Selecting an Equipment Partner

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Anyone who’s worked in machinery engineering recognizes that installing a modern, automated packaging line is essentially an exercise in the effective management of quite literally thousands of details. One misplaced assumption can delay or capsize a project - an overwhelming development for even the most seasoned professionals!

When you approach manufacturers, it’s best to have a document prepared to help you plan ahead. Here are some questions to keep in mind:

  • Product
    • What is your primary product you are packing?
    • How many commodity types do you pack?
    • Does this product have different sizes that you want handled on a single machine?
  • Packaging Materials
    • What is the package type?
    • What are the dimensions of the primary package?
    • What were your concerns with the primary package?
  • Packaging Process
    • How will the product be delivered to the machine?
    • Will the package be standing up, laying on the side, etc.?

Assess whether the supplier can also serve as a single integrator with full accountability. When choosing an equipment supplier, be well aware that you’re not just buying a piece of machinery to accomplish a certain task, you're selecting a solutions partner.

Capability and Compatibility

Often, customers have a vision of what they want their complete product packaging to look like. This vision is often inspired by a product that has either been found online or seen on the shelf. Fox Solutions embraces projects like these, offering both industry expertise and collaboration. Through collaboration with Fox Packaging, it is ensured that your packaging is custom to the machinery that has been selected as part of your packing line; ensuring a functional and mechanical compatibility that will positively influence the efficiencies of your operations. When your packaging and packing equipment are custom to one another, your results will render higher efficiencies.

The benefits of being able to make more product goes beyond decreasing your per-item sales costs. In addition to producing better economies of scale, equipment partners have an opportunity to create strategic advantages that help customers maintain market share. Reviewing the financial, labor planning and customer-service aspects of your production needs will help you decide whether increasing your capacity is a worthwhile pursuit, and if so, by how much.

Efficiency of Equipment

Partly for sustainability reasons, but also for the sake of cost savings, buyers are seeking to use thinner materials. Machines have been redesigned accordingly, built to retain high speeds while handling product more gently. End-of-line packaging machines used to be fixed-automation machines, but now, to handle the proliferation of container shapes, sizes, and lighter weights, what’s required is more low-pressure conveyance, additional customization, servos, and supplementary robotics. Robotics can be more efficient at handling lighter weight packaging due to the amount of pressure and stress put on containers can be more tightly controlled, placing confidence in conventional fixed automation and drop-pack systems.

Continuous Improvement

Continuous improvement seeks to improve every process in your company by focusing on enhancing the activities that generate the most value for your customer while removing as many waste activities as possible. 

Common benefits include: improved product quality, increased efficiency and productivity, decreased cost, reduced waste, and most importantly, customer satisfaction.

The advantages of continuous improvement can be exponential. In addition to financial benefits, employees who work on improving the company tend to feel more personally accomplished--leading them to staying longer at the organization and producing more impactful results.

Service 

There are two types of maintenance strategies employed by companies that rely on equipmentreactive maintenance and preventive maintenance. Reactive maintenance goes by the “if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it” motto, a strategy that can sometimes save money short-term but often ends up costing even more in the long run. Preventive maintenance, on the other hand, is a carefully designed maintenance program that requires maintenance tasks to be performed routinely in order to avoid larger, costly fixes down the line.

It is thus important to schedule routine maintenance, such as inspections, oil and fluid changes, part replacements and more. These little fixes can help equipment to run much more efficiently, and in turn, a company will benefit from fuel and energy savings. Additionally, when equipment isn’t working in optimal condition, it creates many hazards, unsafe working conditions and even emergency situations where workers are injured. Preventive maintenance improves the safety of equipment, and therefore the safety of company workers, resulting in fewer on the job injuries and accidents.

Expertise 

When specifying equipment, you need to consider every detail, and sometimes machine operators may know something that buyers won’t. It’s best to involve experienced employees early in the process, as their insight and expertise can greatly contribute to averting a machine build disaster. For example, certain commodities react negatively to the heat, or require a low drop to the elevator.  

In addition, working with a technology partner who has vast product knowledge, an industry expert has a proven track record of success. Because they have worked with businesses similar to yours, they know from experience what solutions will be the best fit for you, making fitting recommendations.

Once you've got a clear idea of what you need to buy and you've identified some potential suppliers, you can build a shortlist of sources that meet your needs.

When considering the companies on your shortlist, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Can these suppliers deliver what you want, when you want it?
  2. Are they financially secure?
  3. How long have they been established?
  4. Do you know anyone who has used and can recommend them?
  5. Are they on any approved supplier lists from trade associations or government?

Choosing the right supplier involves much more than scanning a series of price lists. Your choice will depend on a wide range of factors such as value for money, quality, reliability and service. How you weigh the importance of these factors will be based on your business' priorities and strategy.

Fox Solutions is focused on understanding the pains and goals of our customers, ensuring that all packing lines are created or modified in their best interest. Having received an outline of customer goals, machinery is customized to meet the efficiencies determined by the volume of product that will be moved and packed, directly and positively impacting their overall success.

Contact us if you have additional questions, would like to be connected to a member of our sales team, or would like to schedule a consultation for your equipment project:

Aaron Fox - aaronf@foxbag.com

Jim Savingy - jim@solutionsbyfox.com

 

Topics: Packaging, Equipment, Fresh Produce, Fox Solutions, Produce Packing, produce packaging