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When to Optimize or Purchase New Food Manufacturing Equipment

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By Peggy Fonrose - July 23, 2021

Should you replace manufacturing equipment, or can you optimize your current equipment to improve throughput? If your food manufacturing equipment has line performance problems, it may not be the equipment’s fault. It could be that you don’t have the data to help you understand why your equipment has performance issues. This is especially true if your organization hasn’t embraced production line automation and your data collection is manual. 

Before you go through the expense and process of buying new manufacturing equipment, first find out if you can optimize the performance of the equipment already on your production line.

When No Data or Slow Data Causes Loss

Given the many individual tasks involved in food packaging, there are numerous places for things to go wrong—or at least not go as well as they could—on the production line. Sealing, labeling, and filling is just the start. Poor coordination leads to unplanned downtime in the form of equipment fails, breaks, or underperformance. This then leads to production delays, which means missed deadlines and mounting costs, including labor. Even “minor” stops add up and can contribute majorly to unplanned downtime, and that translates to lost time and costs.

Often, when throughput isn’t reaching thresholds, it is because you have incomplete, incorrect, or just unavailable data about your production line manufacturing equipment. This is especially true when data is collected manually. 

Too many companies fail to realize why their manufacturing equipment performance is lacking or that it is even a problem at all. When you make decisions based on inaccurate data, it just contributes to the issues, compounding losses on the production line. Companies often continue to use obsolete equipment or make the expensive mistake of replacing equipment before they have all the data on how it is performing.

Get the Right Data to Optimize Manufacturing Equipment Performance

Today, IIoT empowers food manufacturers with data to better plan their production schedules, resources, labor, and more. Measuring overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) is crucial to determining the overall efficiency of your equipment. This is a critical metric to identify issues and potential improvements.  

Measuring production line data will give you the OEE of equipment on your production line. You can determine OEE using Smart Factory software. This software gives managers visibility into how each part of the production is performing and keeps track of all downtime, from barely noticeable micro-stops to major slowdowns. And if your production lines aren’t connected, you won’t get accurate data. 

Get Accurate Production Line Data

To get this accurate data and measure OEE and other KPIs, Worximity Technology’s Smart Factory analytics system delivers accurate, real-time performance and production line data collection to managers. Using Smart Factory systems, downtime reasons and OEE are just two of the KPIs you can see on dashboards throughout the factory. Additionally, these easy-to-use tools empower employees to monitor data changes and take necessary corrective action. 

Need help determining OEE? Worximity offers a free OEE calculator template you can download. For starters, it will help supervisors and managers track percentages of:

  • Availability
  • Performance
  • Quality

With accurate data on how your line is performing, you can optimize current equipment and processes to bring on major production gains. Instead of making expensive new equipment purchases, managers can use data to make instrumentation adjustments and improvements that will help optimize existing equipment performance. These efficiencies not only increase production—they also lower costs.

Note: Are your production lines connected? Connecting all of your production lines is the only way to get accurate throughput data

When You DO Need New Manufacturing Equipment

Once you have the proper data to evaluate the performance of your manufacturing equipment, you’ll be able to assess whether equipment has outlived its use or just needs maintenance or recalibration.

If you’ve optimized your manufacturing equipment and it is performing at its best and you’re still missing deadlines and benchmarks, it could be time to invest in new equipment that can perform the way you need it to. But, before you take the plunge, be sure to think of the long-term, big-picture total cost of ownership (TCO).

Consider these factors when replacing manufacturing equipment:

  • Initial purchase and installation: This is a huge part of your investment, but not the only consideration.
  • Ease of use: On the line, a difficult-to-operate machine is going to slow things down.
  • Maintenance frequency: Will the new equipment require more maintenance, and how will that impact your production line?

Start by Becoming a Smart Factory

Before making any decisions about equipment, you should first become a Smart Factory.

Becoming a Smart Factory is the best way to be efficient, safe, and productive. Worximity makes it easy with software that comes with things like smart sensors that connect to your production line for real-time data, directly from your machines. You can easily access data using a real-time dashboard that you can reach anywhere with a tablet, computer, smartphone, or even your smart television. Up-to-date analytics will help you make better, faster decisions and put your factory on the road to an evolution of continuous improvement.

We’ll make your smart start easier. Check out our new Guide to Improving Shop Floor Management with Smart Software. In this guide, you’ll get digital tools to help improve shop floor performance, a total understanding of how to use OEE, and clarification on how shop floor improvements impact profits and earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA).

Guide to Improving Shop Floor Management with Digital Transformation

Worximity provides simple realtime technologies to solve food processor pains such as downtime, rejects, waste, overtime; helping them gain profit velocity by improving throughput, yield and OEE.

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