Eliminating Costly Changeovers
It’s no secret that consumers are demanding more and more product variation and customization. The seemingly endless milk options (Almond milk, soy milk, rice milk, chocolate milk, skim, fat-free, goat’s milk, to name a few) on the market today are clear evidence that customers are rejecting the idea of one-size fits all. Big brands are even turning to personalized packaging Think: Share a Coke with PHC. (http://www.adweek.com/news-gallery/advertising-branding/why-brands-coca-cola-and-bud-light-are-making-packaging-personal-167340).
Product variety poses unique challenges for manufacturers – shorter production cycles of more products. Equipment that used to run, uninterrupted, for months at a time now needs to be stopped and started with increasing frequency to accommodate the influx of product variation. Frequent, lengthy changeovers have tangible consequences. The average annual cost of a one hour daily changeover on a significant packing project with the line running 240 days per year is $1.8 million (according to an article by ProcessOnline).
So how can manufactures reduce changeover time in a world of endless product variation? The answer is fairly straightforward - automate. Take guide rail, for instance. Miles of guide rail can take ample time to adjust when changing over your production line. Implementing an AutoRail can massively simplify and speed up that process by reducing the operation to just spinning a wheel or pushing a button.
Or perhaps your factory features an elevated conveyor. Installing an automated guide rail eliminates the time-consuming need for an employee to travel up and down stairs to make adjustments.
Maybe you’re experiencing changeover delays because you’re using air cylinders for a clamping mechanism thats manually adjusted depending on product dimension? Upgrading to a linear servo eliminates the need for changeover completely by measuring the amount of force applied and exerting the same amount of force, regardless of product size. Using a clamping mechanism with linear servos in place of a metering belt system would also eradicate the need to pause production to adjust the height of metering belts when product size or texture changes. PHC paddle laners also abolish the need for changeovers. The laners maintain a fixed width but feature gradual angle changes so that products of varying sizes can pass through. And the gradual angle means they are less likely to turn rolls.
As consumers continue to use their buying power to demand customized products, manufacturers should also turn to customization by investing in tailored automated solutions. In doing so, manufacturers have the ability to seamlessly manage product variation without falling prey to costly changeovers.