While multivendor equipment trials are not new, they aren't terribly common, according to Alameda, who previously worked as an engineer at a packaging machinery builder. "Very few companies do a real head-to-head comparison," he says. "Most decide on a machine, [install it] and either they like it or they don't. "We're actually going to install different machines from three or four manufacturers. After 30 days, we'll have acquired enough production data so that we can make an educated decision about which machines work best for us." The new strategy is being implemented as part of a 10-year equipment acquisition plan that the firm has recently put together.
Increasing supplier competition
Dole Fresh Vegetables plans to turn up the heat on its packaging machinery suppliers. "Before we purchase major packaging lines again, we're actually going to be doing 30-day [in-plant] trials between different machine companies," Dan Alameda, a packaging engineer at the Soledad, CA, plant, tells Packaging World.