Johannes Krahn, field service engineer at WNA, takes a break from traveling across the country to repair state-of-the-art machines and shares his insight on how to keep them healthier for a longer time while saving money.
1. How long have you been working as a technician?
I’ve been a technician for five years, and it was my first real job out of college. I studied engineering for some time but decided to switch paths and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics.
2. What do you like most about being a technician?
I’m constantly challenged both physically and mentally. I work very diligently to ensure that our customers have success in their endeavors and that the solutions I provide them with meet their needs.
3. How were you trained?
I learned my job mostly through studying, taking notes, paying attention to the work of other German technicians and working hands on. My degree in mathematics has also helped with the trouble shooting and problem-solving part of my job because there is so much critical thinking required in what I do.
4. What distinguishes the process of evaluating Waldner filling and sealing equipment?
Waldner equipment is designed to specifically suit customers’ needs and maximize their Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE), achieving above 95%. Depending on the product handled by these machines, there are different things we must pay attention to in order to achieve the desired results.
For example, if we are handling very thick, viscous products, it’s important to make sure they are set for the right dosage so there are no drips or issues with sealing. Conversely, if the product contains more liquid and fills in more easily, you must ensure there is no sloshing and that the carrier plates move properly.
5. What do you focus on when evaluating a customer’s Waldner machine?
I ask the customer what issues they’ve been experiencing with their machine so I can find a particular area to focus on. I then watch the machine run so I can understand why it is behaving incorrectly. Next, I check if the parts are intact, including the circuitry and electrical diagrams, or if there are alterations that need to be applied to the machine’s program.
I will also check if the products are up to specification. I check if the pouches are the right size or if the cups are too thin or thick, because suppliers do make mistakes sometimes. When I run the Machine Performance Analysis (MPA), I search for anything that can be improved, fixed or replaced so the machine can run at its best.
6. What are the most common issues you find?
The biggest issues I find pertain to customers that don’t take good care of their carrier plates and operators that don’t handle the machines properly — for example, placing carrier plates incorrectly, dropping them or putting too much weight on them. Carrier plates that are improperly cleaned accumulate dirt and grime which can make it harder for cups to easily slide and cause problems with the filling and sealing processes.
7. Why is maintenance so important for customers to pursue the highest productivity levels?
Waldner machines are high-precision equipment; everything is set up meticulously and measured with a high degree of precision. To reach their full potential, the machines should be properly cleaned, inspected and lubricated, while also replaced routinely with specific parts based on machine operating hours and conditions.
If you have overused or worn-out parts, you can experience issues down the line. You will end up having more significant downtime, thus impacting productivity. I’ve seen machines that could be running at 95% OEE but are barely running at 40% of the customer’s desired output because of improper maintenance practices.
We understand that people are under pressure to have no downtime, so they often opt for the easier, cheaper fix, but that’s the wrong way to do it. The right way might take a bit longer, but it keeps the machines healthier for a longer time and saves money. Parts replacement needed by machine misuse is usually two to three times more costly than the annual recommended parts maintenance.
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