Uncertainty in global trading conditions and intense competition mean that now, more than ever, food manufacturers need to maximise process efficiency and scrutinise production costs. It pays to consider proven methods for running your lines at maximum efficiency and one extensively used model is Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE).
In this article we use the OEE model to identify specific productivity challenges and discuss how new innovations in product inspection are already giving manufacturers a competitive edge.
OEE calculations start when production enters a scheduled operation window but productivity starts by extending that window. Before looking at specific ways to improve Availability, Performance and Quality you need to first focus on increasing total production capacity.
The 6 key challenges discussed in this article are:
1. Increasing available production time
2. Reducing unplanned downtime (Availability)
3. Ensuring production runs at optimised speeds (Performance)
4. Preventing minor stops (Performance)
5. Reducing product waste by detecting problems sooner (Quality)
6. Reducing false rejects (Quality)
Although planned downtime is not specifically part of the OEE calculation it can have a big impact on overall productivity. Tasks such as equipment washdown, maintenance programmes, line changeovers and validation checks all keep production at a standstill.
Next generation inspection technology aims to address these challenges in a variety of ways. For example, the improved hygienic design of the new X37 X-ray System has been achieved through technical innovation and advanced manufacturing techniques. By developing x-ray technology that can deliver peak performance at 20W rather than the standard 100W there's no longer a need for active cooling. As well as reducing maintenance needs, this also means that air ventilation is unnecessary, which makes cleaning quicker and easier.
Equipment Servicing is another big contributor to downtime. Having the most stable and reliable inspection equipment is essential but having built in health-check software means that maintenance can take place at more efficient intervals.
The Condition Monitoring software included with the new Profile Advantage metal detector is one example of how intelligent design can give you peace of mind and save time. The software monitors changes in detector parameters and provides advanced warnings if adverse trends are identified, but before a line stopping event occurs. The early warning means that essential maintenance can be planned when the detector is offline rather than stopping the production process.
Another important contributor to planned downtime is product changeover. Although this element presents a variety of challenges, from an inspection angle one key issue is product recognition. Profile Advantage metal detectors perform intuitive clustering, which lets you change products seamlessly without the need to adjust machine settings and, most importantly, without sacrificing detection performance.
The right product inspection equipment can increase overall production time in many other ways and the cumulative impact of these incremental gains will be sizeable gains in your production and profits.
Breakdowns can cause big problems. A production line is only as good as its weakest link, which is why having the most robust and reliable equipment is so important. Equally important is having the right service and preventative maintenance plans in place to ensure that equipment runs at maximum availability.
Advanced warning systems, such as Condition Monitoring, allow you to plan maintenance for when equipment will be offline. However, other features reduce downtime and waste by warning of serious faults further up the line.
Successive Error Detection alerts the operator or even triggers a conveyor shutdown if too many products are not acceptable. By programming a threshold of between 2 and 99 consecutive faulty products, the new C3000 Checkweigher from METTLER TOLEDO allows you to take control of problems before they become much more serious and costly.
One big challenge for product inspection is that inline checkweighers use mechanical load cells. Product spacing becomes very important because the cells must be able to zero between weighments and only one item can be weighed at a time. Often the result is a compromise between speed and accuracy when ideally you would have the best of both.
The new C3000 Checkweigher has seen a complete mechanical redesign allowing it to perform highly accurate weighing up to 33% faster than previously possible. The huge leap in performance means that the C3000 can easily match the throughput of most high-speed lines.
Product inspection equipment does far more than just tell you if something is good or bad. For example, line stoppage due to filler adjustment can be avoided by integrating a C3000 checkweigher with automated fill level controls. A feedback loop from the Checkweigher to the filler can automatically check and adjust fill levels, saving you time and ensuring that you meet fill regulations without wasting money through costly product giveaway.
The placement of inspection equipment is vital for detecting problems as early as possible in the production process and before significant value has been added to your product. A HACCP audit will identify the necessary critical control points (CCP's) and installing inspection equipment at these points will mitigate the risk of contaminated product reaching consumers. By identifying non-compliant product early you can minimise waste by taking corrective actions sooner.
For example, broken metal sieve wires or blade fragments can be very hard to detect, particularly in challenging applications. By not addressing a new problem immediately, you risk much higher waste as the contaminants break up into smaller and harder to detect particles, at which point you might have no choice but to scrap all previous product. The unparalleled sensitivity of next generation product inspection technology will give you the confidence to avoid such costly waste.
However, product inspection is about far more than finding contaminants. While checking for glass, metal, mineral stone, high density plastics, bone or rubber, the X37 Series from METTLER TOLEDO Safeline X-ray can simultaneously run product integrity checks such as monitoring fill levels, checking seal integrity, detecting missing caps and even identifying damaged product or packaging.
Having the ability to monitor and detect such a wide range of contamination and integrity issues early in the process gives you a far greater level of control over the problems that will almost certainly occur during production.
Product inspection equipment directly affects false reject levels possibly more than any other element in the OEE calculation. Next generation technology has taken a very serious look at addressing the causes of the problem and none more so than Profile Advantage.
The moisture content in foods can cause what is known as a 'product effect', a signal that can be interpreted as contamination by the metal detector. The typical result is poor detection sensitivity or unacceptable levels of false rejects.
Although a common problem for most industry standard metal detectors, Multi-Simultaneous Frequency (MSF) metal detectors, such as Profile Advantage, are 50% more sensitive. The huge leap in performance means that moisture content is no longer an issue, therefore, false rejects levels are improved along with Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE).
Skimming the Surface of What's Possible
The advantages of selecting the right product inspection equipment and the impact those decisions will have on your productivity and OEE are far more than one article can cover. For that reason we have provided links to white papers and other useful resources throughout this page. If you would prefer to speak with a local product inspection specialist and discuss your specific requirements then please feel free to contact us.
Fast Track OEE - for Production People on the Move - oee.com
OEE Caluculation - oee.com
Overall Equipment Effectiveness - Wikipedia
Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) - Wikipedia
Understanding Challenging Applications - White Paper
White Paper - Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) - White Paper
Free Guides to Product Inspection - mt.com