Summer Heat and the Packaging Line

Summer Heat and the Packaging Line

In the Midwest, the first day of summer can be somewhat of a relief, as there now exists a good chance that the snow shovel can be put safely in the garage for at least a few months.  For those in the packaging industry, the summer months may mean a change in demand, a change in packaging materials or simply business as usual.  While probably not the norm, there are some packaging facilities where the outside temperature will have an impact on the packaging conditions inside.  If this is the case, a few summertime modifications might be in the best interest of the packager.

First and foremost, a packager should consider the affect, if any, that the temperature change will have on their product.  Bulk product can be stored in any number of locations and pulled from any number of places.  For some packagers, the temperature of the product as it reaches the filling machinery can change the way the machinery performs.  For example, corn syrup will have a higher viscosity as the temperature of the product drops.  If a packager of corn syrup were to keep bulk product where the outside temperature could influence the temperature of the syrup itself, the filling process would change from winter to summer.  The change in the viscosity of the product would require the adjustment of fill times, pump speeds and other filling machine parameters to ensure a consistent filling process.  

If the temperature on the production floor changes with the seasons, a packager must also take into account the effect the season will have on the packaging machinery.  Motors and gear reducers on conveyors, capping machines and other packaging equipment will have a maximum temperature limit and the overheating of these components leads only to downtime and/or the purchase of replacement parts.  Similarly, those packagers using a checkweigher, or a net weight filler, will want to run extra checks on the scales, to ensure their accuracy in the summer heat.

Finally, the labor in the plant may not be the only thing sweating during the Dog Days.  It is always a good idea to check for moisture in an air line, but the warm summer months and high humidity may cause the packaging machinery to "sweat" as well.  Normally, routine cleaning and simple checks for excess moisture will deter any damage and keep the packaging machines running smoothly through the summer.  

Again, in most cases, a packaging line is unlikely to be affected by the outside temperature.  But a little extra attention paid to the conveyor system, the liquid filler, the capping machine and all other equipment on a line is much better than a whole lot of downtime from an unexpected breakdown.  Summer or winter, paying attention to your machinery will add years to the useful life of the packaging line as a whole.