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No uniformity in changeover demands (sidebar)

Meet the modifiers
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Along with training and new equipment one of the most often mentioned strategies for cutting down changeover time was in making modifications to equipment. Some readers were quite specific about the changes routinely made to packaging equipment.

"We do our best to shorten changeover times by modifying our machines as well as by training" says a consulting engineer for a leading household chemicals manufacturer. "For example we might put in a power adjustment by adding a motor rather than having to do manual adjusting."

At a manufacturer of lighting products a senior project engineer explains the rationale for cutting down changeover time. "We're making shorter runs and that means more changeovers. We're trying to decrease inventory levels. Because we're doing more changes more often we're becoming more proficient at it. To help we are modifying equipment by using time-savers like quick clamps."

The area maintenance manager of a national food company agrees. "We've added quick-change parts and we've added reference indicators to the machines so we can get up to speed pretty quickly."

That is echoed by the senior engineering manager of a major pharmaceutical company. "We currently have a team working on improving changeover times" he says. "For example we're adding repeatable indicators and match-mark positions for each product on our machines."

A senior packaging specialist for a cookware maker also has been active in modifying equipment. "We regularly make modifications and improvements to machines. We've removed bolts and replaced them with quick disconnects to make changeover easier."

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