28 August 2015 //
by Toni LaFleur
Consider the last time you planned a road trip: Where did you go? What was your budget? How did you get there? Did you make stops along the way? Similar to a road trip, successfully updating a packaging line requires identifying your end goal first, then creating a roadmap to get there. Answering the following 5 questions up front will help you identify your goals and project scope, and will help lay the groundwork for creating a packaging line that provides optimal efficiency, use of space and overall operation.
1. What Is the Project Scope?
Understanding and defining the scope of your packaging line project at the outset will ensure it does not derail. Begin by outlining and identifying the most critical pieces of the project based on your overall production needs, including capacity requirements. Identifying these needs upfront will allow you to assess the speed required from each machine along the packaging line and determine the level of automation required. For example, if you intend to manufacture a single product, then a fixed mechanical setup on your machine might make the most sense. However, if you intend to manufacture several products, which will require flexibility and changeovers, an automated system will make more sense.
2. What is the Driving Force Behind the New Packaging Line and What is Your Project Budget?
Identifying the driving force behind the new packaging line first will help you form your budget. Beyond just adding additional capacity, be sure to identify any secondary driving forces for the new line, such as operational safety, ergonomics, improved efficiency or utility consumption reduction. Analyzing and identifying all the different reasons for a new line will help determine what the system will cost, and support your budget request.
3. How Will the Project Be Managed?
Will a single team or a small group of teams manage the project? Understanding this from the beginning will help ensure the correct people are involved at critical stages throughout the project, establish procedures and, help prevent communications gaps between team members and the packaging machine manufacturer.
4. What is Your Project Timeline?
Another important piece of project management is developing a realistic timeline that includes all your tasks and goals. Establishing a timeline at the beginning of your project will help everyone stay on task, keep you organized throughout the process and help manage expectations.
5. What is Your Available Space?
Lastly, know what space is available for the new packaging line and identify any physical restrictions, particularly support columns, as their height and width will restrict line layout and the system that can be used. Identifying these restrictions upfront and communicating this information with the correct teams will help save both time and money when it comes time for actual installation. Also, the amount of available space may also drive what manufacturers you investigate, as they will need to have the expertise and capabilities to tailor a system and conveyor line to meet your space requirements.
Answering these 5 questions will enable you to comfortably move on to the next planning phase: spatial planning and operations.
If you need some advice or assistance answering these questions, contact EDL Packaging Engineers today. We’ll be happy to help.