Volpak unveils latest remote factory acceptance testing systems

An advanced live remote factory acceptance testing system has been unveiled by Barcelona-based Volpak, which has been developed following a spike in demand for remote assistance tools for equipment including within the confectionery and bakery sector.

The business, part of the Coesia group, specialises in the design of pouch packaging machines and solutions, and it is developing customer-assistance programme based on strategies targeting the requirements of firms seeking to cut down on travel expenses or are unable to make physical visits.

As the company explained to Confectionery Production, while “face-to-face” meetings have been the standard approach to performing a FAT, an increase in global legal travel restrictions as a result of the global coronavirus crisis has made this important step in the buying process more difficult.

Aside from these restrictions, 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 greater call for advanced technological solutions that can assure the same integrity and accuracy as an in-person FAT.

Next generation solution

The company’s latest FAT, offers a key opportunity for customers from any location in the world to witness the process directly from their physically remote distance. The way in which the virtual LFAT works is by setting up cameras around the machine that is being tested in the manufacturing area of the Volpak factory in Santa Perpetua, Barcelona.

The live stream is managed by Volpak’s technical specialists through the control desk. It also provides access to a live chat which allows the manufacturer’s engineers to interact with the customer team in real time. Depending on the machine, the live recording system includes four to seven cameras working simultaneously, as well as other remote tools monitoring electronic devices such as HMI, to allow the client to witness each and 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 and finishes.

Other specific checks of flexible packaging machines include physical check of items purchased under contract, machine measurements, operational tests, multiple formats check and run and E-stop and guards check. It becomes possible to check for completeness across the board. In addition to assessing the full functionality of a machine, during the v process, all of the technical documents are also verified, and a thorough final inspection is carried out of all of the equipment. Interaction is made possible through a handheld camera in addition to the live chat. The best part is that the LFAT is completely 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.

As the business notes, such systems have potential to save both time and resources, with the company stating that it has received strong feedback from installations during the travel restrictions imposed by the coronavirus pandemic that took over the first part of 2020. Remote observation provides transparency and reliability through the manufacturing and testing processes.

As an additional perk, unlike the traditional FAT where normally only two or 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, the company added that it recognises the need to implement solutions that ensure the same level of accountability, trust and communication.

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