Josua Schwab, Product Manager at Bosch Packaging Technology, explains in the following interview how a system´s seamless design and clever hygienic features may increase your Overall Equipment Effectiveness.
The Overall Equipment Effectiveness score, in short OEE, is a magic number in the industry. It is an indication how well your system runs and how productive you are. The OEE uses a formula taking availability, performance and quality into account.
Can you explain what a seamless system design is and how it has impact on the OEE?
Basically, the word “seamless” says it all. A packaging system consists of several individual machines, such as distribution, feeding, flow-wrapping and cartoning. In a seamless system design all machines work as if they were one. All interfaces are fully harmonized. There is one common HMI with a standard operating architecture. All machines communicate with one another and can, therefore, regulate the product flow intelligently. A seamless system instantly offers manufacturers significant efficiency improvements in availability and performance – two key factors in the OEE calculation.
How can I achieve a constant product flow?
In this regard, distribution and feeding are vital elements of the total packaging process. Let’s call them the smart logistics of a packaging system.
Products are taken over from the production process and are prepared for distribution to the packaging leg. Our distribution stations work very precise with a constant row performance that is unmatched in the industry. The result are gently handled products, which are perfectly rotated, aligned and indexed. In order to bridge breakdowns or to synchronize the packaging process, products can be held on waiting belts, storage belts or maybe in a gondola buffer.
Control sensors check the quality and size of all products. The ones not matching the quality standard are automatically rejected. The good products continue via a feeder to the flow wrapper at top speed and at the correct cycle rate. The Sigpack FIT feeding module, for example, works with linear motor technology. This makes it very fast and highly flexible. It harmonizes the product flow automatically, preventing potential bottlenecks. In addition, the FIT’s non-contact feeding is ideal for fragile and sticky products, which tend to be damaged quickly. Formats can be changed at the push of a button. With high-speed, gentle distribution and feeding you enhance your overall performance, your product quality and you reduce waste as well as downtime for changeover.
How can downtime for cleaning be shortened?
When your products are sticky or include allergenic ingredients, such as nuts, the level of contamination usually is very high. Cleaning is vital for product safety, but the downtime required for cleaning has a negative impact on the overall performance of your system. Therefore, the lower the accumulation of contaminants and the easier the machines are to clean, the shorter is the overall system downtime. This is possible with a system which is designed to hygiene from the start.
A hygienic design ensures smooth product transport with little friction and a low mechanical load on the product throughout the entire packaging process, resulting in minimal wear to the belts and lengthening the time between cleaning. Rounded side guides reduce breakage, prevent accumulation of residues in the system and minimize product waste. Avoidance of any stationary parts above the process belt protect the products from dust and other residues. In addition, the use of high-quality materials, such as stainless steel and FDA-compliant belt materials improves the overall product quality. Quick and tool-less belt changes, roller removals, as well as the use of belt scrapers, further support hygienic design and reduce downtime for cleaning.
What options are available to manufacturers for fast and efficient cleaning?
Every product – whether it is a chocolate tablet or a sticky muesli bar – has its own particular cleaning requirements. For example, in case of very sticky products, manufacturers may use a belt washing unit for continuous belt cleaning during the process. This reduces downtime, as intense cleaning is required less frequently. With a belt washing unit, production can take place continuously for up to 30 days with two twelve-hour shifts.
If nut bars are being produced, all parts that come into contact with the product, like belts, rollers, scrapers or side guides, have to be changed and cleaned deeply. This is very time-consuming. To resume production quickly without risking cross-contamination, we offer a second format set with a format parts trolley. This allows one set to be cleaned thoroughly while the second set is in production. In a four-leg system, four operators need just two hours to changeover the format parts and to clean the entire system. The dismantling and re-installing of components should be easy and tool-less. In this regard, we now offer the Operations Assistant. This is one of our new digital products. Directly at the machine, via tablet for example, operators are guided step-by-step through the belt change or any other task at hand.
To sum it up: A seamless system with a constant product flow, which is easy to operate and which incorporates a clever hygiene concept, will help you to improve significantly on the key OEE factors – availability, performance and quality.
Seamless Systems: Bosch Bar Systems
Customer Project: Seamless system to process and package granola bars
Digital Shopfloor Solutions: Industry 4.0 overview
Operations Assistant: Brochure
Josua Schwab, Product Manager
Tel.: +41 58 674 7639
LinkedIn: Josua Schwab