Last month, we looked at getting a new project started, from initial inquiry to placing the equipment order. Click here to read it if you missed our last email. This post will cover the following steps, reviewing best practices for the time period from order to equipment startup. Technik takes care of almost everything for you, but there are a few areas where your help will keep everything going smoothly until your new line is up and running.
1. Understand your Timeline
You’ll have an approximate lead time for your equipment in your proposal, and this will turn into a schedule once your order is confirmed and down payment is received. Make sure you and your team understand the steps in the timeline and when they’re expected to occur. You’ll be given an estimated date for an acceptance test at the factory, which will be turned into a firm schedule for the FAT about a month in advance. The rest of your timeline will be based on the FAT schedule, and we’ll cover specific milestones below.
2. Involve your Accounting Department
If your company has paperwork for vendors that wasn’t provided to Technik prior to the order, have your accounting department send it to us as soon as possible to avoid any delays in the project. Technik will also review the terms of the order with your accounting team to make sure invoices are processed correctly.
3. Plan for Testing Samples
We will need product samples to test the machine prior to and during the factory acceptance test. We’ll also need samples of any ancillary components being inserted in your packages, like leaflets or desiccant packs. In general, these will need to be delivered to the factory around two months prior to the scheduled FAT date, but this can vary by project, and Technik will advise you at the start of the project when samples are needed, and in what quantity. Plan to have these shipped about two weeks prior to the date they’re needed. If you’ve put Technik in touch with your materials supplier, we can coordinate shipment of materials samples directly with them; otherwise, we’ll ask you to ship the requested amount of materials samples along with the product.
4. Advise Technik of Any Changes
Sometimes the requirements of a project can change after an order is placed. In some cases these changes are simple, like adding a new format size. Other changes could add significant time and/or cost to the project and may need to be reviewed for engineering feasibility before approval. In either case, contact Technik as soon as you learn of a desired change. The sooner we learn of a possible change, the less of an impact it’s likely to have on cost and lead time.
5. Prepare for the FAT
Technik will have advised you of the length of the planned FAT at order time, and will confirm the dates about a month in advance. If at all possible, please plan to have members of your staff present at the FAT; there is no cost to this other than your actual travel costs. Generally you will book your own air travel and Technik will book you a hotel at a preferred rate near the factory, and handle ground transportation. In addition to the testing, we will provide training to your staff on the design, maintenance, and operation of your equipment. If you have specific requirements for the FAT that were not spelled out in the original order, please advise Technik as soon as possible.
6. Determine Spares Requirements
In most cases, Technik will provide a list of recommended spare parts and wear items with the order. Some companies will have more extensive requirements to minimize the possibility of downtime. If a spare parts set was not ordered with the machine, the FAT is a good time for your engineers to work out with Technik what spares will be needed to meet your company’s requirements, and place an order so they can be shipped with the machine.
7. Arrange Shipping
After a successful FAT, it generally takes about a week to prepare and crate the machine for shipping. Technik can handle as much or as little of this process as desired; some companies hire their own packing firms to crate the machine at the factory and have it picked up, and others prefer Technik to handle all aspects of the packing and shipping process. Either way, please advise Technik by the end of the FAT who will be handling crating and shipping, and whether the machine needs to be shipped by air freight.
8. Install the Machine
Once the crate is delivered at your facility, your employees or locally hired riggers will uncrate and spot the machine, and connect electrical and air supplies. It generally doesn’t make sense for Technik employees to travel to perform this work when it can be handled by in-house personnel or locally available crews. Once this work is done, a startup service can be scheduled with Technik personnel coming to your facility to set up and test the equipment onsite, and to train your operators, maintenance personnel, and engineers. The number of technicians and amount of time needed will be determined by the project complexity and number of employees to be trained, and Technik will provide a recommendation for this service.
9. Run your Line!
At the end of the startup service, your employees will be well-trained and your machine will be fully tested and ready to go into operation. You can start collecting the benefits of higher output, less waste, lower operating costs, and perhaps new packaging options for your customers.
These steps only happen once you’ve started your packaging automation project, so check back to our last blog post to review the initial steps. When you’re ready to grow your business and your profits, contact Technik and we’ll help you get started.