Personalizing the Packaging System to Add Efficiency

Much conversation on packaging equipment will take place around the question of which machines are best for the project at hand based on the products, containers, caps, labels, speeds and many other factors. Less attention if often paid to the way the machines are laid out on the production floor. Even the best rinsing, filling and capping machines can lose efficiency if not ideally set up to run production, and sometimes that efficiency equation even moves outside of the line layout.

Line layouts provide a look at how the equipment will fit on to the production floor. In addition to ensuring that there is ample room for the desired machinery, the layouts also allow for the planning of electrical drops, air lines and any other necessary power or auxiliary components. Expanding that line layout, however, to include loading docks, delivery docks, storage areas for containers and other relevant locations within the plant can add another level of efficiency that is sometimes overlooked.

As an example, imagine an automatic packaging line that includes a laning conveyor, filling machine, capping machine and an accumulating turntable. Even if the production floor contains enough room to place all of the equipment in a straight line, this might not be the best layout for the equipment. Containers for this line may be stored on the south side of the building, meaning that the packager would want the beginning of the line to start to the south. This stops operators from making a long commute each and every time more bottles are needed, or take a forklift driver off the production floor by removing the necessity for delivery. If the loading dock is at the north end of the production floor, then a straight line might be the most efficient. The line begins at the point where the containers are stored and ends at the point where they will be prepped for shipping.

Now imagine the loading dock is on the west, or even adjacent to the storage area on the south of the facility. Running the packaging equipment in a straight line again creates additional work in getting the finished product to the loading dock. While time is saved by having the laning conveyor near the storage area, that time is lost right back by driving or walking boxes, crates or pallets of product from the end of the line to the dock. Though this may only be a fraction of a minute, those fractions end up when the trip is taken multiple times every single day.

The simple solution is to work out the most efficient path for the line to run that includes loading, unloading and any other off-line activities that may take place during production. Incorporating curved conveyors or transfer turntables allows the layout to take on shapes other than a straight line, limiting or removing unnecessary or time-consuming tasks that take away from the efficiency of the line as a whole. In the above example, if the loading dock is on the west side, a single turn in the conveyor system helps end the line near the loading dock. If the storage and loading areas are both on the south side, a horseshoe design, using to ninety degree turns, can be planned to start and end the packaging process to the south.

Adding efficiency to the packaging line includes more than simply the speed of the machinery. Personalizing the line layout when designing the packaging system can literally save dozens of hours a year by minimizing the work of the operators alone. To discuss your own project or options for adding efficiency to a current packaging line, give LPS a call today.