5 Ways to Stay on Top of Packaging Machine Maintenance

Whether at home or at work, it is essential to maintain machines in order to keep them running smoothly. But while failing to change your lawnmower oil might set you back a few hundred dollars, failing to maintain your business’ packaging equipment can lead to downtime, spoiled products, and tens of thousands of dollars in losses. 

Needless to say, this is far from an optimal outcome.

But with the right maintenance regime, your machines can run for years without any serious downtime. This will involve regular preventative maintenance, a good working knowledge of the machines, and even automated maintenance. 

We’re covering how to prepare for upgrades and how to partner with your machine’s manufacturer to maximize your outcomes.

1. Maintain a Preventative Maintenance Schedule

There’s an old saying that goes: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. This applies directly to packaging machine maintenance. And while every machine has its own specific needs, here are some tips that apply across the board:

Read the manual. Then read it again. Then make sure your maintenance supervisor has also read it thoroughly. The manual will tell you what kind of maintenance your machine requires, how often maintenance should be performed, and will also tell you about any wear-and-tear parts that will need to be replaced regularly.

Remember to keep your machine calibrated. Again, exactly what kind of calibration is needed will depend on the machine. Common parts requiring calibration include cutters, perforators, bag carriers, and winding and unwinding reels. With continuous use, these parts will slowly work their way out of alignment, so regular calibration is necessary.

Don’t neglect hydraulics. As hydraulic fluid continually compresses and decompresses inside a tube or piston, it slowly breaks down on the molecular level. Over the course of several months, this causes the fluid to lose its strength, so a piston that’s supposed to have 5,000 pounds of force may only be putting out 3,500 pounds. Hydraulic fluid is a bit spendy, but it’s a lot cheaper than an unplanned production delay.

2. Know Your Spare Parts List

We’ve already talked about the need to replace wear-and-tear parts like blades. This is easy to do if you’ve got the parts already on hand, but it can be a nightmare if you wait until your blade is dull to place an order. The best course of action is to keep a small selection of frequently-used parts.

These include:

– Blades

– Bearings

– Suction cups

– Nozzles

– Pumps

This is an area where it is important to have a close working relationship with your maintenance supervisor. Once they’ve worked with a machine for a bit, they will have a good handle on what parts need frequent replacement. Ensure that they have the authority and budget to keep a good stock of replacement parts, and your machines will run smoother and last longer.

When you do need to order more parts, Karlville offers easy online ordering. We maintain parts warehouses in Miami, Florida and Lyon, France. No matter where you are in the world, this ensures fast, reliable shipping, so you’ll get your parts before you need them, not after.

3. Prepare for Obsolescence and Upgrades

We’ve found over the years that many customers are unaware that packaging machines can be upgraded. For example, suppose you want to add a spout insertion system. You can do that easily. There are also attachments for perforating rolls of packaging while they’re on the reel and web-based apps for more precise control over your machine.

These tools can extend your machine’s life well beyond what it would have been, by allowing you to package your products faster and scale up your production. Karlville makes all our retrofit options available through our website, so ordering an upgrade is quick and convenient.

Of course, even the best-maintained, most well-engineered machines are going to need replacement eventually. If nothing else, as technology advances, there will be better, faster machines as time goes on. When to pull the trigger on a major upgrade is a business decision that’s beyond the scope of this article. But it’s important to plan ahead for such a purchase and to know what you’re buying.

4. Autonomous Maintenance

One option we haven’t talked about is autonomous maintenance (AM). Under an AM regime, machine operators are empowered to perform basic repairs like lubrication, bolt tightening, and cleaning without putting in a call to the maintenance department. Operators are also expected to carry out routine inspections to identify potential issues.

AM is part of a larger system called Total Productive Maintenance (TPM). This program was developed by Japanese companies to extend the life cycle of their machines. It’s important to note that standard routine maintenance by qualified professionals is still an important part of TPM.

AM helps your machines last longer, but it also puts a lot of extra responsibilities on your machine operators. Because of this, it’s important that your operators have the proper training. This will significantly increase their level of proficiency, so they’ll have a better understanding of how to maintain the equipment correctly.

5. Choose a Reliable OEM Partner That Offers Good Support

With any type of specialized equipment like a packaging machine, the design and engineering will differ from manufacturer to manufacturer, and there aren’t a lot of independent experts in the field. To ensure that your maintenance regime is on point, you’ll need to choose an OEM partner who offers good support, long after the original purchase.

Karlville’s Global Service Program provides support in multiple areas. We provide retrofits and upgrades, supply spare parts, and we even offer on-site maintenance packages, which can be a better option for smaller companies who don’t have their own maintenance department.

Karlville also offers on-site training, so if you do have your own maintenance department, we can show them everything they need to know. For more information on our products and services, contact us today, or call our Miami office at (305)-533-1051.

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