As filling systems are often operated for decades, regular modernization of mechanical and electronic components is part of the daily routine for many food manufacturers. The individual parts are often neither worn out nor defective, but simply outdated and obsolete due to newer technologies – forcing suppliers to remove them from their portfolio.
Obsolescence management for Zott & Gropper
As filling systems are often operated for decades, regular modernization of mechanical and electronic components is part of the daily routine for many food manufacturers. The individual parts are often neither worn out nor defective, but simply outdated and obsolete due to newer technologies – forcing suppliers to remove them from their portfolio. Manufacturers need to counter this deliberately induced obsolescence with a preventive obsolescence management to avoid production losses and benefit from the efficiency advantages of the latest technologies. Syntegon recently handled this task for two of its customers in the dairy industry and proactively supported them with modernizing control components. The outcome: both manufacturers benefit from a high level of planning and production reliability in the years to come.
For manufacturers in the dairy processing industry, planning obsolescence management in advance is particularly important, as they only have a short window of time in spring or autumn to overhaul their equipment. The rest of the year, their machines must run smoothly in order to handle high production volumes. The experts at Syntegon are aware of these challenges and have therefore recently taken initiative: Schneider Electric (SE), the manufacturer of control technology for several of Syntegon's filling machines, announced it would discontinue production of its spare parts from 2024. Syntegon informed its customers immediately – and began looking for a solution that would require as little time and material as possible at an early stage. Two companies have already benefitted from this solution.
Pilot project: Modernization at Zott in just seven days
Syntegon first modernized electronic control components of a Zott filling machine in Mertingen. Its eight-lane double index system for filling liquid dairy products processes up to 38,400 cups per hour, making it an important cornerstone of the production chain. Before the Syntegon experts installed the new control system, they extensively tested the software together with the electronics supplier and carried out virtual test runs. This allowed them to complete the modernization in the shortest possible time: the high-performance machine in Mertingen only stood still for seven days – instead of eleven as planned – before it was ready for operation again.
Successful follow-up order from Gropper
Syntegon implemented the second modernization project at retail brand specialist Gropper – and was able to draw on the experience of the pilot project. The control system upgrade of another eight-lane cup line in ultra-clean execution again took just seven days. In fact, the modernization went so smoothly that Gropper no longer needed any additional production support from a programmer on the last day of the project. The cup line achieved its usual output immediately after commissioning, eliminating the need for additional efficiency runs. The subsequent count reduction test to determine germs in Syntegon's test laboratories further proved that the germ reduction was performing perfectly in accordance with the ultra-clean filling requirements.
Added value beyond modernized control electronics
For both Gropper and Zott, Syntegon's service went beyond mere modernization, so that both companies were able to achieve additional benefits. As Zott wanted to use a free servo axis of the filling system for checking the sealing of the cups, Syntegon also supplied the servo motor and control technology, including integration into the new HMI. This not only saved Zott time, but also reduced costs. As an original equipment manufacturer, Syntegon was able to offer an attractive price for the new control system. In addition to the control technology for the filling line, Gropper also had the machine's dosing unit overhauled at the same time. The retail brand specialist's team was also able to pick up a few tips and tricks during the modernization process and complete a one-day training course. In the future, Gropper will be able to carry out motor or controller replacements, and even motor referencing themselves, without any difficulty. Thanks to the collaboration with Syntegon, the production of both manufacturers has become more reliable for the years ahead, as they do not need to fear costly or scarce spare parts. The manufacturers now benefit from state-of-the-art control technology and are able to quickly replace components if necessary – thus keeping production downtimes to a minimum.