Part three of our article series about secondary packaging system design optimization concludes with three aspects that are easily overlooked or dismissed as less important. Each one, however, directly relates to operators’ ability to do their job as efficiently as possible.
Extended magazines are often an overlooked yet easy to implement aspect of system optimization. The fewer times an operator has to interface with a specific machine to reload supplies, the more time he or she could spend on maintaining other components of the system. Assuming a run rate of 25 cases per minute and average board thickness of 5/16”, each two foot magazine extension could buy approximately three additional minutes of time.
In addition, longer magazines allow low level sensors to be set much earlier, which reduces panic situations and supports a smoother running system.
In fact, combining a high-quality case erector with a properly sized magazine and discharge conveyor accumulation design could make a case erector an almost invisible factor when analyzing production line limiters.
LED Status Beacon
Stack lights, ideally with horns are designed to alert operators that a particular machine requires attention – it may have a jam or is running low in supplies. As such, the beacon itself significantly contributes to minimizing equipment downtimes and keeping the system running as smoothly as possible.
Beacons come with two different light sources – incandescent and light emitting diodes (LED). Incandescent lights are susceptible to vibration and have a finite life of typically just over a thousand hours of operation. In comparison, LEDs save a significant amount of energy and last up to 50 times as long, easily justifying the moderately higher upfront cost. Even more importantly, a burned-out light often becomes a low-priority maintenance concern, as it does not stop the machine and the operator or maintenance technician’s time may be monopolized by critical system assets such as processing or packing equipment.
Since a burnt-out light cannot communicate anything, the lack of a properly functioning alert system can put significant strain on operators and reduce the efficiency of the line. As such choosing an LED beacon over incandescent lights significantly contributes to maintaining overall line throughput.
User Centric Design
Pearson adopted User Centric Design (UCD) as an engineering and product development philosophy to make the interaction with our machines as intuitive as possible. Rooted in the principles of Human Centered Design, primarily used in the software industry, UCD enhancements effectively reduce operators’ learning curves, make it easy to interpret data from the machine into actionable information, minimize the margin for human errors and make set-up, changeover and fault recovery a faster and more seamless process resulting in improved up time and equipment availability.
Pearson’s UCD program is an ongoing commitment to improving the interaction between an operator or maintenance technician and our machines, covering the human machine interface (HMI) design and programming, mechanical interfaces such as changeover points and overall accessibility as well as ergonomic factors.
Machines designed with the user in mind allow operators and maintenance technicians with varying levels of experience and expertise to complete their tasks not only successfully but also faster.
A multitude of considerations are necessary when designing an optimally functioning end-of-line system and the concepts discussed in this series of articles only provide a starting point for discussion. Spatial and budgetary restraints often result in trade-offs that invariably impact the overall system performance. Pearson’s team of application engineers and system designers work closely with customers to help determine system goals and requirements as well as to ensure that the overall system design achieves its highest potential within any given constraints.
Call us at 1-800-732-7766 to discuss your project.