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Wyeth engineer offers controls technologies insights

Build machines that can share data with machines built by other OEMs and find better ways to streamline fault reporting.

Those were two of the recommendations to packaging machinery OEMs made by Brad Neuroth, controls engineer at Madison, NJ-based Wyeth, one of the leading global makers of pharmaceutical, consumer healthcare products, and animal healthcare products, during the May 24 Packaging Automation Forum (PAF) in Chicago. The Forum was produced and managed by Packaging World and sister publication Automation World.

"One thing I found in a recent project," Neuroth told Forum attendees, "is that most of the packaging machinery vendors I dealt with will certainly sell you a stand-alone machine, and for the most part they are fine machines that provide a good operator interface. But what remains challenging is taking machinery from two different vendors [a cartoner and a case packer, for example] and trying to get them to talk together. Just from a standpoint of 'does the photo eye on the exit of the one match up with the photo eye on the entrance of the other.' I'd like to see these kinds of things more integrated."

Neuroth also urged packaging machinery OEMs to bring more coherence to fault reporting. "Our experience as we took steps to get better at OEE [Overall Equipment Efficiency] is that too often when you ask that a machine be capable of reporting its faults, the faults are all lumped together. Correlating them and grouping them together to create meaningful information is really a struggle, and it would be very helpful if machines we bought had more streamlined fault reporting. We don't really want to invent that kind of thing for ourselves. We'd rather see the OEMs help us with the diagnostics on their equipment. After all, they know it best."

-- by Pat Reynolds, Editor, Packaging World
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