Garvey Blog Guide to Purchasing Packaging Equipment

Oct 3, 2022 | Equipment, Packaging

Facilities have to consider a lot of variables when buying packaging machinery. This significant investment involves researching machinery brands, makes, and models on top of selecting a vendor for service, supply, and preventive maintenance.

An investment in new equipment can significantly enhance growth and profitability. However, unless the adaptation is thoroughly planned, you run the risk of a new machinery project failing or not meeting growth expectations.

This article highlights the issues companies must consider before committing to new equipment and the steps to take to define a successful integration.

Calculating Your Current KPIs

When preparing for an investment in new packaging machinery, you should understand your packaging line’s top key performance indicators (KPIs). A solid understanding of how your line performs provides a baseline and can pinpoint what equipment needs to be updated, augmented, or replaced.

There are a lot of KPIs you can measure. Below are the top seven metrics to focus on to enhance profitability and performance.

  • Throughput
  • Throughput time
  • Overall Equipment Effectiveness
  • Unplanned downtime
  • Capacity Utilization
  • Quality
  • Average changeover time

Hands down, throughput is the #1 metric for assessing the quality of your production line. Simply, throughput is a way to measure the effectiveness of your entire production line. In technical terms, it’s the production rate, i.e., how much you can produce over a certain period.

We’ve detailed in previous articles how to measure the throughput of individual machines to calculate the throughput of your entire production line. Our team also has a calculator ready to help you understand your throughput and line efficiency. Ultimately, you’re looking to find your constraint or the pieces of equipment whose performance is the lowest. Your entire line is only as fast as your slowest machine.

Understanding the Anatomy of Your Production Line

A production line relies on a series of individual machines to function optimally. Having a clear specification for each piece of equipment will help with investment decisions and enable suppliers to understand exactly what you require.

While every facility is different, these are generally the core components of a packaging line:

  • Conveyors/Accumulators – Move products through the operating line. Our team at Garvey provides an accumulation conveyor system that keeps products moving even when other pieces of equipment are down, allowing production lines to keep up performance and profitability. 
  • Container handlerAll containers need to be handled manually or by equipment such as push feeding, grabbers, or robotic arms.
  • FillersThere are two types of fillers: liquid and solid. Liquid filers use gravity to pump to fill the container to a specific level. Solids are measured by weight, volume, or automated count of the number of solid units going into each container.
  • Capsulers – These machines feed circular disks from a hopper for crimping.
  • LabelerLabels are for various purposes, from product codes, logistic information, consumer-facing information, and marketing. Labels can be applied in many ways, including handheld, manual, semi-automatic, in-line automatic, and rotary labeling.
  • Casepacker – Once products are completed, they are usually placed in cartons that have been constructed within the facility, often by a case erector. These cartons are manually or automatically filled with products by equipment based on gravity, grippers, conveyors, robotic arms, or manually.

Equipment Location

It is critical to understand the exact location and in what environment equipment will be operating. Factors affecting machines’ performance must be considered, such as heating, ventilation, air conditioning, dust control, and dampness.

New or Second-hand Equipment?

Many buyers’ first consideration is getting new equipment. While new machinery tends to be available with more finance options, lead times can be lengthy as most manufacturers do not have in-stock equipment offerings except for smaller machines and components. 

Previously owned equipment is often available immediately but might require modification and augmentation to work seamlessly with your production line.

Instead of replacing equipment, Garvey works with packaging production lines to increase their throughput with their existing line. By adding additional accumulators to protect your constraint, production lines can often increase their throughput by as much as 20% to 30%.

Create a List of Potential Suppliers

Once you have figured out your production throughput, equipment needs, and environment, you should send a request for quotation to a limited number of potential suppliers. About 3 to 5 manufacturers will be an optimal amount to receive offerings without getting overwhelmed. If you are not satisfied with that quote received, an additional round of companies can be contacted.

If you have additional questions about purchasing packaging equipment, our team is here to help.