Last But Not Least
A Look at End-Of-Line Equipment Trends, Challenges and Solutions.
By: Elisabeth Cuneo, Editor
End-of-line equipment, including palletizing, offers packagers speed, reliability, flexibility and productivity. What are the most important factors when considering a new machine, aside from cost? And which consumer trend is driving changes to these equipment, including the push for smarter machines? We chatted with Doug Stoll, Product Manager – Palletizing at Honeywell Intelligrated to learn more about what customers want from these machines and some advice about finding the right equipment.
Packaging Technology Today: What do your customers want from end-of-line machinery?
Doug Stoll: Cost is certainly a factor in all decisions. Beyond this, there are four key factors that drive end-of-line solutions. Safety, speed, capability and reliability are key factors in this decision. Safety has always been important, but customers are increasingly aware of industry standards and are demanding more. Not only are customers asking for solutions to handle critical production rates, it is necessary to plan for the future and understand that systems must account for future production rate increases.
Customers are now increasingly aware of packing trends and SKU proliferation. As a result, customers are looking for a wide array of capabilities. These range from unique package handling features, up to advanced user interfaces that give end users the flexibility to adjust and/or create patterns and load configurations. And perhaps the most important factor in today’s production environment is uptime, or reliability. End-of-line equipment must be robust and reliable. Customers are focused on accessibility, maintainability and diagnostics, allowing for maximized uptime.
PTT: What are common problems customers face when dealing with these machines?
Stoll: At a high level, downtime is a very common problem customers face today. There are many events that lead to downtime, including failures, required maintenance (whether preventive measures or due to failures), fault recovery and jams. Rugged, robust, well-designed machines will limit failures while enhancing access and maintainability.
Consistent handling of a variety of products at adequate production rates can be a challenge for some manufacturers. Fully understanding package types, patterns, and load configurations (and their respective rates) prior to ordering is key to overcoming this challenge.
PTT: I’ve heard a lot about the rise in variety packs as it pertains to beverages, like craft beer. How are consumer trends like this impacting palletizing needs?
Stoll: Changes in packaging types, sizes, materials, etc. all impact end-of-line equipment. These packaging trends drive the demand for special case handling equipment, automatic change-over, pattern utilities, and a “smarter,” user friendly, and more flexible class of machine.
PTT: Aside from cost, what is the most important machine capability that customers consider, i.e speed, flexibility, size, innovation?
Stoll: Priorities change based on manufacturing segment. Overall, flexibility is becoming the customer focus in today’s space. Flexibility allows customers to adapt easily to everchanging product and packaging types. Generally speaking, speed and reliability are prioritized in the food and beverage industry.
PTT: What single piece of advice would you give someone looking to purchase new palletizing equipment?
Stoll: Do not focus solely on the palletizer, rather treat it as part of a system. The conveyer system and ancillary equipment in and around the palletizer need to be considered as a SYSTEM.
Equally as important, consider the future, evaluate those scenarios, and make sure to account for production changes like rates, different product types and more.
Honeywell Intelligrated designs, manufactures, installs and integrates complete material handling automation solutions tailored to the specific operational requirements of leading retailers, manufacturers and logistics providers. Solutions include industry-leading automation equipment such as conveyor, sortation, palletizing and robotic systems, combined with advanced software and controls. Honeywell Intelligrated backs each installation with complete lifecycle service and 24X7 technical support. More information can be found at intelligrated.com.