The case of the freaky frequency

KC Boxbottom in Case Packing Machinery on April 28, 2014

The phone rang, it was Linda. "KC, my case erector keeps running away!"

"You mean it is trying to elope?"

"Very funny, KC." I could see her giving me "The Look."

"Seriously, the machine runs too fast. Even when I turn it down to the minimum speed, I can't slow it down enough. I need you to come take a look."

"On my way," I told her.

"Looks a few years old," was my first comment when I arrived.

"Yeah, it came from a sister plant in France. We needed an automated case erector and the price was right. The manufacturer's specs say it should run from five to 10 cases per minute. We have it slowed all the way down and it still runs too fast, disbalancing our line balance."

"France, huh?" I mused. "Fiddlesticks on your line balancing problem. This machine has European electrics."

"So it's a voltage problem?" she asked.

"Nope. They use 220 volt single phase electric in France. Same as here.

"The motor is the problem, Linda. It is the French standard 50 hertz(hz). U.S. power is 60 hz. A/C motor speed is a function of the frequency, meaning that this motor is running 20 percent faster here than in France. You will either need to change to a 60 hz motor or add a frequency converter to the power supply."

"Thanks, KC," Linda told me. "And if you want to do any more comedy, don't quit the day job."

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, 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 [email protected].


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