The Perfect Packaging for Every Product

Whether you talk of fresh food items, dry groceries, machine parts, furniture or hardware, every product needs to be well packaged. The type of packaging best suited to a product depends on a number of factors including cost of the product, perceived value, size, fragility, shelf life etc. Thus, there are a number of materials that can be used to package a product such as paper, polythene, corrugated cardboard, cartons, shrink wrap and pallets.

Why do you need Packaging?

The most obvious reason to package a product carefully, is to protect it while it moves from the factory floor to the retail shops and then to the customer’s house. However, this is not the only reason to focus on packaging. Packaging plays an important role in a customer’s decision making process. The way a product is packaged is the first interaction many customers have with the product and hence this plays an important role in creating a first impression. A well packaged product speaks of attention to detail and helps build trust in a brand name.

Packaging is also important from a marketing perspective. This is because whilst the product itself may offer limited space for branding, a carton or sleeve allows a much larger space for branding thus making the brand name more visible. When it comes to wholesale packaging, cartons are usually left plain. However, it is still possible to brand the cartons by using printed carton tape.

How to Choose the Right Packaging Material

The wrong packaging can put a customer off the product. The first step to packing a product is to select the right material. There are many factors that must be considered when picking packaging materials. These include:

Type of Product- While dry groceries need to be packed in such a way so as to be visible to customers and yet protected against natural elements; product visibility does not matter when packing hardware items or machine parts. A few other product characteristics to keep in mind are sensitivity to light and moisture, shelf life and reaction to other materials.

Cost of the Product- The cost of packaging a product should be in direct relation to the cost of the product and should not exceed it. Thus, whilst clear, polythene bags are sufficient packing for disposable plates, bone chine needs to be packed in boxes with cushion packaging.

How the products are to be shipped- To a certain extent wholesale packaging also plays a role in determining the right material for retail packaging. For example, if the products are going to be packed in a larger carton, puncture resistance is not a high priority. However, if the products are going to be stacked on a pallet, this is a factor that will need to be considered.

Common Types of Packaging

Paper Board

Paper is the cheapest and most ecofriendly way to package a product. Paper is often used in the form of boxes to package low cost items such as stationery or in the form of paper bags for fast food and other consumables.

Polythene

Polythene bags are the most preferred form of packaging for products such as dry groceries and liquids. This is because it is transparent thus allowing the consumer to see the product being purchased and protects the food items from natural elements.

Rigid Plastic

Rigid plastic may be used to package both consumables and non-consumables. This is a chosen packaging material when the product needs to be visible to the consumer and yet protected against shocks and being accidentally dropped etc.

Corrugated cardboard

When it comes to large products such as furniture, it is not possible to fit the piece into a carton. Hence, such products are usually wrapped in corrugate sheets to protect them against bumping into other things or being dropped accidentally.

3 Keys to a Successful Preventive Maintenance Program

Preventive maintenance planning and practices influence most major maintenance department activities in a manufacturing environment. Here are some examples of this.

Equipment downtime is largely affected by preventive maintenance or the lack there of.
Repair work orders are subjected to the influences of the preventive maintenance program.
Purchasing and inventory are affected by preventive maintenance for routine replacement of expendable spares as well as repair parts required for unexpected downtime.

As evidenced by the points above, preventive maintenance should be “first base” for any maintenance department. Unfortunately sometimes routine preventive maintenance activities often do not get the attention or credit they are due. This is a mistake. So what are the keys to a successful preventive maintenance program?

1. Careful Planning of the Preventive Maintenance Program

Planning a preventive maintenance program involves the following:

Determine tasks and intervals needed to maintain the equipment.
Ensure that the appropriate resources are in place.
Schedule maintenance personnel for maximum preventive maintenance wrench time.
Understand how scheduled equipment downtime and maintenance personnel scheduling interface.
Manage spares effectively.
Select a scheduling and accountability system (preventive maintenance software, CMMS software or equivalent)

Determine Maintenance Tasks and Intervals

A good preventive maintenance (PM) task list contains the following components:

The equipment item.
The task(s).
The person the task is assigned to.
A task interval.
A start date and due date.
Optional: Detailed instructions and pictures if needed.
Optional: Task completion sequence.

