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There is no such thing as “just a little” inefficiency. Each 2% efficiency loss costs 40 hours of annual production capacity (more on multiple shifts). No company can afford to ignore this kind of loss. Efficiency comes with smooth operation. Smooth operation starts with proper line design and attention to detail.
It’s only by asking the right questions that the right answers will be found. The most basic question is how much capacity is required. How many products per day and when? Some products will require constant capacity, others will be seasonal. More ice cream sales in summer, for example. Where will the line go? If in an existing space, get complete dimensional layout including doors, columns and other potential obstructions.
Some lines will be completely manual, others fully automated with most somewhere in between. Decide early on an automation strategy. This will often depend on available workforce. Manual requires many un- and semi-skilled workers. Automated requires fewer people, but they need to be skilled.Identify major line components and arrange them sequentially in a block diagram. Now start adding ancillary equipment as needed.
Write equipment specifications, identify potential vendors and solicit proposals.Purchase the equipment, do the FAT (Factory Acceptance Test) and have it delivered.
Install and commission the machinery, train the team to operate it. Be sure to train the technical team to support it.
Start production. Expect a learning curve, flatter or steeper depending on how well all the steps above were done and the workforce.
Rich Frain and John Henry wrote the book on this process. Secrets of Buying Packaging Machinery is available from Amazon. It has much more detail on each of these steps.
It takes time and experience to do all the above steps well. Both, especially the necessary time, can be in short supply these days. An alternative to do it yourself is to hand the project over to an experienced integrator like Frain Industries. Their Plug ‘n Play system means that one purchase order takes care of the entire process from initial concept to up and running.
Get more detail, get the book.
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