Packaging Corporation of America (PCA) has called attention to the importance of factory acceptance tests (FATs) in the procurement process, calling them “an often overlooked but critical step”.

A FAT is jointly conducted by a manufacturer and buyer to determine which machinery complies with their contractual agreements and meets standard performance and safety requirements.

There are typically three categories: components, safety and performance. These are driven by the buyer’s requirements and the goal is to optimise equipment’s performance before installation.

The benefits of FATs are lower costs compared to repairing and returning equipment to manufacturers and reducing installation and startup time.

PCA advises that packaging companies refrain from skipping or rushing through FATs to cut costs or meet deadlines.

The company operates a Performance Packaging Group (PPG) to develop and execute FATs. This can adjust calibration settings and analyse the performance of a machine and product specifications.

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PPG general manager Randy Thompson commented: “Since boxes in today’s distribution environment undergo multiple ‘touches,’ you want to ensure that they’ll maintain integrity through automatic and manual handling.”

PCA posted a net income of $146.9m for the first quarter of the financial year 2024. The company expects strong demand and higher shipments of corrugated products and containerboard.