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Masterfoods' thoughts on machine modularity

Controls integration and automation supplier Elau recently engaged a pair of Masterfoods GmbH engineers in a conversation about modularity and its role in the packaging scene. Here's a portion of what Stefan Aumann and Stefan Kohl had to say. Aumann is senior segment engineer in the European sector, while Kohl handles planning and operation of packaging systems in the Multifoods plant at Verden an der aller, Germany. Masterfoods, of course, is owner of such popular brands as Mars, Dove, and Uncle Ben's.

What attributes factor into your procurement of packaging systems and machinery?

Aumann: Mainly cycle times and whether the machine conforms with the basics of modular machine design. When procuring new equipment, modularity is a real focal point. Conformance with PackML as defined by the OMAC Packaging Guidelines is also an aspect, because the standardization helps us. And we consider short setup times to be of great importance, of course.

What benchmarks are defined?

Kohl: We give the machine manufacturer very precise times that have to be maintained when changing products with the machines. This also includes information on the degree of manual intervention required for changing the machine from one product to another.

Is there already a wide range of modular machines available?

Aumann: Unfortunately, not to the extent that we'd like. We are confident, however, that the range will increase in the future. We demand it from our suppliers anyway.

Kohl: With this in mind, the decision for a machine or a system is also made depending on the "Best Practice" aspect. We analyze how machine manufacturers generally solve technical problems. If it doesn't correspond with our concepts of modularity, we start looking for another manufacturer. It doesn't help if a machine manufacturer has to stretch to meet our requirements for modularity. That manufacturer will never make as good a machine as a manufacturer that is already heading in the same direction we are Read more...

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