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Leveraging conveyor systems to increase productivity

Viewing conveyors as a commodity is risky for pharmaceutical manufacturers. Conventional wisdom grossly - and wrongly - devalues conveyors, regarding them as cheaply built, non-value-added units that simply move product through successive packaging process steps. Conveyors are typically the last elements considered by consumer packaged goods companies. Purchase decisions are usually made on the basis of cost, not value.

Conveyors are critical elements in any packaging process, forming bridges between and coordinating independent stations of packaging automation. This is particularly true in pharmaceutical manufacturing, where profitability is heavily influenced by the performance of the packaging line. Conveyors must not only aid in reaching company marketing priorities to drive new packaging formats, but must also balance them with cost reduction and labor optimization imperatives.

Packaging Flow Management (PFM) is a strategic approach to conveyor system planning and deployment that identifies and optimizes critical points between a given packaging process and conveyor system functionalities. Unlike conventional approaches to selecting and deploying conveyors, PFM provides a holistic focus that evaluates several factors to ensure maximum flexibility and lowest total cost of ownership. Next month: A look at these factors.

--By Tony Barr
(second in a series)

Tony Barr is product marketing manager for modular chain conveyor systems with Bosch Rexroth Corp.'s Linear Motion and Assembly Technologies Group.
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