor! Here are a few of the considerations that go in to our lead times.
THE PACKAGING EQUIPMENT
The equipment itself will always be the starting point for the calculation of manufacturing lead time. A simple conveyor can be built in a much shorter time than a complete turnkey packaging line with power conveyors, filling and capping machines and a labeler. In addition, some equipment will require more custom manufacturing than others, which can lead to extended fabrication time for certain components. But first and foremost, the LPS design team will consider the type of equipment and the time necessary to properly put that equipment together.
At LPS, we build equipment for too many industries to name in this short article! If it's liquid and goes in to a container, we have probably manufactured equipment for it in the past. Our production floor, while always active, still fluctuates between busy and "they need that when?" While we have no way of knowing who will need what equipment when until we get the call, we do schedule our own production floor in the most efficient manner possible. But even so, calling for equipment when we are beyond the busy phase can add extra days to a lead time. For this reason, our Packaging Specialists may discuss timelines early on in any discussion of packaging machinery.
SAMPLE PRODUCT, CONTAINERS AND COMPONENTS
Packaging machinery from LPS is in some ways always custom equipment. Each machine will be custom tailored to the product, bottle, closure, label and other components of any given project. For this reason, our production crew always asks for samples of each of these unless the same simply cannot be done (for example, bottles have not been chosen or manufactured yet). Not only do the samples help to design the correct machinery, but they allow for testing of the equipment once built. If LPS can test and successfully run customer product with customer containers, caps and labels at our plant, then we know we can make it run on the customer's production floor. In addition, changes based on packaging and product can be done much easier at LPS, where all the tools to make such changes exist. Knowing that samples are available can shorten a lead time significantly in some situations.
TESTING AND CHANGES
As noted above, part of our manufacturing process is testing the machinery. With almost every project done, LPS invites the customer to attend a Factory Acceptance Test in our La Porte, Indiana plant. This gives the customer the opportunity to see the equipment run and get an idea of how to operate the machinery as well. From time to time, packagers will request changes, additions or modifications after seeing the machinery in action. Obviously, the testing is the last step in the process of building the equipment and when such changes are made, the delivery time may be backed up slightly.
In the end, LPS believes it is extremely important to meet our lead times and we always strive to do just that. However, when modifications are necessary, experience has taught us that taking that extra time to ensure that the equipment is functioning ideally for the given project will pay off in the long run for the packager in the form of reduced downtime and improved efficiency.