Articles

Resistance is Futile: After-Sales Service & Maintenance Are Essential to Production

By Mike Terry
Posted In : maintenance, service, Technical Service, Customer Service, packaging machine maintenance

Your packaging equipment needs service, maintenance, and repairs to meet increasing production demand.

Resistance is futile.

As a modern producer, you may consider additional costs derived from these necessary services and planning as embellished, an upsell sales tactic, or even unwarranted. And you wouldn’t be alone.  

Many packagers in today’s market are hesitant to adopt advanced enterprise-level or preventative maintenance strategies, packages, or agreements with their Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) partner. Instead, they rely on existing service staff or the acceptable response time of a local technician.

Yet, product and food packaging equipment continues to evolve across all applications. Regardless of sector or system, new technologies and innovations are becoming more interconnected, shattering limitations, and expanding production capabilities to optimize throughput, Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE), and packaging flexibility.

Purchasing advanced machinery to achieve these capabilities is only half of the equation.

Improving mechanical reliability, longevity, and overall production speeds requires new service and maintenance levels and trained personnel to match system complexity and sophistication.

Packagers who contend with this evolution may find themselves struggling to resolve modern system issues fast, handing their profits to better-prepared competitors who can handle mechanical failures, production gaps, and unplanned downtime quickly and even predict these issues before they become costly failures.     

Resistance is futile.

BEGINNING WITH THE BASICS OF SERVICE & MAINTENANCE

ROI - Return on investment for Packaging MachineMany packagers fail to understand that any expenditure on advanced after-sale service and preventative system maintenance delivers Return on Investment (ROI) from the onset.

Partnering with an innovative OEM builds a personalized rapport, establishes an essential working long-term relationship, and provides access to live operators who can schedule service at your facility when and where you need it. OEMs even include Preventative Maintenance Agreements, online training, and an average response time to keep machines in working order as part of standard service.

However, that is where the similarities between advanced service and maintenance packages and their standard counterparts often end.

Opting for more comprehensive service agreements delivers additional benefits and sets new standards for customers, including:

  •         24-hour, phone-based communication & guidance
  •         Dedicated onsite and on-call technicians
  •         Quarterly performance evaluations for your entire purchased line

These may seem like more “givens” than stand-out service and maintenance achievements to justify additional investment. However, their roles in planning downtime for lengthy repair processes – especially in rural facilities where the technology may be limited – cannot be overstated. 

THE COST OF STANDARD SERVICE, MAINTENANCE & REPAIRS

Consider your current packaging equipment service and maintenance options.

Who would you contact in case of emergency or mechanical failure? What is your average wait time? What do those repairs and maintenance cost you per day?

Relying on traditional resources – phone calls or third-party maintenance visits from journeyman technicians – will only take you so far.

Reduce Downtime with Equipment ServiceFor example, scheduling an onsite visit from local technicians can cost you THREE TO FIVE DAYS of production (on avg.). That is three to five days paying every employee on your line an hourly wage but leaving production at a standstill.

Under those circumstances, can your production bear the annual financial costs of such unplanned downtime? Can you afford to keep your packaging equipment service and maintenance status quo?

Let’s find out.  

Ten employees on your line work at $24 per hour (on avg.) in 8-hour shifts. Examining three to five days of stranded labor costs, here’s what you can expect to pay:

Ten employees per shift x $24 per hour (on avg.) x 3 eight-hour shifts per day =

$5760 total of unplanned downtime and stranded labor costs per 24-hour shift.

$5760 x 3 days (minimum) of downtime with standard maintenance response =

$17,280 total unplanned downtime costs for those three days.  

While this cost may seem minor in the grand scheme of doing business, multiply it over the number of occurrences in 260-300 days of annual production.

Now, your expenditures are creeping into the hundreds of thousands of dollars, negatively impacting your production and bottom line.

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TRANSCENDING STANDARD PACKAGING EQUIPMENT SERVICE & MAINTENANCE

In this light, investing in more comprehensive service and maintenance for your packaging system makes dollars and sense, long-term. It now falls to you to partner with a packaging OEM that can ease the transition to a broader range of options, alleviate any resistance, and streamline service and maintenance execution.

Surprisingly, these capabilities never come from lowering the price of preventative maintenance packages (though extensive discounts may become available) or choosing the least expensive option.

Instead, choosing the right OEM partnership for optimized packaging equipment service and maintenance – focused on both expedient mechanical proficiency AND personalized positive experience – comes down to two distinct factors: interconnectivity and customization.  

Ideal Support through Interconnectivity

Your easy access to real-time guidance from your partner OEM and leading remote service technologies allows your operations to grow and evolve at the speed of packaging innovation. This way, your production becomes faster, more capable, connected, and self-sufficient.

AR Work Instructions for Packaging EquipmentTo start, your OEM’s advanced service and maintenance technology – remote machine access, online scheduling portals and emergency support, and high-quality digital service and maintenance training – begins to blend with phone-based and onsite assistance. This synthesis gives you a deep understanding of your production line and service options.

Next, your existing packaging equipment service and maintenance personnel (if any) begin to support themselves in case of mechanical failure or stoppage without outside intervention. Personalized phone support and superior onsite response times (next day to same week) from dedicated techs are still there.

However, this newfound self-sufficiency and the sophisticated blend of service options becomes incredibly valuable to you.

How so?

Through hands-on technical experience and extensive system understanding, you lower your Total Cost of Ownership (TCO), extend the life of your machine, and save more on service and maintenance costs – especially outside the typical 1-year warranty period.

