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8 Key Questions to Ask Your Packaging Machine Manufacturer
While comparing product features is essential when selecting packaging machinery, you’re making a capital investment with long-term implications. You want a packaging machine manufacturer that will stand by their technology and provide a reliable source of customer service and innovation.
These eight questions will help you evaluate your manufacturer options with an eye toward the total cost of ownership, not just the purchase price.
1. What’s Their Reputation and Track Record?
This should be one of your first areas of investigation. The packaging manufacturer industry is growing rapidly and that means there is more competition. This is great for you as a consumer but can be a little overwhelming for a first-time buyer. According to the Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies (PMMI), the world market for packaging machinery was worth $36.8 billion in 2016. It’s estimated to reach $42.2 billion by 2021.
As a result of this growth, there are more options than ever. However, there’s something to be said for longevity, experience, and integration within the industry.
- Has the supplier been in business for a long time?
- Does the supplier have a large base of customers with equipment installed for several years?
- Do they have partnerships with other important players in the packaging supply chain?
- Are they setting the pace for innovation in the industry?
- Does the manufacturer specialize in the process you require?
While case studies and customer testimonials from the manufacturer are helpful, be sure to do your own due diligence. Read industry publications, attend industry trade shows conferences, and solicit recommendations in your network.
Karlville is an established leader in the industry with over 3,000 machines in operation around the world. With sales and service locations in North America, Europe, and Asia, we’re well positioned to tackle any future challenge with eight supply chain partner factories.
2. Can You Visit a Showroom and See the Machine in Action?
While many packaging machine manufacturers have videos, graphics, and virtual tours of their technology to demonstrate how it works, seeing the machine in person makes a big difference. You can test it out for yourself, ask questions on the spot, discuss customization, and get a sense of how it would work for your packaging processes. You can also see if the manufacturer is quick on their feet and able to address your questions confidently.
Karlville has a Technology & Service Center in Miami, Florida that demonstrates our core machine competencies. We welcome visits by potential customers so we can make sure we have an excellent fit for your packaging needs.
3. Are They Innovative?
Forward-thinking manufacturers are always seeking ways to improve accuracy, handling, safety, and efficiency. PMMI reports that there are several automation technologies in high demand. Look for manufacturers actively working on these technologies. Make sure they have ways to upgrade the machinery you purchase today.
- Intuitive Human Machine Interface – Clear and intuitive instructions with graphics, dashboard, and mobile connectivity
- Smarter Sensors – Magnetic sensing for greater reliability
- Standard Communications Protocol – Fully automated safety communications
- Software Compatibility – Increased production and less maintenance
- Clean-in-Place – Rapid changeover and cleanability allows for flexibility
- Integrated Condition Monitoring – Self-tuning and calibration
- Fully Integrated Connectivity – Controllers with digital simulation for online robotics and motion control
- Overall Equipment Efficiency – Improved access and analysis of machine performance data
4. Are They Focused on Green Technologies?
As you know, increasing public awareness of environmental issues has resulted in higher demand for sustainable packaging and processing operations. Look for a packaging machine manufacturer who understands this trend and is actively incorporating green technologies. This will not only save your company money but it can also serve as a way to differentiate your product in the marketplace.
Ask the manufacturer how their current line of machines reduces waste. Do they have anything in the development pipeline that will be more sustainable from an energy or materials standpoint? Have they received any awards for their packaging innovations in this area?
Karlville was recently recognized by the Sustainable Packaging Coalition for its collaboration with several key industry players to develop ultrasonic pouch making, filling, and capping machines that can process 100% recyclable nanomaterials.
5. Do They Offer Retrofits and Upgrades?
You may not always need brand new equipment. If you need a retrofit or upgrade, you’ll want to work with a packaging machine manufacturer with a specialty in your packaging process. This will ensure they understand the typical requests and have solutions ready to go. Ask what types of customizations they’ve performed for customers like you.
If you’re purchasing new equipment, it’s equally important to know how they handle upgrades so you can continually improve your current machine’s efficiency. This will help extend the life of the machinery, improving your return on investment.
Karlville recognizes this need and has established retrofit and upgrade options. They will also work closely with clients to develop a tailored solution, making your machine work exactly how you need.
6. Do They Sell Packaging Machine Spare Parts?
Googling “packaging machine parts” will give you an overwhelming list of vendors selling spare parts. However, it’s best to deal directly with your packaging machine manufacturer to make sure you get the right part at the best quality (especially if they’re aftermarket). At the time of purchase, your manufacturer should provide you with a spare parts list that includes all wear parts, classified by how often they’re typically replaced.
For example, we’d recommend keeping certain parts in stock at your plant – particularly those with a shorter life cycle or a long lead time for production. Karlville maintains an in-house inventory of the most commonly required repair and replacement parts in two strategic locations: Miami, USA, and Lyon, France.
7. How Robust is Their Customer Support?
Undoubtedly, this is an important consideration when comparing packaging machine manufacturers. You’re not just buying the machine, you’re buying into their company’s overall expertise. There are few factors to keep in mind.
Initial Training – Your machine operators need training on how to set up, calibrate, and properly operate the machine, as well as common maintenance issues and troubleshooting. Find out more about this training – is it onsite, how much does it cost?
Service Technicians – Are the technicians who respond to your calls employed by the packaging machine manufacturer? Are they specialized in your machine? How are they trained and kept updated? Do they have any customer satisfaction statistics to share?
Remote Access – Can customer support access the machinery remotely to troubleshoot? This is a quick and easy way to resolve any packaging machine repair issues.
Cost – What customer support is included in the cost of the machine, if any? Do you need to purchase a plan? Are there customizable options?
Karlville has a Global Customer Support Program to provide the best service possible. With service centers based in the US, France, and Taiwan, we match the technical resources based on location, type of machine and timing.
8. What Preventive Maintenance Do They Offer?
Most packaging machine manufacturers will provide a list of recommended preventive maintenance activities and their frequency. Be sure to have clarity on this after the purchase and find out what could void any warranty.
It’s essential to have a certified technician audit and inspect your machinery, perform preventive maintenance, and look for issues that could become a problem later. They can also provide expert advice on how to maximize the life of your packaging machine. Ask how much this costs, what it includes, and how often it’s available.
Karlville offers comprehensive preventive maintenance packages to maintain efficiency and longevity of your equipment. They can be adjusted depending on the type of machine, frequency of use, and knowledge of operators.
Making the right packaging machinery purchase will have a positive effect on the success of your product for years to come. Add these eight questions to your list as you consider your packaging machine manufacturers. Contact Karlville to learn more about how we can enhance your packaging options and support you through the process.