8 Preventative Maintenance Tips to Avoid Unnecessary Downtime on Packaging Equipment

Date of post: December 22, 2021   By: LINC Systems

Preventative maintenance programs extend the life and efficiency of the equipment on your packaging lines. Taking proactive steps to monitor, replace and repair worn machine components not only prevents unexpected equipment failure but also results in fewer costly repairs and downtime.

Machine reliability can be impacted by events such as:

  • Harsh operating conditions
  • Temperature and pressure changes
  • Balance and alignment issues
  • Poor lubrication levels
  • Damaged flex points like hoses and tubing
  • Vibration and more

When was the last time you reviewed your preventative maintenance programs for primary, secondary and end-of-line packaging equipment like these:

shrink wrap machines, stretch wrap machines, strapping machines, printers  

Most Frequent Reasons for Packaging Machine Service Calls

For many organizations, packaging lines operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week and unplanned downtime can be devastating. That’s why regular and planned machine downtime should include routine machine maintenance to prevent expensive and unexpected equipment failure. Frequently, we receive service calls for the following issues:

  • Pneumatic or hydraulic hose leaks
  • Equipment malfunction
  • Lower production cycles
  • Production bottlenecks
  • Photo-eye misalignment

Frequent inspections of equipment can reduce operational interruptions and enhance machine performance. As part of your regular inspections, we recommend paying close attention to machine wear points that commonly result in failure.

Call your LINC Systems representative at 800-252-5894 to set up your preventative maintenance program today.

Pay Attention to these Common Wear Points on Packaging Equipment

One common wear point with stretch wrapping machines is the location where workers use knives or blades to cut stretch film and accidentally cut the carriage rollers. This creates a seam on the roller itself. When the film is then loaded and run through the machine, it travels over the damaged roller creating an edge on the film. Not only does that edge, or scratch, on the film impact transfer capability, it impacts final packaging costs as well. The result may be too much stretch film (increasing material costs) or too little (failing to provide a secure hold).

Related: 5 Simple Ways for Manufacturers to Save on Packaging Costs

In addition to keeping a regular lubrication schedule, cleaning the exterior of packaging machines is critical to overall machine performance. Secondary packaging equipment used in food production such as shrink wrappers and conveyors is prone to spills and messes that can impede operations and halt production.

Aside from cleaning up spills, look for dirt, dust, debris and other contaminants around the exterior and base of the machine. Where there is gunky buildup, there is probably a failed component that needs to be replaced. Once you perform a deep clean on the unit itself, look for precursors to machine failure that include bad bearings, seals and gaskets.

  preventative maintenance for packaging equipment

8 Maintenance Tips for Optimum Packaging Machine Performance

Regular inspections can cut costs and risks while improving the performance and longevity of your equipment. Remember, before performing any maintenance activities, make sure the machine is not energized and all affected employees are notified of equipment status. Maintenance and repairs should only be performed by competent personnel, but here are a few tips anyone can use to spot potential problems.

1. Inspect for wear, dirt and leaks
Beyond mandatory inspections required by law, continuous monitoring of your equipment through daily and pre-shift inspections can alert you to potential problems before they lead to equipment interruption. Look for signs of wear on mechanical elements like motors and pumps. Has dirt or debris built up around the unit? Are there signs of leaks from bad seals or faulty connectors? Is the unit exposed to moisture or extreme environmental conditions?

2. Check lubrication of the systems
Lubricating and greasing moving parts, bearings and rolling elements are important for corrosion and friction prevention. Be sure to monitor lubrication levels and viscosity to ensure maximum service life. Avoid over-lubricating as it can cause overheating when parts have to work harder to move through the oil. Improper lubrication can lead to dirt buildup at the point of lubrication as well.

3. Inspect electrical components
Electrical components must be inspected regularly to check for proper anchorage, alignment, grounding and clearance for optimum safety and production. This work should be left to the professionals who can perform a complete inspection. However, you can perform a visual inspection of your electrical components that includes looking for frayed wiring, exposure to moisture or contaminants, damaged plugs or tripped breakers. If electrical adjustments are required, contact your maintenance manager, service provider or licensed electrician.

