A project can be made or broken by the choice of packaging equipment and supplier. With so many variables, it can be hard to find the right equipment and support that meets your needs now and in the future. Here are some things to consider when evaluating your options.
1. Make sure your suppliers are qualified and reputable.
Are the food packaging machine manufacturers you are considering able to deliver successful systems on this or similar applications?
2. A thorough audit has been performed by the prospective supplier?
Because there are several different packaging methodologies, packaging platforms, and material options, it is beneficial to first conduct a thorough assessment of your current processes and how they can be improved upon or enlarged. You should work with a team that can provide you with guidance, expertise, and an understanding of your needs for both now and in the future if you are embarking on a new product or line. The prospective supplier, operations, marketing, purchasing, and engineering must communicate comprehensively.
You should share a drawing of your facility before committing to a supplier and ensure the equipment they are proposing fits on your manufacturing floor. If there are limitations, it is best to understand them early on so that solutions can be developed.
3. Make sure your requirements are specific
When sharing your project requirements, be as specific as possible so suppliers can develop options. In reviewing your RFP with a fine-tooth comb, they should indicate clearly where they can meet it, as well as where adjustments may be needed. With this information, the supplier will begin to consider a variety of options that might be able to meet your needs as you embark on what should be a long-lasting relationship.
4. Can the equipment handle full production?
Make sure your supplier provides you with a clear understanding of how the equipment is built before purchasing a packaging machine. It is important to consider its longevity before buying a packaging machine. In many cases, packaging machines have many moving parts, so a robust design will minimize vibration over time. Metal fatigue, stress fractures, bearing problems, and loose wires can result from vibration, leading to excess downtime and higher replacement costs. To estimate parts expenditures annually, ask for historical spare parts costs from similar manufacturers and equipment. Ask about other considerations that ensure the lines will hold up both in washdown environments and rigorous cleaning. Do your homework and ask other trustworthy professionals how the equipment and the supplier performed. Also, ask for the expected efficiency of the line – a good partner will be willing to share this information.
5. Flexibility is essential.
The equipment that you are reviewing must meet and exceed your current needs. Some plants have dedicated equipment for each SKU, while others switch over frequently. It is common for companies to have one-trick-ponies, which can’t change from one size to another or from one methodology to another (map, skin, vacuum). Determine if this purchase could ultimately lead to new business before making the purchase.
6. Think about the switchover.
Switchover is the process of converting a machine or complete automation line from running one product to running a different product. This impacts your total cost of ownership and downtime. Consider whether the equipment manufacturer has designed and developed methods to reduce the amount of time needed to change belts, films, trays, materials, infeeds, programming, buffers, etc. When changeover is easy, operators will be able to achieve high uptime efficiency and shorten their training time.
7. Is the supplier a good candidate for a long-term relationship?
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