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Packagers intrigued by equipment monitoring

We asked respondents what they thought about equipment monitoring systems. Such systems are designed to detect potential problems on packaging equipment before they occur, allowing technicians to fix the problem during scheduled maintenance versus during unscheduled downtime.

Would respondents buy such systems? Would they pay extra? Would they retrofit existing machines or specify such monitoring systems primarily on new equipment?

Answers were mixed. Many were intrigued by such systems and would want to find out more before committing to an answer. Skeptics were dubious and said such systems would have to prove themselves in their plants for a free trial period before they’d even consider them. Many respondents said they’d specify them on new machines but wouldn’t pay extra. Still others said they’d pay for it now on new and existing equipment.

Here are a few sample verbatim responses to these questions:

“I would pay extra and retrofit existing machines. Our plants are forcing machine operators, not maintenance people, to make on-the-go machine adjustments, so any early warning systems would be a huge benefit.”—Engineering manager with a large midwestern adhesives products maker.

“I think that would be great information to know during a shutdown or preventive maintenance

period. That information would help prevent downtime for something that was not called out on the standard preventive maintenance procedures.”

—Packaging engineer for a large maker of household cleaning appliances.

“It’s unlikely that we would buy new systems just to upgrade. If we were already planning to replace some equipment or expand, we would consider this type of equipment, but it’s unlikely that we’d pay extra to have it.”—Global packaging engineer for a large consumer products company.

“No, would not retrofit (too expensive, limited time to take machine down to do so). Sounds like the equipment monitoring system would be too complicated to add to already complicated new equipment.”—Engineering manager at a mid-sized, West Coast chocolate maker.

“The cost of such a monitoring system would have to be compared to the cost of line downtime and other PM systems.”—Engineer at a large southeastern chemical company.

“We need to just start collecting data. A self-fault-detecting PM system is way out ahead of where we are.”—Engineer at a small Northeastern food company.

“Will this technology overcomplicate the skills required of our existing personnel? What is the minimum that can be done to get the most possible payback?”—Engineering manager at a large midwestern brewer.

See the story that goes with this sidebar: Networks progress amid obstacles

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