4. Check belts, chains and tensioners
Hearing unusual noise or experiencing a sudden change in production capability? The problem may be worn or damaged belts, pulleys, chains or tensioners. Damage to these components or misalignment can cause premature machine failure. Inspect and replace these components according to manufacturer recommendations to ensure optimum performance.

5. Inspect and clean photo eyes
Photo eyes are photoelectric sensors that detect changes in movement, obstructions and product location for safe operation. Misaligned photo eyes can shut down an entire production line, costing businesses thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars if the sensors are not functioning properly. Additionally, misaligned or damaged photo eyes can create a safety hazard for nearby workers if a person or object were to accidentally enter the production line.

6. Inspect and clean printheads
With regular cleaning, your print heads should be relatively easy to clean. Failure to perform regular maintenance tasks can result in excess ink and buildup. Remove printheads and covers, use solvent to clean charging plates, gutter and entire printhead. Use a soft cloth to wipe off excess solvent before replacing the printhead and cover. LINC Systems provides custom inkjet printer cleaning to help you keep your inkjet printheads performing at optimal levels.

Learn how to clean your LINX 8900 Printhead. Watch now.

7. Maintain optimum critical spare inventory
Keeping spares on hand is a challenging, but necessary aspect of your preventative maintenance program. With the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, many manufacturers struggle to overcome limited labor markets and supply constraints, making it hard to get the parts you need when you need them. We offer bundle packaging, which is a detailed wear parts list customized to your machine assets. This helps ensure you don’t run out of critical spare parts inventory required to maintain and repair your packaging equipment.

8. Record benchmark data
Rather than be caught off guard with unexpected machine failure, protect your assets with a detailed evaluation of your packaging systems, develop a clear standard operating procedure (SOP) and document all inspections and repairs. Keep track of performance data before and after adjustments and if any maintenance tasks are performed. This will enable you to make smarter operational decisions based on real measurements instead of guesswork.

For more comprehensive maintenance suggestions, download preventative maintenance checklists from LINC System:

Packaging Machine Maintenance

What is the true cost of downtime?

There are many ways to calculate the costs associated with planned and unplanned downtime and each facility is going to have their own way to measure these expenses. However, downtime is commonly measured by four factors: loss of production, direct labor costs, storage costs and stress (employee and machine) costs.

The true cost of downtime is significant and when overlooked can have disastrous impacts on a business. According to a recent study: “Roughly 82 percent of companies that have experienced unplanned downtime over the past three years, have experienced outages that lasted an average of four hours. The cost of downtime came with a price tag of an estimated two million dollars.”

For large scale production, let’s estimate that a minute of downtime will cost you anywhere from $4,300 to $22,000. If you factor the lowest end at $4,300 per minute, after 10 minutes that’s $43,000. If you calculate that hourly, it adds up to $258,000 and if the average time reported downtime is 4 hours, losses could exceed $1 million.

Example of Unplanned Downtime:

An ice cream line produces 100 units per minute, and each of these units represents a potential of $1 of profit. For this company, the cost of downtime in manufacturing based on lost production would be $100 per minute, $6000 per hour. That figure is just the cost of the production and does not include the labor cost per unit.

At LINC Systems, our Preventative Maintenance Services are custom-tailored to your packaging machinery for maximum machine uptime. This program is designed to increase the life of your equipment and optimize the performance of your system. You can set up your scheduled maintenance in the frequency that fits your schedule and needs. We offer programs like:

  • Onsite Equipment Evaluations
  • Stretch Wrapper Carriage Rebuilds
  • Marking and Coding, Inkjet Cleaning Services
  • Strapping Head Rebuild Program
  • PLC Technical and Programming Support

For packaging, fastening and industrial supplies, LINC Systems is your total solution.


LINC Systems is proud to carry a variety of packaging products, fasteners and industrial supplies from top-rated brands. We also have the maintenance and repair services you need to manage your operations more efficiently. If you would like to consolidate your supply needs, schedule maintenance and start saving time and money, contact us today by calling 800-252-5894 or visit LINCsystems.com.

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