How to identify bottlenecks in a packaging production line

Imagine a production line in which only good parts are produced (100% quality), as fast as possible (100% performance) and without stops (100% availability). The Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) would equal 100%, which means “perfect production”. Even though dreams can come true (100% OEE), perfect production is rather rare, and in many cases, the manufacturing shop-floor can become, for those directly involved in the production, a nightmare instead. Machines fail for several reasons, humans make mistakes and all of this together makes it impossible to achieve perfection. Digital Maturity in the Packaging Industry Benchmarking Report: Download it now for free! The good news is that there is always room for improvement, i.e. we can always do things better. Aiming at that, a continuous improvement process should be put in place to tackle exactly what prevents a production line from being perfect. In the “Theory of Constraints”, Eliyahu M. Goldratt, author of the best-selling book titled “The Goal”, argues that one should follow “The Five Steps of Focusing” to achieve the goal (e.g. maximize overall throughput): Identify the system's constraint(s); Decide how to exploit the system's constraint(s); Subordinate everything else to the above decision(s); Alleviate the system's constraint(s); If…

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Traps to avoid when building your own production metrics system

Manufacturing companies are full of very smart people: engineers, technicians, skilled operators, maintenance people and so on. So, sometimes DIY (Do It Yourself) is the way to go to solve many problems in the company.This is not different when it comes to analytics systems for the production (sometimes called MES systems) and this is a valid approach. Software development is hard, but we must say that some companies are successfully doing it. Here we try to enumerate some of the mistakes that are normally made by manufacturing companies when trying to develop their own systems. 1. Since we are already doing this, we could as well… This happens in house renovations as well: we start wanting to replace the floor tiles, which would take us one month, but end up breaking walls. Since we are breaking the walls, we could as well remake the bathroom, and so on.Normally a project for production metrics at a company starts with: “let’s just add some sensors and save them on an SQL database, and we already know production, uptime, and speed” ( and that is a nice way to start ). But then new demands come: “how do we know the production…

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Why should a manufacturing company go to a tech event? Notes from Web Summit

When a partner told me about the Alpha Program, on the Web Summit 2019, I was a bit curious. "We are from the industry sector, our software is for the Packaging Industry...uh, let's think". But then we applied, passed for such a huge process where only 1 in 10 companies get chosen and were approved. So, it was official. PackIOT was in! Now, a few days after the end of Web Summit, we are so glad that we opened our minds to participate in the most important technology event in the world. So, we are sharing some thoughts from our experience with people from the industry sector. First of all, we need to be aware of what's Web Summit. Forbes has called it “the best technology conference on the planet”; The New York Times claimed that it assembles “a grand conclave of the tech industry’s high priests.” In 2019 more than 70 thousand participants from 163 countries, and more than 2 thousand startups came to Lisbon in search of an opportunity to share their ideas and grow their business. Huge, right? In general terms, we still realize that the industry and the technology ecosystem are far apart. Concepts of innovation, cloud,…

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Without engaging operators, your digital transformation might be a huge flop

Despite automation, the rise of new technologies and the growth of industry 4.0, factories employees still play and will continue to play a key role in the industry's success. According to a Gallup study, employees in production jobs are now the least engaged compared to other sectors. This clearly shows us that the industry as a whole is still struggling to actually increase employee engagement. While industry 4.0 technologies - such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, analytics, and mobile solutions - are being implemented in manufacturing plants around the world to transform manufacturing processes, little has been done to transform the employee experience. For years and years, managers for all kinds of industries have been trying to implement new processes and tools based on their own decisions and ways. And I can assure you this is one of the most common problems when companies are trying to get into new approaches and technologies. Usually, those who make a decision are those who are not going to effectively will use the new tech/process. To really achieve great results in digital transformation, the industry sector must bring the operators to the center of this discussion. And by saying this,…

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Measuring OEE on packaging lines: SCADA or a MES? Maybe none!

What technology do I need to measure the efficiency of my packaging manufacturing lines automatically? SCADA? For many people, SCADA (Supervisory, Control and Data Acquisition System) is the first kind of system that comes to mind when thinking about a shop floor software. And indeed SCADA systems are quite flexible and therefore can supply custom demands a manufacturing plant. But when talking about OEE (Overall Equipment Efficiency - see more here ), there are several key points to have in mind. OEE is strongly dependent on counters and unlike other time-series variables such as temperature and speed, counters only make sense when you consider the value within a time-frame. Usually it will be shift, day, week and jobs. So analysing performance of a job means aggregate the counter increment within the job period. And there are several other characteristics that add complexity to the case: when is counter reset on the PLC? How to get a fast query response of total production during a shift if the counter was reset during this period? How to get quick response on reports for longer periods, such as month to month?   The challenge is no longer on how many tags and…

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What we believe in and what PackIOT stands for

Our manifesto. How we will make a difference in the manufacturing industry? The world is full of smart people, full of successful companies, full of great products, so why did we have to create a new one? The manufacturing industry has been carrying the economy of the world on its shoulders for the past 200 years. It has made it possible for families to get out of poverty. Yes, it surely had its share in creating a lot of trouble too, such as pollution and some degree of concentration of wealth. But no one should doubt that the industry has brought us here where we are: the most prosperous age of humanity. However, we are in the middle of a new revolution, the digital revolution, and the manufacturing industry is being left behind. In the eyes of our youngsters, in the eyes of our society, the industry is not exactly the most desired place to work. Who’s to blame? Not the society, not the government and surely not the youngsters. For the sake of “industrial secrets”, manufacturing companies have closed their doors to the world, living as islands and time has passed. The internet came, social networks…

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How to track downtime in your packaging manufacturing line in 7 steps

Understand how often and why your packaging line is stopping Knowing how often your production line is stopping is one of the most important single things a production manager can do to start improving productivity. This comes before OEE, for two simple reasons: downtime is an actionable metric and easy to understand. Digital Maturity in the Packaging Industry Benchmarking Report: Download it now for free! There is a lot of theory as to how to do that. It is covered by Total Productive Maintenance (TPM), Lean Manufacturing and Six Sigma. Although it is important to understand the theory and we encourage you to study it, what we see in reality is that what most companies need is an easy-to-use and effective system. Therefore, we divide this into 7 steps. The reliability of information is the number one priority when it comes to data. People do not use the number they do not trust. And time is a difficult one to track without an automatic system. It’s easy to measure (you just need a stopwatch, right?), but it’s difficult to track. Many companies ask their operators to log downtime on a spreadsheet. “Every time the machine stops, you…

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7 Biggest Mistakes Packaging Factories Make With OEE

OEE + Packaging Manufacturers + Challenges Every production manager is familiar with OEE (an abbreviation for the manufacturing metric Overall Equipment Effectiveness) and has tried to implement it in their factory. For a production manager, OEE is almost as important as his or her credit rate, body mass index or golf handicap. It carries the simplicity of being a single number and this is great. However, there are many traps to avoid when using this in your factory to know if you are doing it right or not. Below we would be outlining the most frequent mistakes packaging manufacturers make when using the “holy number”. 1. Comparing Apples To Bananas Since it is a single number, people tend to use it to compare different factories, as a method of comparing their efficiency. This is a dangerous game, for some reasons: Not all companies calculate OEE the same way. Actually, if you ask 10 production managers how they calculate OEE, you will get 11 different answers. Some exclude preventive maintenance from the availability calculations, others exclude holidays others don’t. Batch sizes and process inherent particularities can hugely affect OEE. Take for example a film extrusion line compared to cosmetic plastic…

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