Getting it right first time

End of line automation

Focused on serving the fresh produce sector, David Jahn, co-owner of Brillopak with business partner Peter Newman, is passionate about assisting packhouses to address labour shortages, profitability and operational efficiency.

Part entrepreneur, part innovator, part director, David has a good grasp of how economic and political decisions impact business and society globally, particularly in the logistics, manufacturing and packing sectors. Building systems for a diverse client base - including leading UK supermarkets, SME food factories, and contract packers, David gets that no single approach to automation is right for every business or budget. He provides a fresh perspective and insight, applying his previous experience gained from launching a business, being a technology company Board Director and working in risk management consultancy

Whether you’re investing £500,000 or £5 million in a packing automation project, the processes, principles and potential pitfalls are the same.

1. Think Partnership

Think of your chosen automation integrator as a ‘partner’ and look at your decision to work together as the start of a long-term relationship. Both parties need to put the effort in. The system you are investing in should last well over 10 years and to get the best return from that investment you need to cultivate mutual trust and work as a team. This means being open about your expectations and limitations from the start to avoid misunderstandings down the line.

2. Take time to plan

Take time to plan your desired solution before placing your order. Any automation supplier worth their salt will want to spend time at the outset understanding all aspects of a project rather than rushing through an order based on incomplete information. Consider the space available, the relationship with other processes, every single SKU and its foibles. Think through and simulate the impact of all potential issues that could occur during production. Then make sure both parties understand the details and challenges before you start.

3. Put it in writing

Use a URS (User Requirement Specification) to ensure that your brief is clear, or ask your supplier to provide a detailed project specification. This helps to clarify exactly what is required from both parties and ensures a mutual understanding and agreement of the solution that is to be implemented.

4. Check before you accept

Before accepting delivery of the system, visit the manufacturer’s site to check it meets your URS. If it doesn’t, don’t accept it! Getting any fixes carried out before the system leaves the supplier’s factory to minimise production downtime. 

5. Allow time for installation

Planned downtime is better than unplanned downtime. If you force a fast install, you will lose twice the time in the months that follow fixing bugs that will have arisen through insufficient testing. Agree the time that will be required for installation and plan it into production schedules. 

Click here for many more tips from Davis

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