Customized Packaging Equipment Service & Maintenance

Interconnected service technology is critical when improving modern operations via enhanced self-sufficiency and streamlined system solutions. However, even the most advanced capabilities cannot solve every challenge for every producer.

Strategy for Packaging EquipmentFlow wrap, thermoformer, or tray sealing machine, unique production requires unique service and maintenance strategies tailored to your operations. It is here where customized packaging equipment service and maintenance become critical in your operational evolution.  

Improved OEM flexibility concerning open-source parts and preventative maintenance options allows service offers to mold to your needs easily and ensures qualified technical assistance and peak machine performance over the lifespan of your system.

Additionally, you may find the quarterly maintenance visits offered under standard agreements insufficient for your system’s complexity or operational parameters. Under the terms of your partner OEM’s comprehensive service package, scheduling repairs, Factory Acceptance Testing (FAT), and other remote and onsite appointments work on your schedule.

Every aspect of system performance is examined at every packaging stage, providing detailed analyses of your specific operations and executing the role of a full-time service and maintenance staff on your customized timeline.

CONTRIBUTING FACTORS FOR THE CUSTOM PACKAGING EQUIPMENT SERVICE EVOLUTION

Despite pockets of resistance from more traditional sectors and operations, these customized maintenance and service programs are quickly becoming the standard among forward-thinking producers.

Operators are looking beyond initial investment, examining their maintenance personnel, capabilities, service frequency, and OEE. After analyzing the data and obtaining an (often surprising) broader perspective, many seek out new partner OEMs and customized service and maintenance solutions to leverage and integrate into production protocols.

Why the change?  

The self-analysis and standardized service approach can enlighten producers who weren’t aware of these advanced service and maintenance options. In addition, producers’ operational data can yield powerful insights on the most impactful contributing factors for upgraded service:

Scalability

Upgraded packaging equipment service offers the technology and streamlined solutions to accommodate the increased demand for more advanced service capabilities. Experts attest that in the last three to four years, service and maintenance requests from existing customers have gone up dramatically from 1-2 calls per week to 4+. And the volume of these requests continues to rise.    

Personnel Needs

Producers either lack the qualified full-time maintenance personnel or the system analytics to identify, assign, and alleviate production gaps on their lines. Working under the terms of a superior Preventative Maintenance Agreement provides full-time, on-call maintenance managers who go beyond the ordinary checklist of common issues, examining every component of every line.

These experts better scrutinize how the lines are operating. They watch transitions from conveyance systems, listen for unfamiliar sounds, and observe product and machine interaction from loading to palletizing with a highly trained eye.   

System Longevity

Peak performance means more product at faster speeds. Maintaining this peak performance provides better ROI in a shorter amount of time. Experts estimate that a customer with enterprise-level preventative maintenance experiences 50-60% fewer break-fix calls than customers who opt for reactionary tactics, saving up to 15 times more on parts and labor. They also gain the added advantage of open-sourced part acquisition and expert mechanical analysis to predict operational failures BEFORE they happen.

Prevention

Ultimately, these custom service and maintenance benefits combine to form the complex framework for a Preventative Maintenance Program that does more. With this program in place, your dedicated maintenance managers can diagnose issues in real-time, order single-source parts for next-day delivery and installation, and even forecast future issues through advanced data analysis. Equipped with this data, they can implement a predictive maintenance model that provides a broad range of operational advantages, including:

  •         Reducing unplanned downtime by 3.5%
  •         Reducing maintenance costs by 13%
  •         Increasing return on assets by 24% 

THE FUTURE OF PACKAGING EQUIPMENT SERVICE & MAINTENANCE

Leading-edge customer service is not simply about addressing the problems of the present or even predicting operational issues before they become expensive failures. Modern service and maintenance position you for the streamlined scalability of tomorrow. 

The advent of Digital 4.0, the Internet of Things (IoT), and the dawn of Smart connected machines has uncovered an urgent need for increased remote capabilities and the integration of today’s top problem-solving technology.

Smart Connected Solutions for Packaging Equipment

Producers are integrating full-system packaging automation to solve ongoing labor issues. Remote service tools, such as Augmented Reality (AR), are becoming more prevalent in operations and maintenance workflows and integral components in remote troubleshooting applications.

Your operations must be ready to adopt these proactive service and maintenance tools to gain access to advanced single-source service solutions, expert technical staff, and quantifiable data-driven improvements across a spectrum of production performance measures.

The value of such an avant-garde investment?

  •         Real-time interface, diagnosis, and resolution of complex mechanical issues
  •         Trained, dedicated robotics and packaging line automation specialists and maintenance managers offering same-day assistance
  •         30-60% human productivity improvements in training, operations, and maintenance processes
  •         Live system performance monitoring data and predictive maintenance
  •         High-performance system architecture such as Rockwell Automation and Allen-Bradley® Integrated Architecture controls platform

TRANSFORM RESISTANCE INTO READINESS

Demand for faster production, more sustainable dynamic, user-friendly packaging, and a better brand experience is growing. However, if your production is down and waiting on standard service, that demand is not being met. 

When you’re ready for a superior level of customized service and maintenance that will lead you into the future, contact Harpak-ULMA Packaging.

As your single-source expert, we’ll help you transition into the natural evolution of proactive service and maintenance and prepare you with the speed and resources you need for peak performance from your packaging system.

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