1. Back up training with helpful aids.
Train the operations and maintenance staff on a regular basis. Prominently display a troubleshooting chart on the machine, complete with helpful visuals and photographs. Always keep a sample of good carton packs handy as a comparison in case you have a problem with the raw materials later. Some packagers have their operators use an actual sample carton to set up the machine without relying on predetermined settings.
2. Ensure consistency going in and coming out.
In addition to consistent carton material, consistent input speeds into the cartoning machine can also reduce downtime. Ensure the consistent shape and condition of cartons as well as any and all inserts (leaflets, instruction sheets, etc.).
3. Formalize maintenance procedures.
Have trained senior operators complete a total productive maintenance (TPM) list, which will pinpoint actions for the maintenance team to close out. This reduces the time spent by the engineering team on checking the machine for issues. This policy can be applied to any machine, once training of senior operator staff is completed. Schedule regular visits from the manufacturer, both to monitor your care but also to install upgrades to your machine.
4. Stick to your cleaning schedule.
A preventive maintenance schedule only works if you use it. Know the expected life of parts so that they can be replaced in a timely fashion. Track the wear of chains and lugs so the cartons square up right every time. Clean cold glue adhesive machines regularly and check the viscosity of the adhesive regularly to avoid any lumping or splashing of adhesive. Maintain the vacuum pump and rubber padding regularly to avoid machine stoppage or carton dropping.
5. Recalibrate—and document—regularly.
All machines wear over time, so ensuring the proper calibration settings is critical. Keep track of volumes produced each shift to notice when performance starts to deteriorate and needs attention. Whenever a new shift record is achieved, document those calibration settings and make sure every shift is using the same settings.
6. Manage glue carefully.
Keep glue clean and store in a sealed container so that you don’t contaminate the hot melt tank on the unit. Check hoses and guns to make sure they are at the proper temperature. Don’t always rely on the readout on the machine. Consider switching to the no-clog nozzles for more accurate glue application and reduced downtime.
7. Reduce sources of inefficiency.
Update your vacuum system and change your suction pads frequently. Many vacuum systems are outdated and consume a lot of energy. There are systems available that use less energy, are quieter, and are more dependable. Also, keep the machine clean of problems like angel hair strings from hot melt glue, which can hurt your machine’s efficiency.
8. Have a startup procedure.
Mark your adjustment points by product and restrict access to those adjustment points to trained personnel. At the onset of each shift or product change, “slow start” your run. Bring the machine up to speed slowly while monitoring critical areas for performance to eliminate jams before ramping up the speed. And preheat the glue to the application temperature before starting production.
9. Consider SMED.
“Single minute exchange of dies” helps maximize uptime of machines, and it can be easy to implement.
10. Motivate staff.
Floor staff can have a significant impact on machine performance. Properly motivated operator and maintenance teams will increase production output. Reward shift teams that achieve production records or consistently high performance. Rewards do not have to be extravagant; they could be a pizza party, shirts, hats, etc. Create a team challenge in which the team that achieves a record production level across an entire week wins a steak dinner.