“My suckers don’t suck,” Jimmy told me over the phone. “I need some help.”
Some things don’t suck; others do. This was clearly a case of the former, and I was on my way to see Jimmy’s problem.
When I got to the plant, he showed me his case erector. An arm with two vacuum cups pulled the case blank out of the magazine across the breaker bar to open it. Sometimes it worked OK; other times the case would shift, causing a jam. Jimmy had a teammate stationed at the erector just to clear jams promptly.
The problem leapt out at me as soon as I got eyeballs on the machine.
“Fiddlesticks on crooked cases,” I told Jimmy. “You have holes under your suckers.”
The case had a tear-away panel to allow for store display and the suckers were right on the perforation line. Air was leaking through the perforations preventing the suckers from getting a good grip. Without a good grip, the breaker bar knocked the case out of position.
“Here’s how to fix this,” I explained. “First, move the suckers away from the perf so they can grab smooth board. That’s the easy solution but the case layout may not permit it. If not, you need to modify your pickup system. Change to larger, stickier suckers and increase the capacity of your vacuum venturis to overcome the leaks.”
Sometimes, it is bad when something sucks. his was not one of those times.
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.