Proactive discontinuation management ensures long-term line operation

Mike Edwards   

Features bottling plant KHS Group robots

Klaus Thatenhorst of KHS.

Supplier component discontinuation is a proactive service that prevents costly machine downtimes at beverage plants and safeguards the long service lives of its filling and packaging machinery. With the availability of significant components becoming ever shorter, the KHS Group’s discontinuation management scheme makes sure plant equipment stays up and running.

This topic is gaining in importance in our digital age, the company says, where electronic components have shorter product life cycles. KHS notes that it not only brings its systems into line with the state of the art — operators also benefit from increased machine efficiency thanks to the use of new technologies.

The service proactively tackles the problem of supplier components no longer being available and having to be replaced by new solutions.

“We support our partners with our knowledge of any technical changes required to make sure that machinery continues to function, and production runs smoothly at beverage bottling plant,” says Klaus Thatenhorst, head of the Standards Department at KHS. “By replacing the necessary components in good time, we ensure that our machines have long service lives and are thus sustainable.”

KHS says it is able to react fast to any changes thanks to its holistic system of data management. Through this the systems supplier always knows which part on which machine belonging to which customer is likely to be affected by a discontinuation. This shortens response times should new components be needed. This is especially relevant when modifications have to be made to the machine’s engineering. In 2019, for example, 1,700 discontinuation solutions had to be found. Half of these required much more than a simple replacement, with intensive technical work necessary.

The KR C2 controller for KUKA palletizing robots will only be available until 2024. KHS is already preparing itself and its customers for the necessary machine conversion.

So that it is better prepared for the possible discontinuation of system parts, KHS is in regular close contact with its suppliers. It is already common knowledge, for instance, that robot manufacturer KUKA will only be supplying its current KR C2 controller until 2024; this has an impact on two series of KHS palletizers, among other machinery. The engineering company is thus preparing itself and its customers for the pending conversion well in advance. The KHS Group is also able to offer fast and flexible systems and solutions for short-term discontinuations. Its parts management system stocks replacements for as long as possible for precisely this purpose.

This may all initially sound like an expensive and time-consuming undertaking for the bottler, yet it yields great benefits on several counts. By changing components quickly, the systems provider avoids unplanned downtimes over a longer period of time caused by the failure of a part no longer available. Furthermore, beverage producers can sometimes even improve line efficiency by installing new replacement components and at the same time carry out other useful upgrades. When converting a machine, KHS Service not only removes and replaces discontinued components but also takes them back and reworks them.

In our digital day and age discontinuation management is an issue which is becoming increasingly important. While mechanical parts such as gear motors are usually available for up to ten years, according to the German Mechanical Engineering Industry Association (VDMA) some electronic components last just two years. Accordingly, the number of replacements for comparable parts required as a result of discontinuation is already currently increasing at shorter and shorter intervals.

This article was contributed by KHS Group of Dortmund, Germany. The company has a Canadian sales office in Toronto.

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