Customer Requirements: Wrap 15 different SKUs of fruitcakes at 40 ppm with a machine that was cleanable to government standards.
Challenges: The specifying engineer left the company at the time of order. His successor was not as experienced. He spent the duration of the FAT trying to get soda out of the keyboard of his computer.
Fruitcake is both heavier and more irregular in density and weight than normal cake. It had paper on some sides but not all. The top is domed but not evenly in the case of cakes cut in quarter. Customer requirements changed after installation to include more extensive sealing, thereby requiring field installation of accessory heaters.
The customer staff was not available for training either at the time of FAT or during installation of the machine. This inhibited discovery of issues and transfer of knowledge of operation of the machine.
Discoveries: The cakes that we received for FAT were old production. New cakes had convex bottoms due to pan distortion. This resulted in poor sealing on the long seam. The cake cutter was not tuned and was providing inconsistent sizing of the cakes. This resulted in jams and cake drops in overwrapping process.
Outcome: The customer required an internal corporate engineer to come in to learn the operation of the machine. The speeds they achieved never matched their expectation. It was impossible to tell if this was a result of the lack of training, the inconsistent size of the cakes, or simply the composition of the cakes.