Downtime: the dreaded word known in packaging and processing plants everywhere. Liquid filling operations are no stranger to it.
How do you reduce downtime and keep your liquid filling line running at maximum production capacity? But there are a few ways that small and large brands can ramp up their production and make downtime a thing of the past.
Know your liquid filler and product viscosity
Use the best system for your product’s viscosity. If your product has particulates or chunks, consider using lobe pumps or other specialized pumps and valves based on size and density.
Limit waste and mess on a liquid filling line
Are you dealing with the dripping of product after filling? If so, look into ways to integrate shut-off nozzles and drip trays into your liquid filling operation. Also, do you have product splashes when running at high speeds on an intermittent motion operation? This problem might be solved by switching to a continuous motion or rotary filler.
Plan for buffer and accumulation
Make sure there is sufficient space available to design a line with proper buffer and accumulation to maximize line yield. Individual equipment pieces may run quickly, but if the line needs to work as a single unit. When buffer and spacing are incorrect, machines will frequently start and stop, negatively affecting packaging line yield despite the speed of each machine. Pay attention to the conveyor transfer points as they can cause problems for unstable and non-round containers. Transfer points can become places where containers can shingle or tip over if not designed correctly.
Look at your changeover
How frequently does a changeover need to be performed on your liquid filler? Keep in mind that while rotary fillers may reduce splashing, the changeover is typically longer for this type of system than for in-line systems. It is important to balance the need to speed with how often a changeover will be performed. Additionally, for reduced changeover time, peristaltic pumps are a great option. Remember that uptime and output for slower lines may be higher when compared to high-speed lines that take hours to change over.
Maintain your liquid fillers well
To prevent common problems, don’t ignore maintenance. Make sure your team performs maintenance on your liquid filling equipment correctly and regularly. It's also critical to not ignore the small issues with quick in-production fixes, which can then become permanent problems. Use the correct tooling for the correct containers to ensure the best performance and avoid damage to containers or machines. The most important tip is maintaining a structured maintenance schedule.
Build your team
Make sure your operations team is informed and knowledgeable. Enforce security levels to ensure only qualified and properly trained personnel can make changes to product-run recipes.
Keep operations informed
Keep the operations team informed of daily throughputs. If any department makes changes to the product, container, cap, label, or other component, it's time to talk. Provide room in your production schedule to accommodate any unforeseen challenges to accept the new changes.
Maintain the OEM relationship
Don’t be afraid to reach out to the manufacturer with questions. Also, make your OEM the go-to partner for spare parts.
Article image courtesy of Syntegon