Packaging Machinery and the Dog Days of Summer
The heat may have arrived a little later in the summer season this year, at least in our area of the United States, but it as come, for a couple days anyway. As we have mentioned before, temperature can affect the packaging process in a number of ways. As we gear up for the Dog Days of Summer, we offer a quick reminder of some of the most common ways that a rise in temperature mean a change in the process, and why temperature control can be more important in the summer months.
EFFECT ON PRODUCT
One of the most important things to remember about product viscosity is that it can change with a change in the temperature. Once the summer heat hits, some packagers may notice a change in the performance of their filling machine. In addition to checking the equipment, the packager should also check the product! If the viscosity of the product has changed, the equipment may still be functioning properly, but the settings might have to be changed. For example, if the product viscosity rises with the temperature, fill times may need to be increased as product flows more slowly. Keep in mind that even where the packaging line is in a climate comtrolled atmosphere, storage of product in other areas can lead to viscosity change. While not always the cause of malfunction, when product viscosity changes even slightly, it can be difficult to pinpoint as the issue and will often be overlooked by operators.
EFFECT ON MACHINERY AND COMPONENTS
Of course, extreme heat may have also cause problems with the packaging machinery itself, or at least components of a packaging line. While the process for many packagers will take place in an environment where the temperature remains constant, there are some places where the temperature on the production floor will be somewhat at the mercy of nature. If that heat becomes extreme on the warmest of summer days, a number of different issues may appear. From motors overheating to warping plastic to moisture related electrical issues due to sweating, operators must be aware of the different components of the machinery on the line. Again, the cases where outside temperature has an effect on machinery and components is likely rare, but operators in these environments need to be aware of possible issues and implement policies and procedures to counter such issues, including climate control where necessary.
EFFECT ON OPERATORS
Last but surely not least, summer heat can have an effect on those running the machinery, including both semi-automatic and automatic equipment. Operators that are assisting semi-automatic equipment can tire, dehydrate or even lose focus. Fatigue can also set in for those operators that are simple monitoring a completely automated line, especially when they are assisting with changeover frequently or when troubleshooting becomes necessary. During the heat of the year, let's not forget those that ensure that the smooth, consistent process continues!
If you believe temperature changes are causing issues with your product or equipment and would like to discuss the same with a Packaging Specialist, please don't hesitate to contact LPS toll-free at 1-888-393-3693.