I recently completed the IOPP Packaging Machinery Basics course at Frain Industries in Chicago, a “survey course” that introduced attendees to a wide range of types of packaging machinery. The course is designed for engineers who work on the design side of packaging, as many packaging professionals have minimal experience working with packaging machinery. This is in large part due to machinery is marginally covered or not taught in many packaging engineer degree programs.
Three Course Highlights/Takeaways
Now that I’m a course graduate, I can see three course highlights/takeaways that will be valuable assets as I go about designing packaging solutions for Chainalytics’ clients:
1. Videos & Hands-On & On-Site Frain Experience Made for a “Learning Lab”
The course instructor (CEO at Changeover Wizard, John Henry) has vast experience with packaging machinery in many manufacturing plants across North America. His client engagements, has enabled him to collect videos of different packaging machinery and packaging lines. He has integrated many of these videos into his presentation, which helps support the educational content.An addition to the videos, the class was able to go out in the warehouse at Frain Industries (a used packaging machinery vendor), providing a chance to see the vast amount of inventory and packaging machinery running first hand at Frain Industries. John Henry was able to walk us through the warehouse and show examples of machinery covered in the lecture; we also viewed Frain Industries employees working on a variety of up-and-running packaging machinery for their customers. This approach enabled the class to almost immediately apply their in-class learning to live operating packaging machinery.
2. It’s Important to Develop a Keen Understanding of How Packaging Design Changes Can Impact Line Production.
One of the biggest takeaways from the course was understanding how a seemingly simple or minor package design change can affect a manufacturing line. John Henry provided many examples of how poorly planned package design changes at several companies impacted manufacturing line
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productivity—like changeover downtime, damage issues, production speed, etc. which can all have a big impact on packaging and supply chain costs. We learned that it is essential for packaging engineers to meet with stakeholders on the manufacturing line to make sure the package design change can run efficiently on the line. Iterative changes and adjustments to any packaging change implementation at the beginning of a project can save a lot of money literally down the line and prevent major problems in the future. We also learned how important it is for designers and equipment operators to communicate at all stages of a project effectively.
3. The Importance of Determining Requirements When Designing a New Packaging Line
Just as communication between operations and package designers is crucial when implementing package design changes, communication when designing a new packaging line is as important.
The success of the new line depends on gathering as much detailed information across departments as possible before line design begins (for example, line capacity, production speed requirements, product info, the final package’s complete bill of materials (BOM) (get samples), etc. It is also vital to make this information gathering a continuous process, since more information will become available throughout the project.
Lastly, it is extremely important that there is at bare minimum a verbal agreement, or better a written and signed packaging success criteria document, that contains the information gathered to help ensure all stakeholders are on board. This formal step will prevent any potential disagreements, if something fails on the line, since all parties are accountable.
I recommend in completing IOPP’s Packaging Machinery Basics course if you want to learn more about packaging machinery at a high level. I definitely look at machinery differently now, and with more curiosity. The class is relatively small (15-20 people) and is taught twice a year. Please visit iopp.org for more information on this course and what it has to offer.
packaging consultant at Chainalytics, where he supports senior engineers with
value engineering and damage reduction projects from project launch through