Begin with your equipment list. Next gather appropriate tasks for preventive maintenance task lists from OEM manuals or online manuals when possible. This is a good place to start, especially with newer equipment. In some cases, the equipment warranty is dependent upon following the OEM recommendations. Another source of tasks is the maintenance manager’s experience and intuition. Yet another source is branch locations running similar equipment.

When developing a task list, consider the reusability of the task descriptions. Reusability refers to using the same task description on potentially multiple equipment items. The benefit is that there are fewer tasks, no duplicate task descriptions and better reporting and analysis of PMs. Consider these examples:

REUSABLE task description: Lubricate Roller Chain(s)

NOT REUSABLE: Lubricate Roller Chain(s) on Conveyor #1

In the first example this task, Lubricate Roller Chain(s), is appropriate for any equipment with a roller chain. In the second example, Lubricate Roller Chain on Conveyor #1, is only appropriate on the Conveyor #1 PM task list. Imagine how cumbersome your preventive maintenance software management efforts become if you are not using reusable tasks. Another example that may cause problems later is naming conventions such as 30 Day PMs or Weekly Tasks. This creates unneeded redundancy, as the interval (30 in this case) is included in the PM record already. Additionally there is no task description here that refers to the actual work performed.

How do you create reusable tasks? Begin with the most generic tasks you can think of and create these first. Examples could be Inspect, Clean, Lubricate, etc. After these task descriptions have been created, go to the next step and create tasks that are somewhat more specific. Here are some examples: Check Wiring, Replace Lubricant, Lube Chains. Continue with increasingly more specific tasks always trying to avoid including the equipment or equipment component in the task description. Eventually, for specialized tasks that are only performed on specific equipment, it may become necessary to include a component of the equipment in the task description. Keep the task description short and focused on the actual task. Obviously if the task description is short, it may not fully describe the job. This is where detailed instructions and pictures are used.

Next, determine what interval units are needed for your PM system. Calendar-based PMs usually will use a day interval. For example every 7 days Lubricate Roller Chain(s). Other tasks may be demand based or based upon the actual runtime of the equipment. In some cases, hours or minutes may be appropriate. As you gain experience with this set of PM tasks and intervals changes to the tasks and intervals may be warranted. Consequently choose a system that makes editing existing PMs simple and without historical data loss.

Ensure that Adequate Resources are in Place

Listed below are resources you need for a successful preventive maintenance program:

Trained and available personnel.
Adequate spares, expendables, lubricants, drive chain, bearings, etc.
Time in the production or equipment runtime schedule to perform PMs.
A motivated team of maintenance professionals.

Personnel must be trained and capable of safely performing the required work. Vigorously enforce proper lockout/tagout procedures. Stock on hand for expendables and other spares used for PMs has to be adequate. Inadequate spares not only prevents completion of the PMs, but also hurts motivation when personnel attempting to perform their job are hindered by a lack of spares. As such, the purchasing department has to have an ordering system that stays ahead of preventive maintenance spares requirements. Additionally an accountability system (CMMS) helps track spares use for restocking purposes. In summary, show your maintenance technicians how important you believe preventive maintenance is by providing the materials and training needed for these important tasks.

Time is a resource. Time must be available so that personnel can perform their work. This may require scheduling changes so that maintenance personnel are available during scheduled equipment downtime. Given the right resources, your maintenance team cannot help but be motivated to succeed with equipment maintenance.

Use a Maintenance Software Solution to Track and Manage Maintenance

Now that the tasks, intervals, personnel, training and scheduling are established it is time to load the data into a preventive maintenance software system. With so many CMMS choices, it is important to do your research carefully. Approximately fifty CMMS companies go out of business annually and fifty more replace these. Choose a well-established long-term CMMS company that has a proven record of accomplishment. Ask the following questions when choosing a CMMS:

How long has the CMMS company been in business?
How flexible is the preventive maintenance system?
Are there different task list formats available?
Is it possible to automate task list issuance?
Do technicians have the ability to close their own PMs while maintaining the integrity of the data?
Is it possible to close PMs without leaving the plant floor?
How easy (or hard) is it to adjust preventive maintenance task schedules?
Are labor and parts costs easily summarized and reported?
Is there an objective way to know how to optimize task lists or task intervals based upon downtime or reliability data?

