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Increasing Output: Foil Wrapped Perishables

Output increased by > 100% in 4 months to match surge in customer demand


Fast Moving Consumer Goods - packaging of perishable food products

Project Length

4 months, 2 consultants


  • > 75% increase in output needed to satisfy explosion in customer demand


  • > 100% increase in output in 4 months
  • Major export clients had their orders successfully delivered on time and in full, allowing capture of a significantly expanded market share at a crucial growth point in the market.

Why was Chartwell brought on board?

This European food and drink producer had a very expensive problem. Having just entered a market in explosive growth, two recently installed production lines needed an uplift in production of over 75% to satisfy customer demand.  With key export clients coming online in a matter of weeks, Chartwell were brought in to make the biggest possible impact as soon as possible.

Zero Loss Analysis revealed that the average line efficiency was below 40%. Line data was captured to discover the main losses in performance and the team got to work on the largest opportunities.

Key Workstreams

Overall Strategy

The Opportunity Scan completed by the team analysed the potential throughput of each of the machines in the line. The filler emerged as the bottleneck of the line and was prioritised as the key focus for improvement

The two biggest causes of throughput limitation were:

  • Insufficient downstream buffer to keep the bottleneck constantly running
  • Weekly downtime due to repeat breakage of pneumatic cylinders used to unstack the packaging cartons

Line Control Improvements

  • Each process step was closely coupled with the next. Only one minute’s buffer protected this machine from problems on the downstream processes. This meant there were significant time losses on the bottleneck due to problems on the other machines.
  • Three days into the project, a larger buffer was installed, protecting the filler from > 90% of the downstream problems and giving an immediate uplift in output.
Resolving Downtime Issues at the Bottleneck
  • Taking a prioritised approach, the team solved a wide range of technical and operational problems causing downtime at the bottleneck
  • The largest cause of technical downtime on the filler was due to replacing a pneumatic cylinder which drove the device that unstacked the packaging containers. The pneumatic cylinder would break on at least a weekly basis.
  • The team discovered the piston was being driven at full pressure into the cylinder end, causing the piston to quickly break and lose its seal. However, reducing the pressure caused difficulties in unstacking the containers, as the force was no longer high enough
  • The team investigated further, and determined the reason the containers could not be unstacked was in fact due to them sticking in the magazine, not because the pneumatic pressure was insufficient. Expanding the magazine permanently resolved the issue.