ProAdjust® is just the kind of technology you would expect from Schneider Packaging Equipment Company, Inc.
When customers have a problem, Schneider engineers get to work to solve them. In this case, ProAdjust was the solution to the age-old irritation associated with changeovers.
“Especially in the packaging industry, frustration for our customers has been in performing quick and reliable changeovers because of the increase in SKUs they have to run on a particular line,” says Pete Squires, Technical Specialist at Schneider.
Schneider not only wanted to address the speed, but the repeatability and reliability of changeovers on their machines.
The simplicity begins with the unit itself. ProAdjust comes with all the necessary hardware, software and power supply, with no programming necessary. What used to take costly engineering can now be dialed in and saved to accommodate any number of SKUs in a product line.
ProAdjust is powered by the same push-button philosophy of other proprietary Schneider innovations like OptiStak. Just one move dials in the necessary adjustments to switch products. The machine dictates part changes and pauses so end users can address them.
With more than 300 varieties of coffee to process, changeover is frequent and consistency is key for Keurig Green Mountain Inc.
“How we use equipment is a big factor,” says Seth Bentley, manufacturing engineer at the company's plant in Knoxville, Tennessee. “If you're going from one count to another daily or even weekly, it really makes sense.”
The largest of six Keurig manufacturing sites, Knoxville alone produces and packages upward of 100 million k-cups each week. Cases range from 24- to 400-count, equating to numerous SKUs.
“It's routine to have a changeover per day,” Bentley says. “It's not abnormal for it to be up to three or four per shift.”
Every one of Knoxville's 32 case packers carries the Schneider name and two are currently equipped with ProAdjust technology. The comparison in performance is remarkable with a typical 30- to 45-minute changeover taking just 10 to 15 minutes with ProAdjust.
“We do our cleans to make sure the machine is ready for the new product and once that's done, they can close up the machine and hit the start changeover button and it does what it needs to do while the operator is off doing paperwork, additional cleaning or getting raw materials for the next run,” Bentley explains. “Within 5 to 10 minutes, the changeover is done, everything is in the right position and the operator only needs to go back and do the manual adjustments.”
Bentley estimates that instead of making 20 adjustments on the typical machine, a ProAdjust model may only require four. This is especially important when you factor in the human element.
“With the typical changeover, a tech comes over with a paper or chart that indicates what point to move to what position and what parts to change,” Squires says. “You do that with 5, 10, 20 points on a machine, it is difficult to changeover accurately every time.
“Typically, there's a ramp-up period of fine-tuning prior to full production on a line. It might start right up and run or it could take a couple hours,” he says. “The goal was to think of everything ... We focused on day-to-day adjustments and all that capability and configuration is built into the system.”
Different operators may use different settings or they could just be working with outdated paperwork, Squires explains. Turnover in personnel adds to the variation and can further diminish accuracy.
The well-tested technology debuted in 2013 and more than 500 axis have already been installed on Schneider case packers, which speaks to its effectiveness.
“Once installed and in production, end users almost always include ProAdjust on their machine specs moving forward,” Squires says. “The repeatability and reliability is something they cannot imagine being without.”