When evaluating a CMMS it is best to run a demonstration copy of the proposed system with your own sample equipment and tasks. Use the system for at least 30 days. Issue preventive maintenance task lists to your personnel. Get their buy-in by demonstrating the usefulness of the system. Prove to yourself and your maintenance technicians that using the software makes both of your jobs easier. Most importantly confirm that this system has the potential to improve equipment availability and reliability.

Consider support and training as part of the initial investment. CMMS software training is well worth the investment as it brings the maintenance department up to speed quickly with the CMMS and instills confidence in its use. This leads to better compliance in entering and updating data.

Price is important, however the real cost benefit of CMMS comes not from the initial investment in CMMS but in the ongoing use and benefits derived from that use. Some CMMS software solutions are subscription-based. Others are a one-time investment with a perpetual license. While there are several factors to consider in CMMS selection, initial investment (price) should be a low priority when the budget allows. Ask yourself this question: “Do you want to trust millions of dollars in equipment assets to a cheap CMMS?”

2. Implement Your New Preventive Maintenance Program

Now it is time to start reaping the benefits of your new preventive maintenance program. Here are a few questions to consider when implementing your new PM program:

Should tasks lists be printed, emailed or simply viewed through a tablet or smart-phone?
How are tasks closed and what data should be included?
Who should close the preventive maintenance tasks as they are completed?
What will you use the system when maintenance personnel are absent?
Should spare parts lists be included on the task list?
If spares are included on the task list, should stock levels automatically draw down when the PM is completed?

The answers to these question come down to company policy, industry requirements, regulations and personal preference.

3. Assess and Adjust Your Equipment Maintenance Program

Constantly assessing your preventive maintenance program is an integral part of managing this system effectively. Equipment runtime schedules change, equipment demand changes, personnel change, maintenance technologies and procedures change. Your primary assessment tool is equipment maintenance data. The longer you use your CMMS system the more data it accumulates. Assuming that you chose a CMMS that provides extensive analysis and reporting, this data is now a valuable decision-making store. Use this data for OEE (overall equipment effectiveness) and reliability analysis. Choose a CMMS that uses MTBF (mean time between failures) to suggest preventive maintenance task intervals. Using real runtime data to set PM task intervals eliminates guesswork.

Being a proactive maintenance manager you should be adjusting to these changes as needed. Here are some things to look out for and some ideas on how to react. Keep in mind that sometimes there is no substitute for an experienced maintenance manager’s intuition.

Equipment Runtime Schedule Changes

In some situations, preventive maintenance can only be performed while equipment is in a scheduled shut down period. This creates a problem for maintenance scheduling. Here are some ways to manage this situation.

Non-maintenance machine operators can complete some simple maintenance procedures such as minor lubrication tasks.
Double-team certain equipment when it is down.
Adjust maintenance schedules.
Use automated maintenance devices, such as lubricators.
Implement preventive maintenance procedures during unscheduled downtime.

Equipment Demand Changes

Equipment demand relates to more than just runtime schedule changes. Demand reflects the actual time equipment is running and how much work it performs during the scheduled period. Obviously triggering PMs based upon calendar days would not be appropriate in these cases. It is best to trigger PMs in this case based upon runtime hours, cycles, cuts or whatever the appropriate meter unit is for that equipment. Consequently this equipment should have a counting device or be connected to the system that automatically triggers preventive maintenance work orders through an OPC compliant data connection.

Select a CMMS software solution that reads OPC data directly from the equipment then automatically responds with a preventive maintenance work order at exactly the right moment.

Personnel Changes

The best way to overcome this inevitable change is to have detailed listings of preventive maintenance tasks, intervals, spares requirements and history. Make sure this information is available to pass on to the new person. The more organized your system is the easier is to move seamlessly through this change. Once again, a good preventive maintenance software solution addresses this need.

Additionally, ongoing training and cross training in various maintenance processes can offset personnel change issues.

Changes in Maintenance Technologies and Procedures

An example of this type of change could be a new sensor that provides critical maintenance data to an OPC server. This data in turn indicates the correct PM interval. Another example could simply be running the equipment only when needed. This action saves energy resources and may reduce wear and tear on the equipment.

Software is constantly improving. Desired options with preventive maintenance software solutions are as follows:

Is there a role-based permission capability that allows the maintenance technicians to close their own PMs?
Is there a mechanism to validate PMs closed by technicians?
Does the ability to temporarily assign tasks to an alternate maintenance technician exist?
Is it possible to gather runtime data through an OPC compliant data network and issue work orders automatically.

