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Industry Insights 4 min read

The Importance of Equipment Redundancy

By Rand Whitney August 2, 2023

Any manufacturer knows that no matter how new your equipment is, every once in a while you will need to shut it down in order to perform maintenance or replace parts. It’s far better to stay on top of scheduled upkeep than to have something breakdown later.

As a business owner or plant manager, the goal is always to manufacture as much as possible while maintaining quality standards. When you’re busy you can’t afford to take days off, especially in the world of corrugated packaging where a disruption to our business means a disruption to our customers’ business. That’s where machine redundancy comes into play.

What Is Machine Redundancy?

What is redundancy? Isn’t being redundant usually a bad thing? Machine or equipment redundancy is the practice of using identical pieces of equipment to ensure that you can continuously operate in case of a shut down.

Operationally, it allows you to schedule orders more easily since they can be easily placed on any number of machines instead of one designated piece of equipment. Plant managers gain the flexibility to adjust schedules and move jobs between machinery.

From a maintenance perspective, it also makes it a lot easier for mechanics and maintenance staff to gain experience with and master fixing and performing scheduled upkeep on your machinery. Instead of needing to know the ins and outs of multiple different pieces of equipment, they may only need to know how to repair one. Additionally, the spare parts are universal, making ordering and warehousing easy and efficient.

How does Machine Redundancy Effect Packaging?

Our customer, along with every company around the world that sells a physical product, rely on packaging to keep their business moving. Packaging is often forgotten but is a crucial part in bringing any product to market. Without it, operations come screeching to a halt.

A good supplier allows you to run your business without having to think twice about packaging. Because of this, we place a large emphasis on ensuring uninterrupted service. In the corrugated packaging industry machine redundancy comes into play in both our converting and sourcing.

In relation to materials sourcing, we own and operate a network of paper mills that provides us with a constant, guaranteed supply of paper. During the pandemic, many sheet plants were having trouble finding paper to produce packaging. Due to our vertical integration our supply was never in doubt.

We also have ownership in multiple different sheet feeders, along with operating multiple corrugator facilities. In the corrugated world, a sheet plant cannot operate without a steady supply of corrugated sheets. If a company does not have ownership of this part of the supply chain, they can be pushed down the list for companies that place larger orders.

In converting facilities there are two main types of equipment, flexo folder gluers and die cutters. To make life easier for maintenance personnel, machine operators, and plant managers we use common types among these equipment groups. On the scheduling side, plant managers can more easily find a place to run jobs since there are different machines capable of running each box. This is important since cutting dies and print plates are built for a designated machine. With redundancy plans, you can move tooling between common pieces of equipment. Groups of operators may also be rotated since knowledge on how to run one machine is transferable to others within the plant. This makes shift scheduling flexible.

These benefits allow Rand-Whitney to provide uninterrupted service on extremely quick lead times. For more information on how we can help you please fill out our contact form today!