Tissue machines are a substantial capital investment so it’s understandable that vetting quality, runnability, and productivity is a top pre-purchase priority to ensure maximum return on investment. However, the strict focus also causes a blind spot when it comes to converting.
In recent years, tissue converting efficiency rates have consistently remained between 40-70%. It’s a dismal showing considering the substantial role converting plays in overall tissue manufacturing success, not to mention the emphasis tissue buyers place on pack sizes, sheet counts, embossing, printing, and packaging and palletizing options.
Overlooking low tissue converting efficiency also means overlooking opportunities for improvement in operational best practices, setup times, and equipment maintenance — areas that are frequently pinpointed as the causes of lackluster converting results.
Use this checklist to review your current converting processes to reveal how you can positively influence your converting efficiency:
- Materials: The quality and uniformity of parent reels dictate converting performance. Inspecting parent reels for breaks, rejects, and variations in properties (BW, bulk, strength), stretch, and tension reduces waste in materials and production time.
- Training: Training is a vital component of converting success, especially for equipment operators. A program that focuses on the basics such as job responsibilities, operational specific tasks, proper personal protective equipment (PPE), converting machinery operation and maintenance, lockout/tagout procedures, etc., is a strong start. Another key element of training is ensuring maintenance staff knows how to make the fine adjustments required to keep machines running efficiently in addition to proficiency in roll changeouts and other more routine tasks.
- Workspace Organization/Work Standardization: Lean Six Sigma practices are common in the identification and elimination of waste in the value stream, and not surprisingly customers gravitate toward these efficiencies with regard to tissue conversion. Implementing Lean philosophies in workspace organization and work standardization may seem like small steps, but the time savings it generates translates across the board.
- Production Planning and Setup: It’s highly inefficient to schedule multiple short runs of different products on the same line due to the amount of cumulative downtime needed for changeovers — one of the biggest contributors to OEE loss. Another factor negatively impacting OEE is equipment alignment in terms of having downstream equipment being capable of handling the throughput speed of the upstream machinery. For example, if your packaging equipment can only handle 6 cases per minute but your converting equipment is producing 12 cases per minute, your OEE will suffer.
- Spare Parts Accessibility: Much like the simplification in workspaces and work brought about by Lean practices, having fast and reliable access to spare parts — particularly through an OEM — minimizes converting disruption and allows for better management of lead times and customer response times.
- Maintenance: Proactive equipment maintenance does more than keep converting lines moving and promote machine longevity. It helps tissue manufacturers optimize production and leverage Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) — a leading key performance indicator in manufacturing process availability (downtime), performance (production speed), and quality (products meeting standards).
- Technology: Tissue manufacturers all over the world recognize that adopting technology is key to meeting customer demand. Advancements in the Internet of Things (IoT), robotics, artificial intelligence, 3D printing, and wearable technologies are transforming how products are designed, manufactured and serviced — as well as engaging and empowering employees to a greater degree.
Low tissue converting efficiency is a challenge Fabio Perini is helping tissue manufacturers overcome with Digital Tissue™, our comprehensive infrastructure of smart equipment and services that transform processes and production into responsive forward-thinking solutions. Learn more in Digital Tissue™: Harnessing the Power of Industry 4.0.