Case Study

Canning Line’s Layout Relevance

manual content check in a c 4096x2741@1x

  No one of has X-Rays' eyes.  Because of this obvious reason, cans’ content cannot be visually verified: the Full can Electronic Inspector in the Line cannot be unique, because its potential malfunctions or failures should stop completely the entire Line.  It's impossible to control manually many tens of thousands of cans-per-hour (image credit SABMiller plc)

when 100 balances are not e med hr

  100 laboratory analytic electronic balances would not be enough to let a 72000 cans-per-hour Canning Line be running, if someone oversight that our eyes cannot radiograph the cans


No one of us has X-Ray's radiographic eyes.  Because of this obvious reason, the cans’ content cannot be visually verified if, due to any reason, the Full Can Inspector is not active.  Impossible to hand weigh the output of a Can Filler Machine to separate the underfilled containers.


We are starting in a renowned Food and Beverage factory, the greatest existing in that Country, a Full Can Electronic Inspector.  Also, this brief Case Study is not referred to any SABMiller® plc Brewery depicted in the figure above.  One capable of 72000 cans-per-hour measured at the Filler Machine, lying at the out feed of the Can Filler Machine and configured with sensors in-the-Machine.   It’s a Line producing 22 hours a day, 6 days a week.  Its hourly production efficiency measured at the end of Line is 90 %.   The staff operates the Line 22 hours in a day: two hours of stop time to allow the Staff to pray in a special room.   Because of these reasons, each 24 hours they are producing 1 425 600 cans.   We observe a strange detail: what we are starting is the unique Electronic Inspector in all of the quite huge Canning Line.   The Readers having practice of cans’ filling and packaging know that an electronic balance, a Quality Control Laboratory electronic balance like one of those visible in the figure at right side, is the only way existing to cross-check if what the Electronic Inspector’s Fill Level control respects the Legal limits imposed over the minimum content.   To have just a single fill level inspection represents a gamble: shall the Future be so kind with us to let the Electronic Inspector operate without major problems along the 10-15 consecutive years we’d like the Canning Line produce ?     Yes, because if that device does not function it exists only the electronic balance to assure the content.  But, it’s obviously impossible to weigh over 64000 cans-per-hour: 100 Operators simultaneously weighing should not be enough.  We are speaking to hand-weigh twenty pallets each one hour !   The Effect easily imagined yet at a first sight during the Line startup was entire Canning Line completely stopped, waiting for technical assistance and/or spare parts.

Murphy’s Law 

Two years later, in a day of Bank holiday, we are called by the desperate Customer, a personal friend too, informing us that the:

  • Electronic Inspector is rejecting all of the cans;
  • X-Rays are no more generated by the under and over filling X-ray bridges;
  • Canning Line production is forcedly completely stopped since several hours.

Tele-guiding his direct initial service activities we understand that the signal from a certain lamp, is presenting anomalous resistance values to the Customer multimeter, where we ask to check.   A lamp enabling the X-Rays emission to respect all rules about the emission of ionising radiations in the environment.   A lamp which cannot simply be exchanged with another not identical, because a safety circuit is limiting to a thin range the range of resistances, so to be sure that the legally enforced signalling is truly made.   Unfortunately, the Customer has no spare part for that lamp.   He had to wait a couple of days, until similar lamps were finally encountered elsewhere, before to change the lamp and restart the entire Canning Line.

Root Cause

What you’d define as a Root Cause for the days of Production lost ?   We list below a few alternative root causes, some internal and others external with respect to the Food and Beverage Packaging Factory, intentionally omitting to posit what it looks us the one:

  1. (internal)  the Plant Maintenance Manager forgot to buy all due spare parts 2 years before the event, including that vital lamp ?
  2. (internal)  the Technical Manager forgot to provide the Line 2 years before the event with two identical Fill Level Electronic Inspectors rather than one, the second set after the Pasteurizer machine, then before the end of Line ?
  3. (internal)  the Technical Manager forgot to equip the Line 2 years before the event with an additional packs' or clusters' Weighchecker, set close to the end of Line ?
  4. (internal)  along past 720 days of Production the Plant Maintenance staff prayed too much (totalling 720 hours) and studied too little the Electronic Inspector “User  Handbook” specifying the relevance of that lamp ?
  5. (external)  the shops selling electrical appliances in the towns around the Factory are not fully provided of lamps ?

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