Packaging machines are essential to any production operations. Hence, proper machine maintenance is key to minimizing downtime, avoiding costly repairs, and keeping operational expenses low.
Even if you have the most durable automated box folding and gluing machine, regular and proper maintenance is imperative to its performance and longevity, as with every other piece of packaging machinery. To make the most out of every machine, here are some of the most important maintenance strategies that you should adhere to:
1. Adopt a preventive maintenance schedule
Preventive maintenance is the best way to extending the lifespan of machinery, be it packaging machines or any other piece of equipment, for that matter. Apart from that, sticking to a preventive maintenance plan prevents issues before they even occur, helping reduce the risk of unexpected machine failures that can result in extended downtime and thus, production delays.
A preventive maintenance plan must include the following tasks:
Inspecting machines periodically
Monitoring machines for worn or faulty parts
Making replacements as needed
Keeping machines lubricated, especially the moving parts
Maintaining an adequate stock of high-wear parts
Cleaning machines and the surrounding area
It also goes without saying that a qualified professional should be the one to perform these preventive maintenance tasks as they require a high level of technical training and skill. Letting unqualified employees tackle these tasks may not resolve potential issues or may even be the cause of machine failure in the first place.
2. Select a machine manufacturer with great customer service
In the event of machine failure, the amount of time it takes to have someone come and service it is crucial for operations. For this reason, choosing a packaging machine manufacturer with a high response time is just as important as choosing a manufacturer based on the quality of their machines.
When selecting a manufacturer, be sure to discuss service availability, average response time, methods of contact, and emergency services. Moreover, ask for a person who will serve as your primary point of contact in case of machine failure, and emphasize that you are looking for a company that can respond to your concerns quickly.
It is also important to choose a packaging machine manufacturer that offers remote capabilities to access machines and troubleshoot problems from their end. In this way, you can eliminate or reduce unnecessary (and costly) onsite visits by a technician.
3. Assign autonomous maintenance tasks
Machine operators should be the first ones to know if there is something wrong with their machines. They run them every day, meaning they are used to the usual sounds, speed, and motions that the machine makes. However, not all machine operators can detect when something is off.
With that in mind, combining more complicated maintenance tasks with easier ones helps increase the familiarization between operator and machine. Aside from complex assignments, give machine operators a list of simple maintenance tasks that they are to perform on a daily, weekly, monthly, or quarterly basis. By performing repetitive tasks, operators will become familiar with the machine and thus be more able to tell if there is something wrong with it, prompting early problem resolution before the manufacturer’s technician comes for their regular visit.
4. Revisit your spare parts list
The packaging machine manufacturer will provide you with a list of spare parts with different classes. To ensure that you keep adequate stock of everything, it is imperative to understand what the classes on your spare parts list mean.
For instance, high wear parts are the parts that typically have shorter lifespans because of increased usage, or are the parts that have a long lead time when ordering. Always keep a stock of high-wear parts to ensure that you don’t have to wait until a new part is produced or delivered.
Medium wear parts have longer lifespans and may not ever fail. Nevertheless, it may be a good idea to keep one or two pieces in stock just in case. Lastly, low-wear parts are the parts that never fail.
5. Avoid exceeding machine specifications
It can be tempting to crank up machines to increase production, but this can lead to costly machine failures and even safety hazards. Follow the manufacturer’s specifications on machine performance, such as maximum load capacity, operating temperature, and ideal pressure range, among others. Doing so helps reduce wear and tear and keeps your machine in good shape.
Packaging machinery is designed to withstand high amounts of production load, but they are not susceptible to common machine woes. To keep your machines in good shape and increase their longevity, always follow these general maintenance tips.