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The case of the sunshiney day

The birds were chirping and the sun was shining outside my window. Little did I know that a client was about to bring some clouds and rain. She called to tell me that her new labeler was going nuts. She needed me there right away.

When I got there, it was working fine. Careful examination showed nothing wrong. A few hours of observation revealed nothing abnormal. I chalked it up to a fluke and told Diana, the production manager, to call me if it happened again.

Sure enough, the next day she called. The labeler was at it again. Once again I went to the plant only to find it working normally.

When it happened for the third day in a row, I knew it was not just random flukiness. It always happened at about the same time so the next day I was there early.

I spotted it immediately.

“Fiddlesticks on flukiness!” I told Diana. “Look at this.”

I showed her how the sun was shining through a window and tracking across the floor as the morning progressed. When it got to the labeler, it triggered the photoeye. As it tracked past the labeler, the problem disappeared.

A piece of cardboard to shade the photoeye provided an immediate if temporary fix. A more permanent shade was fabricated and mounted as a permanent solution.

Perhaps the future really is so bright we’re gonna need shades.

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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