Certainly food and consumer goods manufacturers who master the economics of product variety, must also master their production assets. Best in class production performance dictates a choreographed response to market demand through effective planning, scheduling, inventory management and delivery.
According to Consulting Engineer’s, “Achieving Effective Change-overs Should Start with Eliminating those that are Unnecessary,” half of change-overs in a typical plant could be eliminated by standardizing products and effective production planning. From the article, here are seven steps to improve change-overs:
- Separate internal from external change-over operations: Begin external operations that can be accomplished without stopping the production line before the system shut-down.
- Convert internal to external change-over tasks: Convert as much of the change-over process as possible to external tasks. Keep the production shut-down to a minimum.
- Create standard change-over tasks: Leave no change-over task to chance. Implement step-by-step procedures and assign roles and responsibilities. Then enforce adherence and compliance.
- Eliminate fasteners: Traditional bolts are inefficient and require too much time to loosen, measure and tighten. In addition, this process introduces too much chance for error. Replace fasteners with quick-change, tool-less selections.
- Utilize jigs and fixtures: The use of fixtures, such as a set-in rail will assure consistent, repeatable set-ups.
- Adopt parallel operations: To the extent possible, eliminate all serial operations. Plan to complete change-over tasks simultaneously to eliminate wasted motion and reduce shut-down time.
- Eliminate adjustments: Eliminate adjustments from the production process. Utilize equipment and controls technology with similar product planning to eliminate as much change-over as possible to keep generating units producing on the line.
For more information, download our white paper, “How to Increase Line Efficiencies by Removing Changeover
Changeover is defined as the work and time involved between making the last good product of one recipe and making the next good product from a different recipe at normal production speed. When it comes to a conveyor line, changeover tasks typically involve guide rail changes.
The first premise to understand when designing a multi-SKU manufacturing conveyor line is that in order to reduce or eliminate changeover, the guide rails need to be set for a group of products. Typically, the guide rail opening will be set to the largest product size running on the line, and similar sizes will travel within that guide rail setting without changing the rail setting.
In planning for a reduced or no changeover conveyor line, find the grouping of products that will work for the minimum amount of changeovers. Further, whenever possible, schedule runs with minimal changeover back to back to increase line efficiency.
For more information about eliminating and removing changeover, download our white paper, “How to Increase Conveyor Line Efficiencies by Eliminating Changeover.”
Automatic guide rail adjustment systems are highly controlled, utilizing HMI (Human Machine Interface) technologies. The added process control allows hundreds of feet of guide rail adjustment to the desired width in seconds.
In the photo, an Allen-Bradley PanelView™ Plus 6 human machine interface (HMI) provides a user-friendly interface between the machine and operator monitoring the changeover. The HMI is programmed using FactoryTalk® View ME for three recipe/product size changes. Users can also browse through the stored layout documents, mechanical drawings and reference manuals, easily accessed on the PanelView Plus 6 HMI.
Nercon is part of Rockwell Automation’s elite Machine Builder Program. As a member of the PartnerNetwork program, Nercon continues to demonstrate innovation and market leadership with conveyor and equipment that incorporates Rockwell Automation solutions. Through collaboration with Rockwell Automation, Nercon also helps customers develop an ongoing approach to plant-wide optimization, improve machine performance and achieve sustainability objectives.
For more information on Nercon’s controls capabilities, download our Panel View Plus Application presentation.
Many injuries on the manufacturing floor are muscular and skeletal related and are often caused by awkward standing positions, repetitive motion and lifting. The injuries are accumulative in nature and worsen over time.
Back injuries are among the highest type of injuries for manufacturing line personnel. Foot rests and adjustable elevation work stations help to alleviate back related injuries.
Nercon has engineered several types of hand pack stations for operations that utilize manual labor for the case or carton packing process. The top considerations for designing hand packing stations are user comfort and ergonomic requirements.
Ergonomic features include:
- Manual, Pneumatic or Hydraulic Vertical Height Adjustment
- Adjustable Foot Rests
- Self-Contained Lighting
- Roller Top Tables
Packing stations have been engineered to handle products such as packaged and bagged candy, packaged cookies and crackers, snack pouches and cookie and deli trays.
For more information, visit Nercon’s Knowledge Center on manual pack stations.
Nercon currently offers eight white papers to help food manufacturing professionals gain insight on solving their production objectives.
Mistakes to Avoid When Planning Accumulation in your Conveyor Line:
An education on the proper layouts and product handling criteria when planning for buffering and accumulation equipment in a packaging conveyor line.
How to Choose the Right Accumulation Solution:
A highlight of various accumulating machines with a decision matrix for choosing an accumulator by product and application.
Key Principles in Choosing the Best Conveyor Chain by Application:
Learn about chain properties required in special environments and applications.
Control is a good thing: How to Plan for Line Integration:
Read about controls architectures, levels of controls solutions and their advantages.
Packaging Line Changeover Technology that Cuts Time:
A comprehensive guide to a range of manual and automated guide rail changeover solutions, including a changeover labor assessment by solution.
