In the context of weak consumer demand, efficiency is more important than ever but new research published by Pack Expo organisers PMMI suggests that productivity on the factory floor is far lower than it could be with better training and technical support.
PMMI spokesperson Matt Croson said that when a drinks manufacturer buys a new line or a new machine there is close contact with the supplier. Fantastic training is provided and the equipment starts out operating as it should to conform to the promised return-on-investment (ROI).
But come back a year later and Croson said it is common to see the equipment operating at 70 per cent of potential productivity.
In “Beverage Packaging Market Assessment - A Benchmark Study,” a report carried out by Proactive Worldwide on behalf of PMMI, beverage manufacturers said they were dissatisfied with technical support. Service was seen by a number of survey respondents to be barely adequate and often lacking in many areas.
The authors of the report therefore advised packaging companies that offering superior service and support would address an unmet need.
But Croson said suppliers were not solely to blame as quality servicing and support requires a resource commitment from beverage manufacturers as well.
Manufacturers must be willing to invest in training for operators and incur the cost of allowing workers to take time off the line to ultimately improve future productivity. High staff turnover makes training all the more important as new operators must be given accurate information about how best to operate machinery.
This training does not have to be costly and there are alternatives to a high cost, hands-on approach. Croson said PMMI has launched e-learning webinars for machine trouble shooting that aim to offer cost-effective training that could translate into significant efficiency savings.
Inadequate training and support is a perennial problem in the industry. Croson said it has been an issue for the past 12 years but insisted that some companies are now really committed and realise that low productivity is the consequence of under-investment in training.
In a recessionary environment, now could be the time for beverage manufacturers and suppliers to work together to invest in the training, servicing, and support that can make a real difference to productivity at a fraction of the cost of big capital investments.