Remote installation and startup of aseptic fillers in Ivory Coast: a case study
From day-to-day operations to Industry 4.0: why Remote Technical Assistance is here to stay
The impact of COVID-19 on the packaging industry has been enormous. In the midst of discontinuous lockdowns, essential businesses, being critical for the normal functioning of our society, have remained active. Food manufacturers, for instance, have kept their service up and running, with orders doubling in size in light of an ever-growing consumer demand. As a result, the packaging industry has stepped up its productivity to serve the needs of the food supply chain.
But what production-wise was merely a stress test has turned out to be a paradigm shift as far as technical assistance is concerned. For troubleshooting as well as to guide the customers through the various stages of production, packaging companies have always relied on on-site support. The pandemic, though, made that infeasible, forcing industry players to switch to Remote Technical Assistance (RTA). Now, almost a year after the first quarantine measures were put into place in Europe, with many non-essential companies back to business, Remote Technical Assistance has proved to be a cornerstone of many B2B enterprises, enabling value creation in a way that was not possible before.
As new Industry 4.0 technologies take hold, such as Augmented Reality, AI and the Internet of Things, it becomes vital to provide access to these innovations in order to help the customer stay ahead of the competition. If this is important for packaging in general, it is crucial for aseptic carton packaging, where the sensitive nature of the materials and processes requires special attention. That’s why IPI offers a well-established portfolio of RTA solutions, ranging from installation and commissioning up to troubleshooting, training and production control. Higher client satisfaction, lower costs and quicker troubleshooting: for all these reasons - and more, Remote Technical Assistance is now key to all things packaging. Ultimately, COVID-19 only accelerated the evolution of technical assistance, unveiling the potential of RTA to improve the industry as a whole.
What follows is a case study where IPI has used Remote Technical Assistance to meet the needs of the MIBEM Group, a leading wine and liqueur manufacturer based in Ivory Coast with plants in Togo as well. Leveraging its own RTA portfolio, IPI was able to remotely support the client through the installation of two production lines in just 6 days.
The MIBEM Group case study: #1 Identifying the customer’s needs
The MIBEM Group has been a producer of wine and liqueur since 1989. Founded in Ivory Coast, the company has always focused on quality, putting the satisfaction and safety of their customers first. As of today, MIBEM Group's most recognizable brands are Châteaux de France and Rhum Calao, available in nine countries of the sub-region and unique in their peculiar taste. The company uses IPI's aseptic bricks for its wine and sangria and has had 3 lines installed in Ivory Coast since 2014 for two different formats: 250ml and 500ml.
In 2020, the MIBEM Group needed to install 2 NSA EVO lines - precisely, an additional one for 500 ml packaging and another for the premium 750ml SuperSlim. There were many reasons behind this choice: first, the necessity to increase the production output and ensure an orderly activity until pandemic's restrictions were in place. As the coronavirus spreaded rapidly throughout the world, this became urgent, as many clients of the MIBEM Group were looking for reassurance. Furthermore, several of them were searching for a wider portfolio of solutions and novel formats, such as IPI’s 750ml SuperSlim. Last but not least, since these 2 lines were the first ones at MIBEM Group’s new facility located in Grand Bassam, just outside Abidjan, capital of Ivory Coast, the remote installation would have coincided with the start of operations.
#2: How IPI was able to meet the customer's needs
Usually, IPI's personnel are present during the installation phase in the role of active, on-site supervisors. Despite that not being possible, IPI was still able to carry out the installation remotely, relying on its multiple RTA tools to enable the process.
After a preliminary analysis and risk assessment in which the client was also involved, IPI established a protocol of actions to perform. Then, it prepared a custom-made tutorial for the customer's needs and sent it to the client together with a few smart glasses. Taking advantage of the client's powerful Wi-Fi connection, IPI was able to schedule several video meetings through Microsoft Teams, which were instrumental for training the customer's line operators and managers. During the next couple of days IPI and the client did a run-through together, followed by the installation through and through.
Along the entire process, which took no more than 6 days, a team of IPI's technical experts based in Italy supervised the customer remotely, offering guidance in real-time through every step of the way. Also worth mentioning, IPI’s service engineer involved in the supervision was a French mother tongue, which let the customer speak freely in their own native language.
Of the many RTA technologies used by IPI, XMReality was instrumental in this case study. Short for XMReality Remote Guidance, this is an Augmented Reality tool that overlays visual information about the problem at hand on the line operator's smart glasses. Thanks to this innovative tool, the client and IPI can effectively share the same viewpoint, overcoming the main problem plaguing traditional remote support solutions, i.e. the difficulty to direct the customer's line of sight towards a specific part of the machine.
Ultimately, the pandemic has shown the world how important it is for an aseptic carton packaging company to have a reliable Remote Technical Assistance solution. Thanks to IPI's portfolio of Industry 4.0-ready RTA services, not only was the MIBEM Group able to carry out its day-to-day activities without any downtime, it also managed to expand its production line, reducing operating costs and increasing productivity. This was only possible thanks to IPI’s spirit of innovation and, most importantly, thanks to MIBEM Group's commitment, dedication and invaluable expertise.