Summary

Preventive maintenance is the one of the primary responsibilities of the maintenance manager in a manufacturing environment. Many maintenance department activities are affected by, and rely on a successful preventive maintenance program. More importantly, success of the manufacturing facility as a whole is directly proportional to the quality of the design, implementation and management of the preventive maintenance system.

Top Tips to Choose the Best Connectors

From smart phones to sophisticated machineries that manufacture them, you can find an electrical connector in many forms. If you are an electrical industrialist or purchase engineer, it is essential to have some key factors in mind before making your final choice.

Here are a few essential aspects to check while choosing a connector:

Power

Power of the connector is a determining factor. The market offers a wide range of connectors with different power-ratings. Identify your requirement and choose the one that meets the purpose.

A low power variant may not give you the expected efficiency and on the other hand, a high power connector can even damage the entire system.

Density

The density of a connector is yet another influential factor in the present day. The higher the connector density, the more compact your machine design will be. This is especially important in case of complex machineries. In order to keep it solid at the same time give exceptional performances, it is essential to choose a high-density connector.

Temperature Resistance

Another important feature that adds to the quality of a connector is its capacity to withstand high temperatures. Most of these connectors are used in intricate machineries and they undergo immense heat exposure during their functioning. High-end connectors are often passed through multiple levels of testing to ensure its temperature resistance.

Speed

The transmission speeds of connectors are quite significant for their overall performance. Many of the latest connectors ensure to meet high transmission speeds. ExaMAX High Speed Backplane Connectors are one of the best you can get in the market these days.

Mating Features

The mating features of any connector play an important role in determining its performance, quality and durability. Before you choose your connector, ensure that you scout through specifications to analyze its mating features. The angle of mating, the number of mating cycles, etc. will be clearly mentioned in the specifications, which help to find the one matching your requirements. Mating cycles are especially important for connectors that are mated and unmated frequently. For a USB connector the mating cycles will be in thousands where as for a board to board connector will have a lesser mating cycle.

The easiest way to decide on a connector is often to choose the best brands. The connectors manufactured by prominent brands will have all major certifications, which makes it trustworthy. In that case, you will not have to compromise in terms of quality and safety.

3 Basic Types of Electrical Connectors

Any electrical equipment will have different types of electrical connectors within. Each connector comes in different shapes, sizes, and materials. Function is another key factor that classifies the connectors.

From connecting a wire to a board to joining key elements on a PCB, connectors play diverse roles and serve many applications. Despite their simple design, they connect and bring power/signals to the system. Key factors that determine the quality of a good connector is its reliability, signal integrity, speed performance, power rating durability, and ease of assembly.

Connector manufacturers offer an extensive array of tried and tested product solutions.

There a few common connectors which are worth the mention:

8P8C Connector

8P8C connector, where 8P8C stands for “eight positions, eight conductors” have eight positions, with corresponding conductors in the mating socket assigned to each. It is basically a modular connector and was primarily used in telephone wire applications. Today, they serve many applications and functions like being used to interface Ethernet jacks.

The 8P8C connectors have a male plug and a corresponding female socket connection. It carries eight contacts and when they get aligned with the corresponding eight conductors within the sockets, electrical signals get transmitted. Apart from Ethernet and telephone wires, they are also used in computer applications and other communication cables.

Generally, most modular connectors are technically named after the number of positions and conductors. They include sizes like -4-,-6-, 8-, and -10-. For instance, a 10P8C will have ten positions with eight conductors.

D-Subminiature Connectors

D-subminiature is much similar to 8P8C, as they are used in computer and play a critical function on modems. Though the name states “subminiature”, these are larger than most modern computer connectors. The connector has a D-shaped metal component that defines its shape and protects it. It also consists of two or more rows of pins with varying numbers in the male connector and a similar set of receiving ends in the female part. The male connector with a pin is called a plug whereas the receiving part that houses the contacts that connect these pins is called a socket. This connection is established to transmit electrical signals. This variant has the capability to provide protection against electromagnetic interference, commonly known as EMI.

USB Connectors

USB or Universal Serial Bus is a very common type of connector. They are small interfaces used to attach multiple devices to a computer. You can see at least two USB ports in any standard laptop that support external USB connectors and cables, while desktops have up to 4 USB ports in general. USB connectors gained much popularity and recognition, as it can be connected and disconnected easily while the device is still working. This contributed to its widespread use in computer applications that constantly require plugging and unplugging external devices, especially for transferring data.

