Addressing Downtime

As companies adapt to just-in-time inventory practices and require the ability to flexibly accommodate different packaging and materials, changeover has become increasing critical.


Rapid and repeatable change-over systems support line efficiency and production throughput, as they reduce machine downtime.

Serpa Packaging Solutions (Visalia, CA) designs most of its packaging machines for toolless changeover in under ten minutes. Where a standard changeover system is used, parts are colored-coded to allow for fast and easy part identification.

All machines are optionally available with automatic servo- and stepper-motor-controlled changeover as well, says Rich James, Serpa Packaging’s director of marketing.

Serpa Packaging has added a middle step between standard change-over and automatic change over with a patent-pending Verified Changeover solution.

"A fully automated changeover is an expensive option so it is often very hard to cost justify unless there are a lot of different products to be run on the machine or if the machine is changed over from one format to another quite often," says James.

"For customers that cannot justify automatic changeover, Verified Changeover is a great option to reduce their change overtimes."

With the Verified Changeover solution, the machine program verifies that the right change parts are being installed, and that all assemblies have been moved to the proper position, before allowing the machine to start, James says.

Machine parts are embedded with electronic contacts, or, if they are continuously moving parts, RFID tags or other sensors for remote verification. Digital dials display the current value of the changeover point and the target value. Once the assembly is in the correct position, the program is signaled and the machine is ready to start operation.

Operators can use both hands in the change over process as the system eliminates the need to carry changeover sheets. Serpa customers have also appreciated that the system eliminates the minor changes that are sometimes made to the machine from shift to shift, James says.

"The machine program continually monitors the digital values and change part sensors, and will not start if an assembly has been moved," he says.

For measuring the performance of individual machine and full production lines, Serpa has developed proprietary software for the collecting, calculating, and displaying overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) data.

Tested for high accuracy and consistency, the OEE data collection software is designed to allow additional equipment to be added in with little or no effort, James says.

In one Serpa-built "ready-to-run" packaging line which included a filler, capper, and bundler, OEE data collected and monitored by the Serpa control via Ethernet/IP is displayed on a single screen in easyto-grasp format, simplifying the customer operation and data collection.

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