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The Power of One Voice—On-site or Virtually

Vertical start-up can be consistently improved with the updated virtual FAT tool from PMMI’s OpX Leadership Network. In addition, processor relationships with OEMs can be greatly enhanced, resulting in better service and pricing.

FATs include automated product delivery systems and multiple conveyor loops to simulate actual plant conditions as closely as possible. Image courtesy of Spee-Dee Packaging Machinery.
FATs include automated product delivery systems and multiple conveyor loops to simulate actual plant conditions as closely as possible. Image courtesy of Spee-Dee Packaging Machinery.

Doug Herald, vice president of operational strategy and continuous improvement, AmeriQual Group

David Navin, president, Spee-Dee Packaging Machinery

Stephen Schlegel, co-founder and managing director, FSO Institute

There are strength, speed, and accuracy in having a common language when performing a critical milestone event in a capital project, such as the factory acceptance test (FAT). That is why, five years ago, PMMI’s OpX Leadership Network published “One Voice Factory Acceptance Tests Protocols for Capital Equipment in the CPG Industry.” Since then, these protocols have provided guidance to thousands in our industry. Consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) have learned from and applied these best practices, resulting in better outcomes for all.

But 2020 threw us a curve ball. Yes, even FATs have been affected by the pandemic! So, how can we do virtual FATs? To answer that question, the OpX team quickly reassembled, added a few new players, and within a matter of a few months, published the virtual FAT (vFAT) addendum. The documents are complementary in style and substance, enabling the FATs to be conducted and keep important projects continuing efficiently.

There are many questions that arise for a vFAT such as:

  • Whom do I involve, as we value our operators getting firsthand knowledge?
  • What if I absolutely must be on-site?
  • What technologies need to be applied?
  • How can I be sure my team learns the key points in changeovers?

These and other questions create a tremendous opportunity for processors to have a dialogue with their OEMs. The best time to have the conversation is during the request for proposal (RFP) stage and then clarify as you finalize contracts. The time spent at the beginning will be repaid in the effectiveness of the FAT.


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