The human factor greatly affects how smoothly a packaging line runs. Wasted film, product breakage and unscheduled downtime all wreak havoc on the bottom line. While training before, during and after installation greatly reduces mishaps, equipment engineers are designing machines with automation in mind and a goal of shifting much of the decision making away from the operator to improve productivity and consistency.

”We strive to reduce the amount of decisions an operator needs to make so he can focus on the quality of the finished product,” said Jeff Almond, Heat and Control. “For example, the Ishida weigher’s infeed area can be viewed on the bag maker’s remote control unit. This lets the operator view the dispersion table and radial feeders at floor level.”

Mr. Almond added that operators can use the bag maker’s camera to ensure the film used

matches the parameters for that package. “The camera above gives the operator a snapshot in real time of what is going on up top for quick decisions with no wasted effort.”

According to Mark Lozano, TNA North America, one of the most common challenges an operator encounters is selecting the correct program between the scale and bagger. It’s a problem he said can be easily addressed by using system integration and a single recipe selection system.

“Designing snack packaging and processing systems with integrated controls and monitoring solutions from the outset puts efficiency at the core of operations,” Mr. Lozano stated. “Re-tuning these control systems for specific seasoning and bagging applications, recipes and products enhances that efficiency further. In order to maximize its effectiveness further, plant owners need to ensure all operators are fully trained.”