Could Your Quality And Output Be Better?
Of course it could – you can always achieve more with your food production, packaging and labelling. Like the motivational posters say, the road to excellence is less travelled and infinitely long.
But what those clichéd posters don’t tell you is how incredibly frustrating it can be to overcome all the obstacles along the way – how to stop production line snags from hitting your quality and output.
Often the effects are all too apparent. But the underlying causes may not be quite so obvious. You know the ‘what’ but not the ‘why’.
Our engineers see it regularly when they’re called on to help food and beverage producers troubleshoot production issues. The company’s previously unsuccessful attempts to solve their technical problems will usually have centred on suspected glitches in electronic inspection equipment and weighing sensors – instead of addressing the real issue…
- Yes, really, it could be as simple as that. Moisture can create all kinds of problems:
- overweight/underweight products
- rejections due to poor quality
- product labelling, coding and date-stamping issues
- complaints from unhappy retailers because long-term damp trapped in the plastic outer packaging has damaged the cardboard inner packaging (the papier-mâché effect).
And all because the drying solutions on your production line(s) are not up to scratch. It would be helpful if you’d known when to review your air dryers, if you’d had some idea of the warning signs. Well, here they are…
1. Your Dryers Are Making More Noise
So your dryers are cranking out a few more decibels. Okay, it’s annoying but you’re still operating well within Health & Safety Executive regulations. Nothing to worry about in the great scheme of things, right?
Wrong. Increased noise is a sign that your dryers are finding it harder to cope. Especially if you’re still using compressed air to blast away moisture. And that’s a red flag right there – compressed air is a heinously expensive way to dry anything! It’s not the free resource you think it is. Quite the opposite. Compressed air is an outrageous energy-hog: you might as well burn money to create warm air.
Stop using expensive (and potentially oily) compressed air for drying. See how much cheaper air knives are with their clean, blower-driven air. Your finance director, shareholders, production team, customers and the environment will thank you.
2. Your Energy Bills Are Increasing
Yes, everybody’s energy bills are increasing exponentially. They’re skyrocketing. But yours could be rising even faster if your dryers aren’t performing at optimum efficiency.
They could be the wrong kit for your current requirements. Perhaps they’re set up incorrectly. Or maybe you put together a DIY dryer in a rushed attempt to solve a pressing production line problem – and this ‘temporary solution’ has remained in place ever since. This is a common scenario. You may be surprised how often it occurs, but our engineers are not – they see it all the time.
Or maybe your bills are increasing because you’re still using energy-hungry compressed air to dry your products!
Point made – contact us if you’d like to cut your energy bills.
3. You’re Seeing More Rejected Products
You’re extremely serious about product rejections. You watch them like a hawk – even though each individual rejection represents only a tiny fraction of your daily production. Metaphorical alarm bells ring every time the electronic inspectors kick one of your products off the line and into the rejects tote.
And it’s even more serious if the number of these so-called isolated incidents is increasing – especially if you don’t know why. You may have found it tricky to pinpoint the exact cause. The moisture that caused the original issue may be gone by the time you get to inspect the rejected product in the tote.
So you’re left to conclude that a perfectly good product has somehow been flagged as a reject. That leads you to question the accuracy of your electronic inspection sensors – with the assumption that they might be over-zealous.
Or if it’s an over-fill/under-fill issue, maybe you’ve been checking the automatic weighing in the belief that it could be a load cell/strain gauge issue.
All this wastes time (and therefore money) while the real culprit – excess moisture due to ineffective drying – goes undetected.
4. You’re Having To Slow Down Production To Maintain Quality
Cast your mind back to the day you signed on the dotted line to buy your ultra-fast (and ultra-expensive new production line. You were so happy, so proud, so full of expectation. You could recite its maximum line speed as if it were carved in granite.
But has your production line ever actually hit that maximum speed? Probably not. Backing it off a notch reduces the risk of unexpected downtime.
Deep down that probably rankles slightly. So when you have to back it off still further – to ensure quality consistency – it can be very frustrating indeed. Particularly if your output requirements have increased in the meantime.
Something is wrong if you’re having to reduce line speed just to ‘stand still’ in terms of product quality.
It may be that your air knives couldn’t keep pace following improvements to your production line. It’s not uncommon for companies to upgrade their lines but forget about their air dryers.
5. You’re Starting To See Intermittent Faults
In any industry or sphere of technology, there’s nothing worse than an intermittent fault – the stealthiest of gremlins. Diagnosing any intermittent fault is always difficult because they never seem to happen while you’re actively checking for them. Everything runs perfectly until you stop checking. Then the problems start again…
But it may be that your troublesome fault is due to seasonality. Moisture caused by condensation may be more prevalent at certain times of year because the dew point changes due to the weather.
The dew point is the temperature at which air must be cooled to become saturated with water vapour (assuming that the air pressure and water content remain constant). When air is cooled below the dew point, its moisture capacity is reduced – and the airborne water vapour condenses to form dew.
The dew point can be much higher in the summer, making the air feel very humid. Airborne water hits a cold surface – such as a cold-filled beverage bottle – and all that moisture in the warm summer air starts to condense.
So in summer, breweries and other beverage producers are more likely to have issues with:
• label adhesion – especially pressure-sensitive labels, compared with their cold-glue counterparts
• product coding and date stamping
• damage to cardboard used in multipacks.
You can’t change the weather. But you can change your air dryers.
And it doesn’t have to be expensive. We offer a wide range of systems – from the compact and highly cost-effective air knives for craft breweries to the fully enclosed LNL (Low Noise Level) premium air drying system.
6. You’re Starting To See Moisture
Clearly there’s an issue if you start to see moisture on your bottles or cans. You may have missed earlier warning signs, such as those listed above.
The problem has become more severe and you need to act promptly.
Fail to do so and you risk:
- labelling issues on bottles
- transgranular stress corrosion (TGSC) on cans
- damage to cardboard packaging.
Find out more here about air knife systems for packaging and labelling.
Need expert technical advice? Want to speak with someone?
7. Your Customers Are Complaining About Damaged Products
This is the nightmare. Your moisture-damaged products somehow got through all your quality control checks – and it’s your customer that’s alerting you to the problem. And they’re far from happy…
Supermarkets are not renowned for their warm, generous and patient nature when it comes to dealing with suppliers. Some appear to have little regard for the government-backed code of practice because they know they hold the whip hand. Suppliers are terrified of jeopardising their relationship with them.
So you need swift solutions.
Our decades of expertise enable us to create custom-configured solutions which feature standard, off-the-shelf components. So you get proven technology tailored to your precise requirements. It will solve your drying issues quickly, effectively and at a sensible price – all backed up by dependable aftercare.
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With over half a century’s experience in air solutions, we can forecast ROI very accurately and tell you when your new ACI air knife system will start saving you money.
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