David Roberge

By: David Roberge on March 29th, 2018

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8 Things You Need To Know Before Buying Your Next Packaging Machine

Equipment | The Business of Packaging | Technical Service and Support | Plant Performance | Investment

There are many different factors you should take into account as you are selecting new packaging machinery for your operation. We dive into the important things you should look for and why.

What Are You Packaging?

Chances are you know what you’re packaging. But it’s important that you have all the information readily available as you’ll need to relay all the information to the person you’re discussing the machinery with.

What are you packaging, how much are you looking to produce, etc.? This will be important as you are able to take a look at options that are best for your product and business goals.


How Do You Want It Built?

Do you want the new machinery to be modular-built or more complex? Is it important to you that the machine is built for future growth? Be sure to keep long term goals in mind so that you invest in machinery that can grow with you and your company.

Consider versatility - Will the machinery be dedicated to one product line, or a multiple products? There are advanced machines available that can automatically adjust to package different product sizes automatically in the production line but is this important to you? What are you needs?


What’s Your Available Space?

You need to have an understanding of what you can fit in your facility. You might find machinery that you feel would be great for your packaging - but then find out it’s too large for your actual available floor space.

You also need to take into account your employee’s moving around, and what is an optimal amount of space to have. Is there enough space for panels to open for maintenance? Is there space for aisles next to it?

Can you install a mezzanine to take advantage of limited floor space with the area above the machine?


How Fast Can the Machine Run VS. Your Bandwidth?

It’s important that you’re not only hitting your production numbers for customers, but exceeding them. The more you’re able to produce in a shorter period of time, the bigger the contract opportunities will be and the more customers you can take on, but don’t forget about being able to handle the growth.

Will your team be able to keep up with growing demand? You don’t want to become overloaded and lose business for missed commitments because you can’t keep up.

Be strategic in planning for increased volume. When selecting your packaging machinery, you should have a good understanding of how quickly it can turn around packaged products and your plans for future growth. If you are a contract packager, a faster machine like a VFFS (Vertical Form Fill & Seal) machines can run at up to 300 packages per minute.

Have an understanding of the specific features that make it faster, and how you will handle the increased volume, both feeding the machine and taking it away.

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Will There Need to Be Additional Assembly and Installation?

Some machines might need additional assembly and installation in order to produce what you’re looking for. You should have a good understanding of what the machinery setup is like and what/who is required.

Some machines will need to be integrated into your packaging line to produce what you are looking for. This should be taken into account when planning for going live with your newly enhanced packaging line. Consider the time it may take to work out any bugs prior to full production.

Also consider when you need the machinery to be fully functional and what lead times you should anticipate. If there are options available to enhance the machinery for your production, know what they are and if you are also able to upgrade it as your needs change.


What About Service And Support?

When choosing your next addition to your packaging line it’s also good to have an understanding of the service and support that will come with it. Will your machine operators require additional training for the new machinery?

Consider setting up time with a certified technician to train your employees on proper use and maintenance. A quality supplier will have options available for service in your local area or will be able to assist you in maintaining and operating properly.

Downtime means money lost, you want to know that if something goes wrong you can get support quickly. Proper preventative maintenance allows for planned downtime so that you aren’t blindsided by issues and you can keep your operation running.


What Are Your Safety Considerations?

Safety is very important as you’re designing out your next packaging machine. A trend in machinery is creating Safe Zones, so that when one part of the machine is an a safe state, the rest of the machine is in standby or continues normal operation. Safe zones will increase your up-time and reduce scrap or waste. It’s important that you are building in safety components early on and not after the fact.

Consider a lock-out/tag-out process so it is clear when the machine is down and being worked on.

Does the machine need to be Arc-Flash compliant, which is a newer OSHA regulation? According to a report by Convergence Training, electrical wiring methods were in the top 10 citations of 2017, so be sure your on top of training and working within regulation.

Consider a see-through panel outside of your electrical cabinet with a Graceport connector so when making changes to the program, you can see visually that the inputs and outputs are working properly. These types of machinery modifications can be discussed and implemented prior to delivery and installation of your new machines, so be sure to speak with your supplier ahead of time.


Is Multi-Ethernet And Integrated Hardware Important For Your Business?

Many machines have an Ethernet option which allows multiple people to view the machines operation. Additionally, it allows for the capability to send information for generating reports based on the specific metrics you are targeting.

Having software and hardware that is integrated is ideal for the smoothest system functionality and allows you to access information of the production, maintenance. You should have one program per project for each of your machines.

Even if you don’t allow outside support technicians to view machinery functions due to firewall security purposes, integrated hardware will help accessing the reports you need. Integrated hardware allows for predictive maintenance, letting you know when work needs to be done and on which parts need it.

Your machines are  what gets products packaged, keeps customers happy and what generates new business. It’s important that not only are you selecting machinery that is going to work for your current business goals, but that you are building out a packaging line that will support your future growth as well.

If you follow these pointers and questions you should be set up for success in building out your new packaging line.


Want to be certain that a new piece of machinery is the right solution for your business? Download your copy of the Packaging Machinery Pre-Investment Checklist here!

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About David Roberge

I am grateful for my 9 years as part of the outstanding Industrial Packaging team. I was able to hang out with some of the most knowledgeable folks in the packaging industry. I feel even luckier that I was able to share that knowledge with you. I love learning, hiking, and growing people and teams both personally and professionally, and helping companies grow better.