Optimizing Packaging Systems Throughput

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By Emilie A Lachance - January 12, 2021

Nestlé is the world’s largest food and beverage company, with over 400 factories in 86 countries. Companies that operate at this scale have resources that smaller food products businesses generally don’t.

Why is This Important to Smaller Food Manufacturing Businesses?

Companies that operate at large scale are able to implement and test industry ideas that may be gaining ground that smaller businesses may not have the resources or bandwidth to try. This means that it can be useful to consider what ideas they’re testing and the direction that they think food manufacturing is headed.

What Can Smaller Food Manufacturing Businesses Learn from a Nestlé?

In a recent presentation at Automation Conference & Expo, Tom Doney, a leading engineer for Nestlé shared his opinions on the application of new technologies for food packaging. Nestlé has been evaluating and/or testing many of the Industry 4.0 technologies that you read about.

Of all of the opportunities for packaging line improvement, Doney was most enthusiastic about machine monitoring.

“The connecting technologies available to consumers that rock a CPG company’s world are the same technologies that will enable us to grow and prosper,” Doney said. “The digital factory will enable a step change in manufacturing performance and support new consumer needs and business models”, he added.

Using a tray shrink packaging line as an example, Doney detailed the various levels of connectivity, beginning with sensors monitoring the packer’s inlet and outlet. Combining the information from all the flows, it is possible to monitor a machine’s state at all times. “It can be running, it can be stopped, it can be starved, it can be blocked...” he said.

“As Nestlé looks toward the future, it will likely progress from its current pilots taking place mainly for performance measurements and energy consumption toward machine condition monitoring”, Doney said. “The first priority, however, is to get overall equipment efficiency (OEE) data to be more accurate.”

Removing Obstacles to Throughput & OEE for Food Packaging Systems

However, there's traditionally been an obstacle to achieving Doney's vision. From a recent Packaging Digest article, “a barrier to packaging line efficiency improvements has been the ability to get machine monitoring analytics technologies through the IT screening process. Operators may consciously avoid initiatives that involve significant IT resources, as these initiatives may be viewed as a “luxury” beyond the core mission of quality, delivery, inventory and productivity. But, it is important to recognize that advancements in technology exist today that minimize IT intensity and fit within the budgets and scope of even small FMCG companies.”

In other words, technologies like Worximity, that are low barrier to entry, affordable SaaS solutions enable food packaging line operators to implement advanced IIoT capabilities that are proven to increase throughput and machine, line and facility OEE.

Optimizing Packaging Systems Throughput

“Take packaging equipment downtime as an example. Unplanned downtime is always inopportune and can strongly impact throughput. But a plant manager may not have the necessary data to develop insights into when or for how long unplanned downtime occurs, much less if it represents a flat or worsening trend, or if it tends to occur at similar times of day or at irregular intervals. Without this data, it is challenging to look for “patterns of opportunity” in identifying issues, implementing countermeasures and boosting productivity.”

Overcoming the three reasons why many packaging operations don’t ‘do lean’ very well.

1 - Getting operating data is hard. A way to gather baseline data on operating packaging line KPIs such as downtime and the associated fault conditions and then getting data on which changes improve throughput can seem harder than it is. Without accurate, unbiased data, packaging line operating managers and operations teams rely on sporadic observation or intuition, which leads to faulty conclusions and missed optimization opportunities.

Worximity provides always-on, behind the scenes machine operations data.

Bypassing operators to gather data provides a range of advantages. Operators can be busy, particularly during line outages, micro-stops and product changeovers which are the exact times that you want accurate data on what’s happening to evaluate what is driving downtime and reducing throughput. It’s unfortunate but true that operators have an incentive to inaccurately report production KPIs. An unbiased machine-based solution removes bias and improves the accuracy of data, and therefore the insights that improve throughput.

2 . Equipment and their related software varies. Packaging lines are created by assembling a wide variety of equipment and packaging equipment brands. With consumers driving the proliferation of product types, packaging lines must now quickly adapt to product changeovers efficiently. This means that packaging lines may now branch across different types of packaging filling, sealing and boxing areas, making analysis and optimization even more difficult with a multitude of factors influencing the throughput of any one area.

Worximity spans across all of these packaging equipment brands.

Worximity provides a consistent normalized dashboard that makes the machine type or brand ‘invisible’ to the analytics, is essential in today’s packaging environment to make smarter, more timely throughput optimization decisions.

3. Multiple shifts lead to blind spots. Advanced packaging lines are expensive, particularly as food manufacturers embrace new technologies such as robots. Maximizing packaging line throughput and related ROI means running multiple shifts. Getting accurate data across multiple shifts, particularly evening shifts where management may not be as present, presents a range of barriers to accurate and timely data.

Worximity is ‘always-on’.

By gathering accurate data 24/7 and by having the ability to monitor machinery performance across all shifts, companies operating food packaging lines can maximize packaging line throughput and ROI.

You Don't Have to be a Nestlé  to Optimize Packaging Systems Throughput. 

Maximizing packaging line throughput takes a combination of embracing methodologies such as ‘lean’ and implementing the technology infrastructure necessary to extract the most value from these methodologies. Companies with vast resources such as Nestlé are pointing the way for smaller manufacturers and they’re saying that the best thing that a packaging line operator can do to improve throughput is to implement machine monitoring technology. 

Worximity removes the barriers to implementing real time machine monitoring for smaller food manufacturers, across any brand of packaging equipment. Worximity can produce throughput analytics at the machine, area and facility level enabling packaging line throughput optimization to become a reality for any sized food manufacturer.

To get your packaging line throughput improvement journey moving, book a Worximity Free 7-Day Trial and let's chat!

 

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The Worximity Smart Food Factory solution is a low-cost hardware system that can be up and running in a few hours combined with an easy and intuitive yet powerful analytics dashboard that provides fast ROI to start and a roadmap to full-on IIoT success.

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