Rich was proud of his new gummy bear vertical form-fill-sealer/bagger and I was surprised when he called me. "My bears are gummy and I need your help."
"Aren't bears supposed to be Gummy?" I asked.
"Not like this. Get here fast."
In the plant, Rich explained that sometimes the bears flowed smoothly. But other times they would clump and stick. It was the same on all flavors, so we ruled that out.
I asked if he had always had this problem. "The system ran fine for several months after it had been installed in January," he told me. "It wasn't until May that we began having problems. It's not consistent. Sometimes they run well; sometimes not."
Luckily he had a good monitoring system so I could see how the machine ran, hour by hour.
"Fiddlesticks on gummy Gummy Bears!" I quickly told him. "Do you measure the humidity in the production room?"
"No," he confessed.
"And you don't control it either, do you?" I asked.
"That's your problem." I told him. "Humidity is making your bears gummy and causing clumping. That causes clumping and sticking. In January, when it is cold out, inside humidity inside will be low and no problem. In spring and summer, humidity is low in the morning but increases over the day. Like your production problems."
Enclose your system and install a suitable dehumidifier. Gummy Gummy Bears will be a thing of the past. Good production will be the thing of your future.
KC Boxbottom, packaging detective, is on the case to solve tough packaging puzzles. He is the alter-ego of John Henry, CPP. Known as the Changeover Wizard, Henry is the owner of Changeover.com, a consulting firm that helps companies find and fix the causes of inefficiencies in their packaging operations. He produces a free monthly newsletter called Lean Changeover, which contains articles and tips on changeover and related issues. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.