Volpak, a Coesia company leader in designing pouch packaging machines and solutions, is developing a customer-assistance program based on advanced strategies to allow remote work on machines and systems. In response to the needs of clients who are unable to go on a trip or wish to cut down on travel expenses, Volpak has introduced the latest machine testing tool, known as the ‘live remote FAT’ or LFAT.
Volpak is a leading manufacturer of horizontal form-fill-seal solutions for the pouch-type packaging in a wide range of market applications, from consumer goods to chemicals and pharmaceutical products. The company has a second production plant (one is at Barcelona headquarters, where the equipment is designed, manufactured, and marketed) in Pune, India, and presence in 130 countries around the world.
Increasing need for remote assistance tools
While “face-to-face” meetings have been the standard approach to performing a FAT (factory acceptance testing), an increase in global legal travel restrictions due to the global Covid-19 crisis has made this critical step in the buying process more difficult. Aside from these global travel restrictions, according to Volpak, many companies in the packaging industry would need and prefer to cut down on expenditures such as personnel travel and the related costs, from the round trip through to accommodation and subsistence coverage. As packaging companies’ inclination to travel becomes more complicated and less immediate, there is an increasingly more important call for advanced technological solutions that can assure the same integrity and truthfulness as an in-person FAT.
Next Generation – Volpak’s ‘Live remote FAT’
In response to these needs, Volpak has introduced the latest machine testing tool, known as the ‘live remote FAT’ or LFAT, which works as the FAT, except that it claims to offer an opportunity for customers from any location in the world to witness the process directly from their physically remote distance.
The working of virtual LFAT includes setting up cameras around the machine that is being tested in the manufacturing area of the Volpak factory in Santa Perpetua, Barcelona. Volpak’s technical specialists manage the live stream through the control desk. The company also offers access to a live chat that allows the manufacturer’s engineers to interact with the customer team in real-time.
Depending on the machine, the live recording system includes 4 to 7 cameras working simultaneously, as well as other remote tools monitoring electronic devices such as HMI, to allow the client to witness every step of the Live LFAT in real-time. The steps focus on checking machine characteristics such as dimensions, finishes, wiring and connections, security and alarms, machine performance with the product, packaging material, pouch style and size, and checking pouch quality, resistance, tightness, finishes, and others.
Multi-platform and multi-operating
Other specific checks of flexible packaging machines include a physical check of items purchased under contract, machine measurements, operational tests, multiple formats check and run, and eStop and guards check. It becomes possible to check for completeness across the board. In addition to assessing full functionality of a machine, during the process, all technical documents are verified, and a thorough final inspection is carried out of all equipment. Interaction is made possible through a handheld camera in addition to the live chat.
According to Volpack, the LFAT is convenient and does not require the customer to purchase any additional technology, since it is both “multi-platform” and “multi-operating”. The entire LFAT process is viewable in real-time through any videoconferencing software, like Microsoft Teams, Skype, Zoom, Google Meet, and Cisco Webex.
The remote future of factory acceptance tests
Volpack claims that due to live remote FAT or LFAT, customers can save even more time, money, and resources than before. All of the live remote monitoring tests conducted by Volpak have been confirmed by its satisfied clients who have already benefited from this technology during the travel restrictions imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic that took over the first part of 2020.
Remote observation offers transparency and reliability through the manufacturing and testing processes. As an additional perk, unlike the traditional FAT, where normally only two to three people travel to validate the machine, all customer employees, including all engineers and machine operators can participate in the new LFAT. As the world continues to adapt to changes that affect travel and movement, Volpak recognizes the need to implement solutions that ensure the same level of accountability, trust, and communication as ever.