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Plant Maintenance: challenges and opportunities in the age of technological innovation

Plant-Maintenance challenges and oppertunities


The manufacturing industry is constantly evolving, and this also applies to plants related to packaging and the production of PET moulds and preforms, which are mainly used in the beverage industry.  


One of the crucial aspects of ensuring efficient and high-quality production is plant maintenance.  


Over the last few years, market challenges and technological innovation are redefining the way companies approach this important aspect.


Plant maintenance: what are the main challenges of the market


Reducing the number and duration of unplanned machine downtime requires, of course, a change in the strategies or tools used by companies for maintenance management.


A study conducted by Advanced Tech, with reference to the two-year period 2021-22, found that almost half of the participants were planning to update their strategies and equipment.


Just over 30% of respondents indicated their intention to make use of programs to increase training and expand monitoring capacities.


According to a further study, conducted by CPX Group on a sample of 232 European companies, the biggest maintenance challenges are the containment and reduction of downtime due to unplanned interventions, (90% of respondents), followed by the aging of equipment and technological infrastructure (88%).


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Factors to take into account


There are many factors to take into account on the subject of the maintenance of individual machines and systems, let's see the main ones.  


  • Global competition: The PET packaging market is highly competitive globally. One of the main goals of companies is to progressively reduce costs and improve efficiency in order to remain competitive.

  • Changes in demand: The demand for PET containers and preforms can vary greatly based on seasonality, consumption trends, and changes in the beverage market. This requires flexibility in the production and maintenance of the plants.

  • Regulations and sustainability: Increasingly stringent environmental regulations require a special focus on sustainability in packaging production. This can affect plant design and maintenance procedures.





Opportunities offered by technological innovation


main challenge of plant maintenance


Hand in hand with the needs of the market, there are always new opportunities offered by technological innovation:


  • Predictive maintenance: Thanks to the principles of the Internet of Things (IoT) and data analytics, companies can implement predictive maintenance systems. Sensors installed on machines offer the possibility of constantly monitoring the condition of the plants and identifying early signs of impending failures. This allows for preventive interventions before costly unforeseen events occur, synonymous with long downtimes.

  • Remote maintenance: Innovation has made increasingly accurate remote maintenance systems possible. Technicians and specialists have long been able to diagnose and solve machine problems remotely, reducing the costs associated with on-site interventions. And the time needed for any long transfers.

  • Automation & Robotics: Plant automation can reduce the need for human maintenance. In the fairly distant future, robots and specific autonomous systems will be able to manage some maintenance tasks more and more efficiently. Robots dedicated to mold changes are currently being tested.

  • Advanced materials: The use of advanced materials in the production of machine parts can increase the durability and wear resistance of plants, reducing the need for frequent replacements.

  • Virtual training: Technological innovation has made distance learning possible for the operators of individual plants. This ensures that personnel are properly trained and able to carry out maintenance effectively.





Maintenance: the most efficient system is the one based on an integrated approach


As has been ascertained in the previous paragraphs, technological innovation offers significant opportunities to improve the maintenance of packaging plants.


However, it is important to take an integrated approach that combines technology with best maintenance practices. This can include regular maintenance planning, the implementation of advanced monitoring systems, and ongoing staff training, especially today when finding and including highly skilled personnel is difficult to secure.


To conclude, the PET packaging manufacturing industry faces significant challenges related to global competition and changing market needs. Fortunately, there are advanced solutions to improve plant maintenance, reducing costs, increasing efficiency and ensuring sustainability.  


Companies that embrace these opportunities will be better positioned to meet the challenges and grow within their industry.


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Written by SIPA

With 30 years of experience in PET containers solutions, SIPA has acquired considerable expertise in all available bottle manufacturing and filling technologies, from preforms to finished products, for the food and beverage, chemical products, cosmetics, detergents and pharmaceutical sectors.