Preventive Maintenance Q & A

Posted: April 13, 2009

Preventive maintenance (PM) is important to the operation of any piece of production equipment. Here are some thoughts on PM programs we shared recently with a trade publication.

Q: What components of splicing systems need to be replaced most often?

MAI: It depends on the equipment, the material and the process. In butt splicers, for example, we might expect it to be the anvils or cutter wheels that have gone dull. And here's an important component of a splicing system that isn't even part of the splicer: it's the tape. Make sure you use a good tape, and replace any that's been sitting around too long.

Q: What are the consequences to converters of not having a preventive maintenance system in place?

MAI: One way to answer this question is by asking another: what is the cost of a missed splice? Take, for example, a missed splice in a label converting process due to poor splicer maintenance. It will cost the converter at least a couple of press lengths of material. Add to this the time required for re-webbing, cleaning up and re-setting controls, and it could easily run into the hundreds of dollars. Add to this the lost profits, late shipments, depressed morale, etc., and PM looks pretty cost-effective!

Q: What are the advantages to converters of having a comprehensive PM program in place?

MAI: Again, these depend on the equipment, the material and the process. And it depends on what is meant by "comprehensive." If that implies constant inspection, lengthy periods of downtime and frequent replacement of parts, then that kind of program sounds like a disadvantage--and an indicator that you may need to upgrade to a better piece of equipment. On the other hand, if the equipment is engineered and constructed well, and if the operators are trained to use it properly and inspect it regularly, a simple maintenance regimen is all that is needed.

Q: How long can users expect to prolong the life of their equipment if they have a decent PM program?

MAI: That depends on the equipment and on the people using and maintaining it. Preventive maintenance is helpful, but start with a well-designed, robustly built machine. The best splicers are those that follow the "KIS" principle: "keep it simple." We have machines in operation for over 30 years. If you have a machine that's built to last, then, frankly, you shouldn't need an exhaustive or costly PM program.

Q: What can owners expect to spend when employing a PM program for their splicing equipment?

MAI: There are so many different kinds of splicers that it is hard to give a "rule of thumb" on cost. Generally, we would expect lap splicers running paper, or butt splicers in the narrow web segment, to be on the lower end. Heat seal splicers, or splicers in the liquid packaging industry, would likely be more.