Industrial Processes And Emerging Technologies

Technology has been playing an incredible role in transforming the way industrial processes are performed. Whether it is a machine-to-machine communication or augmented reality, technology has been helping industries in every possible way to streamline and automate their work. Emerging technologies, like 3D printing, robots, algorithms, etc., have the power to completely transform the existing manufacturing processes. Or, in other words, modern technology has the potential to make our lives better. A rapid increase in the level of sophistication in technology has a strong impact on the workforce.

Robotics

Robots are being increasingly used to perform all sorts of industrial tasks. The developed parts of the world have witnessed a sharp rise in the demand for automated machines and equipment. Approximately, there are more than 2 million robots in use and the number is expected to rise quickly in coming years. Japan is leading the list of countries with the most number of robots. Recent years have witnessed a major decrease in the costs of automation and robotics.

Additive manufacturing

Additive manufacturing or 3D printing is an emerging technology that enables industries to manufacture three-dimensional objects. It is a process of building complex products by adding ultrathin layers of materials one by one. Currently, only selected items are being created out of a single material, for instance, medical implants and plastic prototypes. Comparing 3D industrial technology with that of traditional, additive manufacturing enables industries to manufacture new shapes without worrying about manufacturing limitations.

Autonomous technology

Autonomous technology, such as unmanned cars, is stretching the possibility of producing highly sophisticated industrial machines capable of performing the unthinkable. It has a great potential in making industrial processes seamlessly smooth with hardly any human intervention. Autonomous robots have already been deployed by a number of industries worldwide to perform quality control and inspection related tasks.

Augmented reality

Augmented reality is about the augmentation of the elements of physical world. By using handheld sensors, people can simulate various situations or, in other words, augmented reality enables us to create an illusion of reality. This technology can help engineers build incredible industrial solutions. One of the practical applications of this technology is the training of military recruits where they are tested with various virtual situations.

Conclusively speaking, new technologies are enabling engineers to develop intelligent machines that can perform multiple industrial tasks with great precision and speed. Companies need to invest in automation technology in order to maintain competitiveness and meet growing demand for innovation and modernity.

Purpose of Tensile Testing and Its Use in the Plastic Industry

One of the most elementary tests that can be performed on a product is the tensile test to check the breaking resistance of a product. A test specimen is kept under tension to practice opposing forces acting upon opposite faces both located on the same axis that attempt to pull the specimen apart. These tests are simple to set and complete and reveal many characteristics of the products that are tested. These tests are measured to be fundamentally the reverse of a compression test.

Purpose of this test

Usually, this test is designed to run until the specimen breaks or fails under the specific load. The values that are calculated from this type of test can vary but are not limited to tensile strength, elongation, ultimate strength, modulus of electricity, yield strength, and strain hardening. The measurements taken during the test reveal the characteristics of a material while it is under a tensile load.

Tensile Testing for Plastics

Composites and Plastic are polymers with substances added to improve the performance or reduce costs. Plastic may be pressed or cast or extruded into sheet, film, or fibre reinforced plate, glass, tubes, fibre, bottles and boxes. Thermohardening or thermosetting plastics can be brittle or hard and temperature resistant. Thermosets include polyester resins, epoxy resins, polyurethane, phenolic resins, non-meltable, non-deformable and polyurethane. Polymers and plastics can be tested to measure product quality. The tests measure the weight required to split or break a plastic test material and sample elongation or stretch to that breaking load. The resulting data help to identify product quality and quality control checks for materials.

Plastic testing instruments, universal test machines provide a constant rate of extension because plastic tensile test behaviour is dependent on the speed of the test machine. The specimens loaded on the machines are set as per ASTM, DIN, ISO tensile test specimen dimensions. The Plastic tester machine should always rely on standard terms and conditions. As per ASTM D638, Plastic tensile test standards help to measure strain below 20 percent extension values. High strain can be measured by the machine, digital reader. Thin sheet sample testing is done as per the standard ASTM D882.

A high-quality testing machine is designed to measure the strength of a specific product, test method and product type. A good instrument can be the only solution required for your quality assurance and a worse choice can make you go in the loss too. So choose the instrument smartly.