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Tips for working with flexible packaging machinery suppliers

Once a machinery builder is selected, you’re looking at a lead time of several months while your machine is being built. Here are some tips to keep the project on track.

1. Deal with the right person. Find the person on the supplier side who has the proper technical knowledge and authority, rather than going through the supplier’s salesperson in the hopes that they can translate. Ideally the person you deal with will be the one responsible for the design of the equipment.

2. Documentation control. Create one action document that lists who is doing what, and the status of each item, rather than sending 1,000 e-mails. Have formal and scheduled design reviews where you review the document together and assess status. This can be accomplished over the phone; it doesn’t necessarily need to be face-to-face. Make the supplier take ownership of maintaining and updating this document throughout the project.

3. Don’t be a stranger. You’re likely spending a lot of money on a new bagging machine. Plan to check in with the machine builder with regularly scheduled visits during the course of the project. Even in the best-run machinery builder companies, regular customer visits compel action surrounding your project. If they know you’re coming in, they’re more likely to ensure that attention is paid internally to ensure they’re on track in preparation
for your visit.

4. Test materials. Pay attention to the machine builder’s request for testing materials. Factor in the time required to have the rolls printed with a registration mark, slit to your desired width, and shipped to the equipment supplier. Avoid allowing a delay in providing materials as an excuse for a late Factory Acceptance Test or machine delivery. And if you are not sure of your final film structure, the machine builder’s floor is not a bad place to test the options.

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