Understanding and increasing packaging line productivity

Michael Mailutha of Pfizer Global Manufacturing and Ignacio Munoz-Guerra, AutoPak Engineering Corp. co-delivered the presentation Ways to Increase Packaging Productivity and Reduce Bottlenecks, at the 2004 International Pack Expo in Chicago in November.

They opened with three key definitions:

1.Machine efficiency: The ratio of the actual operating time divided by the total available production time. For example, if the actual operating time of a packaging machine was 301 minutes and the total available production time was 430 minutes, 301 divided by 430 would equal 0.7. Multiplying that number by 100 = 70%, the machine efficiency.

2. Line throughput: The total amount of products packaged in a shift divided by the amount of minutes in a shift. So if a 240 bpm line ran for 301 minutes, it would produce 72곐 bottles. If the total shift was 430 minutes, line throughput would be 168.

3. Dynamic speed control: The equipment capability to change its operating speed given by the backup level experienced at the infeed end of the equipment. Dynamic speed control can increase equipment efficiency as it enables a machine to lower its speed when an external stoppage occurs, running for a longer period of time before it stops. Dynamic speed control also increases line production throughput. When coupled with a buffer system (equipment that balances production output between work centers), it will be able to divide the line in two, creating a cushion between them. This permits the equipment to run longer with less stoppages.

The two speakers described a buffer requirement case study in which the line’s initial conditions included a running speed of 240 bpm, with throughput at 168 bpm. Downtime was unknown. After observing the line, the study recommended adding buffer equipment upstream of a labeler that could accommodate 1ꯠ bottles and operate at a speed of 210 bpm. The study projected an increase of line throughput to 200 bpm, with a 20% increase in efficiency. The implementation cost of $100ꯠ was projected to deliver a six-month payback.

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