The best way to maximize your machinery’s uptime is to schedule regular inspections. Catching minor issues before they develop into major repairs saves you time and money.
1. Verify your vision system.
Before you invest in a vision system, make sure the system is proven with a professionally done feasibility study. A great systems integrator is one who has a preferred or certified award from the system supplier. Don’t be fooled to think because a system uses a new smart camera it will be any easier to implement. The basics of lensing, lighting, and staging have to be done before you start. Then your team needs to be ready to do simple troubleshooting like refocusing or calibrating.
2. Check your monitors.
Check that the photo mark detection and scan head functionality works properly. Prepare the batch printer contact/non-contact type by suitable ink filling and cleaning. If the machine has a programmable control panel, check if there is a provision for single-touch playback. You should bring the film with its photo mark to the center of the jaws to avoid wastages. Check that the alarms that stop the machines for safety and operational mistakes are in working order.
3. Use the weekends for thorough physical inspections.
Have “wear-and-tear” parts available to prevent long down times. Don’t allow operators to touch magnifying glasses on machines. Have engineering teams perform all height adjustments and magnifying glass adjustments. Record and track downtimes on each and every machine, and analyze every three months. If downtime is more than 5%, then dedicate immediate attention to finding the root cause.
4. Don’t forget about the bearings.
A broken bearing can be your worst nightmare. These are what keep any part in motion moving. If one cracks or breaks, your whole operation can come to a screeching halt. So inspect them all the time and keep them lubricated. And check out food-grade silicone spray if you haven’t yet.
5. Check tightness of vacuum.
On roll stock packaging machines, it is important to know that your vacuum system is tight each day before production resumes. Some machines come with a static check mode in the program, which is a good start. The seal circuit should also be tested by installing a ball valve in line with the infeed vacuum line, so it can be closed while monitoring a vacuum gauge for leak-down rates. If leaks exist, use standard isolation methods to find the area of the leak and correct it.
6. Manage the risks.
Make a risk assessment for each component of the machine, asking what could cause this component to fail or stop. Check each machine against the risk assessment list before each shift, so it starts with a “clean bill of health” for the next shift. When a failure occurs, ask what might have gone wrong, or what might have been missed, in the last assessment. Small steps of improvement should produce a better success rate and higher productivity over time.
7. Automate key performance indicator (KPI) data collection.
If you don’t know about it, you can’t fix it. Many plants are stymied by a lack of accurate information that would allow them to understand why they are stuck at current productivity levels. Or, there are so many opportunities it is difficult to know what problems to attack first. Fortunately, real-time performance management software is now available that allows companies to automatically collect accurate, real-time performance data from various sources. This allows a complete characterization of line performance through continuous tracking of OEE and other KPIs in real time, and the relation of these to every equipment failure— including frustrating short stops that might just be a few seconds in duration.