Food Engineering
TECH FLASH

Efficiency is the key to a successful line

September 25, 2012
<div>PMMI's Tom Egan</div>
Tom Egan, vice president, industry services, PMMI.

Whether a food or beverage manufacturer aims to speed production, increase output or reduce its carbon footprint, an efficient line is critical to its success. This is because efficiency inherently requires accuracy, reliability and an effective—not wasteful—use of resources. These performance properties ensure a manufacturing line will move swiftly, with few stoppages, easy changeover and less energy usage, resulting in less waste.

For professionals involved in processing and packaging operations, “enhancing efficiency” is a reoccurring goal. “The constant need to bring product to market faster, cheaper and without sacrificing quality requires us to always revisit this objective– because your manufacturing line can never be too efficient,” says Tom Egan, vice president, Industry Services, PMMI.

Many new technologies, advanced materials and processes can contribute to greater efficiency on the line, but every CPG company may have a different way of determining the measures that are right for its operations, says Egan. A common practice involves calculating the company’s overall equipment effectiveness (OEE). Though the equation is well known throughout the industry as OEE = Availability x Performance x Quality, companies may have tailored versions that account for unique variables. For example, perhaps one company will consider downtime for maintenance, and another won’t.

“No OEE score can be universally compared, even within the same industry—and sometimes within the same company—if it includes multiple manufacturing operations across different product categories and regions,” adds Egan. “However, OEE is a significant performance driver that can influence important business decisions.”

Companies seeking to improve their OEE score may seek equipment solutions that enhance the speed of their operations, provide advanced machinery communication capabilities to streamline flow or enable fast and accurate scanning for product deficiencies. Flexibility is also an important attribute in packaging or processing machinery that must accommodate multiple variations of products. Modularity and computerized settings can make changeover between runs fast, easy and intuitive, according to Egan.

Regarding materials solutions for enhancing operational efficiency, there are a number of options that can help manufacturers reduce the weight and fuel-related costs of shipments. Advanced labeling and coding can also ensure easy tracking of shipments to retailers, mitigating any risk of lost product. In the event a company proceeds with a packaging format change, the most critical step toward ensuring efficiency in the transition is to keep an open line of communication between equipment and materials suppliers. Bringing all parties to the table early in the process will enable the manufacturer to troubleshoot any potential incompatibilities, preventing errors and downtime down the line, explains Egan.

For food and beverage manufacturers looking to improve their OEE scores, PACK EXPO International 2012 (October 28 – 31; McCormick Place, Chicago) will provide a wide range of equipment and materials solutions as well as an opportunity to meet with suppliers and address efficiency goals and obstacles. In addition to seeing the latest innovations from more than 1,800 solutions providers, processing and packaging professionals can gain insights into enhancing the efficiency of their lines at The Conference at PACK EXPO. With tracks dedicated to industry-specific issues, including manufacturing solutions, track and trace, and transportation and logistics, attendees are sure to learn from industry peers and advisors about the technologies and protocols to maximize efficiency. Visit www.packexpo.com for more information about show registration.