Preventive Maintenance to Optimise the Packaging Line
Preventive maintenance is central to keeping the packaging line running smoothly and optimising production. Most machinery, in a similar way to the engine of a car, can benefit from the regular checks and basic maintenance. It can help to maximise the service life and reduce the risk of breakdowns.
With demand rising across many sectors, downtime can prove damaging and costly. This is why a preventive maintenance strategy is a good topic to discuss with the packaging machine supplier.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the aspects of machine maintenance and how to incorporate them into a strategy that works.
Creating a maintenance task list and schedule
To make sure all the bases are covered when it comes to maintenance, creating a task list and schedule is key. Some tasks could potentially be part of a daily routine of checks and others bi-annual, so scheduling and good record-keeping are important.
Basic routine maintenance tasks can include (but may not be limited to):
- Visual checks – lubricant and fluid levels
- Monitoring high wear risk parts
It is also a good idea to set a regular date for vital fluids or parts changes. By taking a proactive approach to this type of maintenance, machinery breakdown risk - and the subsequent downtime - can be significantly reduced.
In addition, there are other maintenance tasks that can be scheduled for monthly, bi-annual or yearly schedules, such as:
- Software updates
- Heavy cleaning
- Connection inspections – services such as water or electricity
Creating a schedule means involving key people to carry out tasks and take responsibility for keeping up-to-date maintenance records. Some maintenance aspects will need to be conducted by a professional or will require some staff training. Some will inevitably require some downtime, and this is something to put on a list for discussion with the packaging machine manufacturer or supplier when discussing a maintenance strategy.
Maintenance records and why they are important
Maintenance recording is a key part of the strategy and keeps everyone involved up to date with the latest information. It can help to provide additional data for the professionals, should there be a problem or breakdown.
Keep detailed records that include even the most basic checks. The OEM should be able to provide a list of tasks and recommendations, alongside training for key maintenance staff.
Over time, maintenance records can provide a resource that allows businesses to monitor and keep track of costs. This can offer insights into the performance of machinery, which parts are prone to wearing faster than others, and how much they cost. Sometimes these insights can point to the best time to update the packaging line or integrate newer machinery to avoid repeated replacements.
Keeping important, high-wear parts in stock
Another item to discuss with your OEM is which parts are most prone to wear and tear. Most of these types of parts will have some form of wear indicator, the monitoring of which is an important maintenance task.
Ensure that there is a reasonable, monitored stock of parts to turn to, both for regular maintenance and in case of breakdown. This is a sensible approach, especially if some parts tend to take time to order in. It is also worth noting that the parts for older machines can often be difficult to locate or expensive to purchase or ship.
Make sure there is an emergency plan in place
Emergency breakdowns or failures can be the worst thing that can happen on the packaging line. This is why it is essential to have a strategy in place that can be used in this instance to minimise the effects of downtime.
The most important part of the emergency plan should be to ensure that there is someone to call. If the OEM doesn’t offer an after-sales service, think carefully about engaging them. Breakdowns and emergencies are where manufacturers make or break their reputations and the productivity of the line itself.
While not all breakdowns require a call-out, it is a good idea to know that the service is there if needed. Ask the OEM about:
- Costs associated with an emergency call out
- Whether the OEM offers an in-house or third-party service
- Parts availability and stocks (this is where the company stock cupboard idea may come into its own)
Talk to Jacob White
As leading UK packaging machine manufacturers for more than 100 years, we know the value and importance of providing a dependable after-sales and maintenance service. We train our customers to carry out the tasks they can, and we deliver support wherever it is needed around the world through a network of trusted partners.
We believe that preventive maintenance and a solid strategy can truly optimise the packaging line in businesses of all sizes, whether they are fully automated or running a semi-manual setup. Maximise the service life and keep machinery performing at its best.