By guest author, Mario Soccio*
In the 18th century, Benjamin Franklin, a printer by trade and a scientist by fame, said: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” So why aren’t today’s manufacturers applying this logic to their equipment?
When factories experience lengthy downtime, it’s usually because a piece of equipment has failed unexpectedly. And the simple reason for that is because many manufacturers opt for a “fail and fix” strategy over a “predict and prevent” approach.
A comprehensive maintenance program can help manufacturers keep equipment fit, and identify problems before they evolve into something more severe. Factories that don’t carry out scheduled maintenance have an increased risk of downtime — along with all the associated costs.
Can you afford to have part of your production line fail because you missed your scheduled maintenance?
Why is scheduled maintenance so important?
Today, with industry so focused on the bottom line, the cost of downtime has a big impact on profitability. If equipment begins to wear, it’s possible it may start producing labels or marks with an unacceptable quality. Eventually, equipment wear will seriously affect not only your productivity, but also your product quality and your brand’s reputation.
Scheduled maintenance means you identify any issues that may occur with a piece of equipment before a critical failure occurs. It also ensures that vital parts are replaced before they fail, and consumable items, such as rollers and print heads (for labellers), are changed regularly to maintain running reliability.
More reliable equipment means more uptime and more product out your door. It also means there’s no need for the engineer to revisit the site for a breakdown, and you aren’t paying for breakdown visits. (This blog on the difference between preventive maintenance vs breakdown repair shows that the true cost of a machine breakdown has been estimated as between 4 to 15 times the maintenance cost.)
Take the inkjet printer or datecoder
Every inkjet printer needs some type of service after certain running hours or time period.
Scheduled maintenance of an inkjet printer achieves three key objectives:
- Ensuring all aspects of the system are working correctly
- Checking print quality on products
- Making sure the system is safe to use
As a result, scheduled maintenance prevents costly downtime end-of-line coding printers and the production line.
How does scheduled maintenance work?
As the name suggests, scheduled maintenance is scheduled at your convenience so that it doesn’t disrupt your production schedules. Whenever possible, schedule maintenance is co-ordinated with scheduled downtime or when the equipment is not scheduled for use. For example, if the factory runs five lines non-stop for two shifts and just two lines during the late shift, it may make the most sense to schedule maintenance during the late shift, where your technicians could service three out of five lines without disrupting production.
What does scheduled maintenance include?
The full procedure depends on the equipment and will be in the maintenance manual. Broadly, and depending on your printer type, scheduled maintenance for printers may include some or all of these steps:
- General installation: check the print-head, conduit, cables and unit’s overall condition.
- Product sensors and encoders: clean sensors and encoders and check their condition.
- Electronics: examine wiring and connectors for trapping and signs of wear, replace any damaged cables, check for any ink contamination, check valves and calibrate the amplifier.
- Cooling and ventilation: clean and check air filters and fan.
- Filtration: replace damper, ink filter, dip tube.
- Jet: check alignment and do stop/start tests.
- Print quality: check print quality for a set time period, adjust if need be.
- Top cover and base unit: clean unit and adjust service interval, according to your unique manufacturing environment.
Do you know when your coder or labeller needs its next scheduled maintenance? Speak to Matthews for more information and advice. You’ll also find some good information on total productive maintenance here — and don’t get caught out: choose a local provider, with 24-hour support.
About the author:
* Mario Soccio is Matthews’ National Technical Service Manager. He has been responsible for implementing a 97% first-time fix-it rate (which customers love) and a fully digital central service management system, that’s sped up response times, facilitated a well-stocked inventory and improved customer service (which customers also love).