The Advantages of Machines with Change Capabilities

How to Adapt and Adjust to Product Changes Faster

By Jeff W Berg, Product Development Manager at HMC Products

HMC Products designed and incorporated a seal driver system with an easy-to-read scale to reduce changeover time, making it faster and safer to adjust for different pouch sizes. Image courtesy of HMC Products

The need for machines that can handle changes in production levels will also need to handle changes for different products in a timely, cost-effective process.

The “Just in Time” concept has moved into the packing formula for several reasons; one being shelf life not wasted waiting on packer’s shelves.  The tracking of stored finished product becomes a full-time job; documenting when and where product is placed on a shelf and tracking how long, possibly becoming scrapped.

“Just in Time” theory has some inherent challenges that will need some tweaking to keep product moving out the door.  What this tends to do with production is create shorter runs of several different products, possibly in one day. This changeover time is a cost that is hard to control. Different films and different sizes all contribute to time. The possibility of a change from powder to liquid could be days if not setup for this change.

One machine for several uses is often the most cost-effective way for companies to remain effective in the industry.  This theory will help with cost reduction not requiring a machine for each product and reduce needed and costly floor space.

Flexibility is becoming a necessity

In the design of a new machine, forward thinking has become a requirement to become prepared for future business opportunities.  A company now filling powder products could have the opportunity to acquire a liquid fill job.  With forward thinking, the new machine is equipped with an auger for powder, possibly a slide gate system for a noodle type product, and a liquid fill pump.  This type of machine can run a full scope of products with complete changeovers all on one machine. This would consume less floor space than multiple machines for each type of product.

Flexibility is almost a necessity in this fast-growing business of packaging. The ability to adapt fast and adjust to product changes will be a game breaker if not done in a timely manner. These changes are not just product changes, but also the visible selling appearance of the pouch, amount of product, possibly adding zipper closure capability, or even a standup gusset pouch to name a few.

The benefits of a seal driver system

One machine with several uses speeds up change overs, reduces equipment costs and reduces the need for costly floor
space. Image courtesy of HMC Products

The use of a seal driver system (SDS) has several benefits when frequent size changeovers occur. The SDS has no cams that need adjusting for different pouch sizes.  The original method for a side seal adjustment move requires relocating the sealing assembly on the machine frame, including moving the sealing cams on the main line shaft. Moving cams is time consuming, physically taxing, and errors can be made causing premature wear to the sealing arms.

With the SDS system, the seal bars move on a dovetail plate that has a scale for repeat production runs.  When an application is initially setup, all location of seals logged, and performance is approved, the repeat of the same run is made simple.

The SDS system improves the sealing method by employing a parallel motion of the opposing seal bars as opposed to pivoting seal arms traditionally employed on older machines.  This straight-line motion improves the efficiency of setting seal bar pressure and travel.  With the use of the SDS and upon a machine stop, the seal bars open further, which reduces or eliminates “seal creep” that often causes product and film waste.

SDS systems may be designed for a specific machine, but several completed and tested designs are available for new machines as well as retrofits to older machines.  The standard sizes are 28.5 inches long, 46 inches long, and a large 56-inch that is servo controlled.

SDS systems could be the advantage needed for a more efficient operation.

About the Author

Jeff W. Berg is a product development manager with more than 45 years of experience working with machinery.

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