Get the Skinny on FAT's

FAT or Factory Acceptance Testing is usually preformed on an industrial machine at the place of manufacture, prior it to shipping to a customer. In the presence of the customer, the manufacturer tests the system in accordance with the customer’s pre-determined criteria and specifications to show that the system is complete, tested, and ready to be delivered to the customer for installation at their facility. With focus and detail in mind, a successful FAT can be the difference between a successful machine integration and unnecessary frustration as the customer struggles with their equipment before they gain any benefit from it. At PAC Machinery, we understand the value of a thorough FAT. We aim to have every machine we sell deliver a dependable return on investment from the day it is delivered.

Begin by providing PAC with detailed test criteria in advance
The FAT offers an invaluable opportunity to test the machine you purchased from us with the actual product you intend to package. It’s also the last chance to make sure the packaging material you wish to use works properly before you make a major commitment to a specific material. The performance criteria should be prepared by the end-user well in advance, and submitted to us along with your request for quote (RFQ). With this detailed information, we can quote accurately and configure a machine with all the necessary options required to do the job. As many (but not all) of our machines are custom-configured, they will not perform as expected if the criteria and specifications aren’t clearly delineated in advance. FAT criteria can be as simple or comprehensive as you wish – and the results of the FAT will mirror your criteria. We often receive a brief, one-page document outlining package size, packaging speed, and what material is being considered to achieve the desired results. At other times we receive an extremely detailed document covering every aspect of the machine operation ranging from packaging capacity, speed and performance to ergonomics, safety and environmental impact. At PAC Machinery, we are prepared to address any and all such requirements.

The perfect time for failure
Though it almost never happens, FAT is the ideal time to discover problems, verify speeds, test materials, and understand how to mitigate failures – all in the presence of the customer. As the FAT is generally performed at our place of manufacture, we have experts on hand who are prepared to make adjustments or modifications quickly and easily. It is our sincere desire to deliver a machine that is thoroughly tested, fine-tuned, and ready for years of continuous service.

Include the entire team – especially the machine operators and technicians
If the machine was purchased through one of our reseller partners, we like to include them and their technical staff – as well as the end user – in the FAT process. More importantly, we like to focus on the personnel who will actually be responsible for running and maintaining the machines. Sending an engineer to attend the FAT is perfectly acceptable, but it is the machine operator who will need to become familiar with the nuances of the machine and how to get the most out of it day in and day out. Production staff, who will actually run the equipment are uniquely qualified to make observations beyond the written specifications and can sometimes recognize issues or potential difficulties prior to delivery. These issues tend to be easily resolved as part of the FAT process. The FAT is an empowering opportunity for everybody included. Engaging the production team early in the process is one of the most important aspects of integrating new equipment successfully.

Basic training
At PAC, basic machine maintenance and operational training is provided as part of our onsite FAT. We endeavor to train and educate the people who are responsible for the daily operation of the packaging machine. We teach how to remove a warn part, how to replace common parts, how to load packaging material – plus, we describe machine operation in a detailed, easy-to-use document. The FAT gives us an opportunity to teach and practice material changeovers, size adjustments as well as start-up, shutdown and safety procedures. In addition to the basic FAT training, we also offer a training program that is conducted at the customer’s facility. Though we charge a fee for this service, the training is extremely comprehensive and may include as many persons at the production facility as the customer chooses. If desired, customers may utilize both our onsite FAT (which is included in the price of the machine) and our fee-based installation and/or training program performed at their facility.

Expect the unexpected
A thorough FAT exposes potential issues the customer might experience in real time. This is the point to fully assess the machine, and running it for an extended period of time at production speed is essential. Here you can discover small vacuum leaks, software issues, or other small problems – most requiring very simple remedies that can be performed on the spot, quickly. Packaging equipment can be complex so close attention to the fine adjustments made at the FAT stage are a sound “investment” in terms of time and effort. Adjustments can be explained, demonstrated and taught to the machine operator quickly and at no cost.

We teach safety
Joined by our customer, we complete a detailed demonstration of the equipment from a safety point of view. Since any industrial equipment can be hazardous to some degree, we always point out areas of high temperature, pinch points, and potential danger. We engineer our equipment to be very safe – plus we ensure all magnetic switches and emergency stops are fully functional. We test for functionality in all our built-in safety components.

It’s the right time to take your time
We encourage customers to relax and take plenty of time to complete the FAT – especially on highly customized machines. Some test sessions will be more demanding than others. For example, high-speed testing can be difficult due to the sheer volume of product needed for the test. We think it’s a bad idea to trade away adequate factory testing to meet a deadline. Issues not caught and remediated at FAT can result in longer, more challenging start-ups, potential lost productivity and avoidable aggravation.

Avoid short cuts
A successful FAT is in everybody’s interest, but most packaging machinery distributors do not have facilities set up to perform a comprehensive FAT. Duplicating a customer’s process can be difficult, time consuming and expensive for the distributor. Increasingly, customers are encouraged to view a video showing that the machine actually runs before it leaves our manufacturing facility. We can provide this service using our web-enabled “Live Demo” technology. That being said, smart customers will want a comprehensive FAT and training in our facility before the machine ships. And if purchased through one of our reseller partners, we encourage the distributor and his/her service technician to attend as well.

At your FAT, we will offer:

  • A systematic, step-by-step operating protocol
  • Maintenance tips, user training and users’ manuals (including specific machine settings)
  • Spare parts and/or tool kit (optional)
  • Certificates of compliance (as required)
  • Technical drawings (electrical, mechanical & pneumatic)
  • Calibration (as required)

The purpose of the FAT is to affirm that your machine runs your product, using your materials, to your pre-determined specifications, in as close as we can get to your operating environment. After successfully achieving the FAT your machine moves to our shipping department where it is carefully crated and prepared for delivery anywhere around the globe.

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