Plant Upgrades on a Budget - With Quick Paybacks

Whether your budget is slowly rebounding or your big projects are still on hold, lots of upgrades can be accomplished quickly to offer both rapid returns and long-term gains.

By Bob Sperber, Plant Operations Editor

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The company also offers checkweighers suited to a broad range of requirements, and budgets:

  • High-speed checkweighers offer high accuracy at speeds up to 600 cans or jars per minute. "This makes it easier for our customers to justify a capital expense -- faster production throughput and real savings in material give-away," Cash says. As part of a plant upgrade, one "major soup manufacturer" is now using these units for measuring fill in open cans prior to broth addition.
  • Cost-conscious plants have been able to refurbish the frames of prior-generation units and install only the controller unit of new-generation checkweighers for a "significant discount over the cost of a new system," he adds.
  • For critical food safety requirements on challenging products such as cheese and ice cream, units offer the sensitivity for lower limits of detection of solid, foreign objects such as stainless steel, stone and glass. A major cheese manufacturer cited new, more stringent requirements as a justification.
  • More customers are also using X-ray detectors, which have become more affordable over time and fill needs other detection technologies cannot.
Full-service partnerships

Whether buying instrumentation, motors, detection systems or, really, anything that upgrades a plant's technology, decision-makers have come to expect high levels of service. This is especially true for those who have been getting by with reduced in-house staff, budgets or overall technical resources. Consider how, to help Frito-Lay optimize resources on its motor upgrades, Baldor:
  • Custom-designed equipment to meet PepsiCo's needs.
  • Facilitated a larger teaming effort to upgrade similar equipment throughout PepsiCo's organization.
  • Educated PepsiCo divisions and suppliers on proper motor management.
  • Provided training and technical support to PepsiCo associates and its suppliers on motor efficiency and systematic management of motor inventories.
Beyond vendor relationships, companies should leave no stone unturned to get the greatest benefits from their investments. Additional sources of collaboration include government programs (see More on the Web, to the right); utility providers and public service commissions that set energy rates; and of course, architectural, engineering and construction firms involved in larger capital projects.

Nothing can open the company coffers more readily than a track record of smart investments and returns. Barring that, it's imperative to measure any and all plant processes, benchmark current conditions and document improvements down to the cost per package. Start small to establish an ROI methodology that will impress management.
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