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Determining when to rebuild or replace a form/fill/seal machine

Here are some warning signs that may indicate it’s time to either rebuild or recondition your form/fill/seal machine.

1. Speed and efficiency reductions. If a technician has to babysit the machine in addition to or instead of the operator, it’s a definite warning sign. If a f/f/s machine’s uptime availability drops much below 97%, it’s a sign. That may sound high, but it’s not—considering that each machine on the line must operate at a monthly availability of at least 97% to get an entire packaging line OEE (overall equipment effectiveness) to be above 85%. Gathering data to document these reductions is often the only way to justify a return on investment on something new.

2. Quality decreases. When you find the machine can no longer consistently make a good bag, its time may have come.

3. Changeover time increases. Usually this means it takes more tinkering to get it right. The cost associated with this type of downtime can really add up.

4. Maintenance increases. Some companies use specialized maintenance software like MP2 to not only help keep maintenance running smoothly and avoid surprises, but also track equipment maintenance trends to provide the big picture.

5. Component obsolescence. Parts are no longer available from or supported by the machinery manufacturer or third-party supplier, including old PLCs, proprietary controllers, or even outdated servo gear. When it becomes more expensive and takes longer to source critical parts, it may be time to look for a new machine.

6. Requirements change. Marketing may want a new bag format, size, film thickness, or zipper or fitment. Replacing may be a better option than modifying the bagger to do what it wasn’t designed to do.

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