Packaging Machinery Technicians and Virtual Experience?

Packaging Machinery Technicians and Virtual Experience?

The service provided by packaging machinery manufacturers continues to be an area filled with criticism.  The Packaging Machinery Manufacturers Institute  (PMMI) found that while 62% of end users were satisfied by the services provided by North American packaging machine manufacturers, less than 50% were satisfied with the number and availability of "knowledgeable" service technicians.  As Packaging Digest recently pointed out, service personnel are now expected to be much more than skilled mechanics.  Service technicians are expected to integrate machinery, understand the wiring and be able to program computers, while retaining the mechanical skills that have always been a part of the service technicians knowledge base.  So how do you solve the lack of available, knowledgeable, packaging machinery technicians?

One solution, and probably the obvious solution to many, would be to hire more knowledgeable packaging technicians.  However, it is not completely clear that the hiring practice is behind the shortage.  As a packaging machinery manufactuer, Liquid Packaging Solutions, Inc., manufactures power conveyors, container cleaning equipment, liquid fillers, capping machines and other packaging equipment.  Each of these packaging machines will be slightly, or incredibly, different from the last one manufactured.  In addition, LPS often integrates OEM machinery into customer lines.  In essence, each packaging system created by Liquid Packaging Solutions is a unique, custom packaging system with many different features, options and even manufacturer's machinery.  The hiring practice, therefore, has little to do with the shortage of knowledgeable technicians.  Rather, the amount of information necessary for a technician to reach the knowedgeable stage is rather intimidating.  Given that these men and women must work on every single type of machine, by every single manufacturer of machinery, and given that this work will be performed across the country and around the world, the shortage of knowledgeable techs is not as much of a surprise.  Furthermore, training an army of technicians on every piece of packaging machinery ever manufactured is simply not realistic.  

Packaging Machinery Technicians get their knowledge through experience with the different machinery.  So how can technicians be trained without setting up a journeyman type program for those who want to learn?  The answer is obtaining experience through interacting with virtual packaging machines on a computer screen.  

As Healthcare Packaging recently reported, the company Product Animations, Inc., uses Productivity Improvement Tools to train end users on SOP's for their purchased packaging machinery.  The result is to have employees operate, changeover and otherwise use and maintain the machinery in a proper manner.  Such training can improve safety by eliminating shortcuts, reduce changeover time and thus packaging machinery downtime, and even make the packaging process more sustainable by reducing scrap, just to name a few of the benefits.

Perhaps the solution to the shortage of knowledgeable packaging machinery technicians is a transition of the videos produced by PAI for use not just by the end user, but also by the technicians.  The more experience the technicians procure through either on site visits or working with the virtual machinery, the more familiar they will become with different packaging machines and manufacturers.  More experience equals more knowledgeable technicians.

If you have questions about your packaging machinery, or if you are in need of a knowledgeable technician, call Liquid Packaging Solutions, Inc. toll free today at 1-888-393-3693.