Leveraging Sanitary Conveyor Construction Levels in Food Plant Operations:
Discover six levels of conveyor construction and how they can be best utilized in for government compliance and cleaning efficiencies.
Best Practices for Energy Efficiency on Packaging Conveyor Lines:
An overview of the minimum actions that manufacturers can take to increase energy efficiency on conveyor lines.
How to Increase Conveyor Line Changeover by Removing Changeover:
A new white paper, this editorial focuses on changeover methods and equipment that do not require changeover.
Visit Nercon’s media center web page for more “Conveyor 101” resources.
Nercon's High Speed Gripper Rinser provides continuous in-line rinsing at speeds up to 1,000 bottles per minute (2"diameter). Having been a part of Nercon's product line for over 30 years, Nercon's Gripper Rinsers can be found in canning and bottling operations handling glass, plastic and fiber containers.
The down-swing model, shown in the photo, was designed for a lower conveyor infeed elevation.
The High Speed Gripper Rinser provides flexible and gentle product handling. The turn of an adjustment wheel will accommodate different sizes of bottles. The container is handled very gently by the soft gripping neoprene grippers mounted to the moving chains. The Gripper Rinser is available in different models and lengths to fit all types of liquid and ionized air rinsing applications.
Visit Nercon’s web page to watch video of various configurations of the Gripper Rinser.
Nercon has engineered and manufactured ambient cooling conveyors, refrigerated cooling conveyors and cooling tunnels for baked goods and health and beauty manufacturers.
For food handling, Nercon has designed cooling belts with fabric or plastic belting, as well as different bed designs. Nercon has provided cooling conveyors up to 84" wide and more than 250 ft. long. To maximize cooling over a shorter distance, Nercon has also manufactured cooling tunnels.
Cooling belt conveyors can be designed to meet USDA, FDA and clean room requirements.
In the photo, a slider-bed design cooling belt was designed for ambient cooling of breakfast bars. This conveyor also features a noser transfer.
Other belt designs include: Belt-on-Roller, M-Trough, V-Guide and Roller Trough. Visit our YouTube page for a video overview of different belt conveyor designs.
As a Machine Builder partner with Rockwell Automation, Nercon controls designers and project engineers have full access to new technologies from Rockwell Automation. One of those technologies, Armor Starts, are being utilized more and more by food and consumer goods manufacturers because of the benefits of diagnostics and maintenance efficiencies.
Armor Starts are locally mounted drive packages. The control panel doesn’t need to be restricted for additional power source controls. Armor Starts also reduce and/or eliminate the need for terminal boxes. Sensors are mounted directly into drives, thereby reducing wire usage.
Rockwell uses the term “On Machine” when referring to distributed architecture hardware. While an On Machine I/O Block or Drive usually has a higher acquisition price, it is offset by savings in wiring, panel space reduction, and wiring error reduction. Distributed architectures also increase the ease of diagnostics.
As a best practice for conveyor controls strategies, look for OnMachine products that can still provide individual point diagnostics with some type of LED indicator. Maintenance professionals like having a light at the I/O point telling them if the sensor or limit switch changes states. If that service person or operator can do so without opening cabinets and donning the required personal protective gear, their lives are much easier, and downtime can be reduced.
For more information on controls strategies, download our white paper, “Control is a good thing: Evaluating Conveyor Controls Technology.”
A walk through Nercon’s shop floor reveals that an increasingly amount of projects have enhancements for conveyor maintenance. Visual inspection ability for wear components on conveyor systems, such as modified frames, components and add-ons, not only reduce safety incidents, but also reduce down-time.
A drive cover can be modified with a cut-out scheme that allows visual inspection of the drive chain. The cut-out holes are designed small enough to remove the danger of pinch points. Drive covers can also be designed with a Lexan covers for complete visibility of the drive system.
Another visual inspection opportunity for conveyor maintenance is for chain stretch. Frames can be modified with a laser cut-out design to show the sag of the chain. When the chain sag reaches the area indicated by a sticker or laser cut-out, it is time for maintenance or replacement. A simple measurement guide is also attached to each conveyor frame that allows maintenance personnel to quickly determine when the chain needs to be replaced
For more information about conveyor maintenance, download our white paper “Top 10 Tips for Preventative Conveyor Maintenance.”
To learn more about chain maintenance and best uses, download our white paper “Key Principles in Evaluating Chain for Packaging Applications.”
One of the more simple merging solutions is to use variable speed drives to set the different speeds of different conveyor chains. In the video, the product drops into each of the metering lanes at the same time. The lanes each have two drives with different speeds that serve to space out or meter the products between the two lanes so that they enter the plow rail one after the other before entering the single file conveyor.
This type of lane merge concept offers a lower, entry-level purchase cost compared to other solutions. It can be used in moderate speed packaging lines and can handle a variety of package shapes such as trays, bags, low-profile cartons, overwrapped products and pouches as shown in the video.
Visit our new Knowledge Center page on Comparing Combining Conveyor and Merging Solutions for more videos and application information.