5 Tips for Maintaining Your Case Packing System

Are you considering automating your secondary packaging process for the first time or wish to replace your legacy equipment with a state-of-the-art system to futureproof your production line? 


We have highlighted many benefits of automating your end-of-line packaging operations to improve productivity and efficiency. Adding an automated case packer to your line allows you to accommodate higher speeds and more products to boost your revenue and competitiveness. 


However, preventative and proactive maintenance is critical in owning an automated case packer to ensure optimal performance, whether you invest in a Gantry machine or a fully automated system with vision-guided robotics


Any secondary packaging equipment you run regularly could be affected by mechanical wear and tear, equipment breakdowns, technical malfunctions, material handling issues, or operator-related errors that could lead to downtime and lost revenue. It can cost up to $30,000 per hour of downtime when an essential machine breaks down, leading to wasted finished products, bottlenecks, and unmet deadlines.


Maintaining your case packaging system ensures you get the best return on your investment for as long as possible. Here are five tips on maintaining your end-of-the-line machinery to keep it running at peak performance so you can take advantage of all the benefits of automation:


1. Vet Your Case Packing System Supplier


Vetting potential equipment suppliers and manufacturers can save you time and money by ensuring you choose the right system and supplier.


Many of the tips we highlight will be much easier to follow or address if you have a strong relationship with your supplier, who can provide regular maintenance support and service to ensure your system’s optimal performance.


When vetting an equipment supplier to add automation to your line, inquire if they can service the system for the entire lifecycle or if you must depend solely on your internal maintenance team for maintenance. Always choose a responsive supplier that is well-versed in their craft and boasts excellent aftermarket services.


Here are some questions to ask your case packing system supplier or manufacturer to get a better understanding of their approach to maintenance and aftermarket support:


  • Where can I get spare parts, how long will it take, and do you provide a list? 
  • What does the warranty cover, and how long is it good for? 
  • Can you make regular onsite maintenance checks? 
  • Do you offer training for equipment operations and maintenance?
  • What technical services do you offer, including mechanical, electrical, and software? 
  • Do you provide virtual/remote assistance checks if a technician can’t reach the location?


By asking these and other specific questions about your system maintenance, you can better understand their approach and the system’s total cost of ownership. 


Other possible steps to take in the vetting process include:

  • Researching the supplier's reputation online.
  • Evaluating their experience and any system specifications.
  • Seeking case studies and references to gather feedback on working with them. 

Throughout this blog, we will highlight how BluePrint Automation is a true partner and how we support our customers through attentive consultation and robust aftermarket services designed to ensure proper maintenance of any equipment we design and integrate into your line.


2. Take a Proactive Approach Toward Preventive Maintenance


Prevention is the best way to mitigate common challenges that could increase downtime and costly equipment breakdowns. By being proactive and implementing preventative maintenance in your processes, you can reduce adverse events and optimize performance. For example, if your system filter is clogged because it hasn't been checked or cleaned, your machine's efficiency will decrease. Think of preventive maintenance as a safety net against these avoidable challenges.

As every line and plant is different, the best preventative maintenance approach for your business will differ from others, but there are core tenets and best practices of any program that could help you achieve the best results and ROI for your case packing system. These include regular cleaning and sanitation, scheduled maintenance, ongoing inspections, staff training, maintenance documentation, system monitoring, predictive analytics to forecast equipment failures, and regular cleaning and sanitation. 

We often can help you implement preventative maintenance by adding these core tenets and best practices to your processes. Our service engineers can identify critical issues, provide onsite and remote support, assess technology obsolescence, examine machine tuning and operation, and ensure that internal teams are trained and equipped to maintain our equipment. Globally, we have aftermarket services to increase the health and reliability of your BluePrint Automation equipment, validate new equipment, eliminate unnecessary downtime, and optimize performance.  


As you consider your preventative maintenance program, assess your internal expertise and capabilities to see which aftermarket services you might need from your equipment supplier or manufacturer to support your maintenance goals. 

3. Learn How Your Case Packing System Should Ideally Operate


How can you catch any inefficiencies within your case packing system early? First, learn how the machines should work when everything is in perfect condition. Knowing what normal looks [and sounds] like will inevitably make spotting any wear and tear in the system easier. Of course, equipment sensors and monitoring systems can help track key performance indicators and alert your team of when something is abnormal or running inefficiently, too, but any relevant staff should know as much as possible about your case packing system to reduce your risk.


We can familiarize your team with our equipment and provide equipment health workbooks, logbooks, and other resources to ensure proper operation and maintenance. We can also conduct training for your team on general and specialized topics related to performance and maintenance to keep them updated and comfortable with our machines. 


Ensure any personnel operating or maintaining your secondary packaging equipment understands how it works so they can be proactive when something goes wrong. 


4. Make Repairs and Upgrades Before They Become Inevitable


Preventative maintenance and cleaning will prevent issues and identify minor problems before they become catastrophes. If anything is determined in an inspection by your internal team or supplier, it’s essential to make repairs and upgrades as quickly as possible to solve the issue. Delaying can damage the impaired part further and impact other working machine parts, resulting in much more significant and, at times, irreversible damage.


Another challenge you could run into is technology obsolescence as your equipment ages or if you introduce new product lines or equipment to your secondary packaging process. While maintenance will prevent issues and prolong the life of your equipment, your equipment won’t last forever, and you might need additional functionality or performance upgrades. 


BluePrint Automation offers onsite and remote support to ensure your BPA machines run at optimum performance and that any repairs or upgrades are addressed through our warranties, service contracts, and asset health programs. 

  • We can quote out a part or service quickly to shorten lead times and get your system back up and running. 
  • We also offer 24/7 technical support and advanced remote capabilities and have nearly 90 dedicated service engineers and several software engineers available during business hours to connect remotely for assistance.
  • As a best practice, we can also send you a report about possible upgrades and parts, including lead times, for planning purposes. 


5. Keep a Spare Parts Inventory


Developing and maintaining a spare parts inventory can reduce equipment downtime and interruptions. Every facility has only so much space and budget for spare parts, so it’s essential to identify critical parts, appropriate stock levels, parts usage and lead times, and personnel to manage the inventory. 


A true partnership with your case packer supplier or manufacturer can help you develop a recommended spare parts list for critical parts such as those that may be difficult to obtain. This will minimize downtime and be a potential cost-saving. 


For example, after speaking with their spare parts team, we provide our customers with a part criticality list to help them understand which parts they should always have on hand, the estimated cost of machine parts, and their lead times. 


Ensure you have spare parts when you need them the most. Spares in stock can slash your downtime and ensure your production line has no bottlenecks or holdups. If you aren’t provided with a list by your supplier, keep a list of frequently replaced parts and see if you can stock them for emergencies. 


Wrapping Up


Preventative and proactive maintenance is the secret to your case packing system’s longevity and efficiency. It mitigates the risk of a shutdown impacting your bottom line, reduces the total cost of ownership, and increases the life of your secondary packaging equipment.


At BluePrint Automation, we understand the importance of having a reliable and effective case packaging system to meet your production goals. For us, the job continues beyond selling you packing equipment. Your concerns are our concerns, and we always want to be a true partner to our customers. 


Start the conversation about maintenance today with one of our experts and see how your plant can best maintain your BPA equipment.

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