In the last several months, we’ve directed a lot of attention to Atlantic’s headline investment of 2017 — the Packaging Solution Center. There’s a lot to be excited about with new opportunities for package testing and process automation, in a space that’s the first of its kind.
In light of all that’s new, we’re maintaining perspective into all avenues of our business by talking with our customers to learn what they value the most in their vendor relationships and what kind of opportunities they envision with the Solution Center as an added resource.
Pete Artemenko from Atlantic’s marketing team recently sat down with Mark Gossage, a customer with Stanley Black & Decker, who has worked closely with Atlantic sales rep. TJ Little for the last three years.
Mark told Pete that he finds value not only in opportunities the Packaging Solution Center can provide, like reducing risk and material cost, but also in other investments Atlantic makes to ensure process efficiency, technical support, and customer service.
These investments may not be as headline-worthy as the Packaging Solution Center, but for Mark, they’ve been just as valuable.
They’re part of Atlantic’s continuous commitment to investment, not only in research and development, but in the entire customer experience.
Interview with Mark Gossage
Pete Artemenko with Atlantic Packaging (PA): You’ve been at Stanley Black & Decker for about five years. You’ve been partnering with Atlantic and with TJ Little on some of your projects. Tell me a little bit about these projects.
Mark Gossage (MG): Back in 2013, when I was in the Stanley Leadership Program at Greenfield, we used to wrap with strapping and corner boards and our cost was about five dollars a pallet. By optimizing production through the use of Wulftec gears and partnering up with Atlantic, we dropped the cost down to about sixty-eight cents. So, with the amount of volume we did in the plant at that time, it was about $150,000 worth of savings for Stanley Black & Decker.
We did a similar project at our plant in Maryland and were able to cut our stretch film usage in half. We now only have purchase film once per year!
PA: How did you achieve 50% less usage?
MG: We used the Atlantic yellow high-performance film, and then we optimized the wrappers. This allowed us to use less ounces of film per pallet. We also did the same thing in our plant right outside of Montreal. The first wrapper we added was so successful, we actually added a second in that facility. We’ve also got conveyors with Atlantic.
Recently, we did a Kaizen event at our plant in Shelbyville, Kentucky.
PA: When you say Kaizen, what does that mean?
MG: It’s a lean, focused event. It comes from the Japanese word for continuous improvement— looking at a process, and how to improve it.
We teamed up with Atlantic because we knew there were many costs on the packaging material side, and there was also automation where we could pick different components to improve packaging and transport.
We broke into two different groups, one focused on getting savings from materials, and one on the equipment side that was focused on how to acquire and improve automation. Because Atlantic can actually do both, I think that was the first time a company partnered with us on both sides.
PA: Stanley Black & Decker represents a huge amount of volume, where one small change in optimizing efficiency represents huge cost savings. How does that get you excited about new partnerships and opportunities to create new cost savings?
MG: We have multiple plants around the United States.. We’re constantly growing — just like Atlantic.
Partnering with someone like Atlantic, it’s a little different than companies we’ve worked with in the past. Usually we partner with a materials company and a separate automation company. If something goes wrong with a label or a bag, they always point fingers at the other company. With Atlantic, you can do labels and equipment. So if something doesn’t print, or it doesn’t fit, or something else is wrong, there’s no one to point fingers at. It’s a one-stop shop. That aligns with a lot of our plants, where we’re becoming a more vertically integrated one-stop shop that focuses around efficiency.
PA: The best place for us to be at Atlantic is to be in a seat where we are accountable to the customers for their most critical applications. We want to be there because that’s where the most opportunity is, but also, we want to be in the fight with the customer. We want to be in this together.
MG: And it adds more value. Because instead of the customer feeling like we’re all alone, we’re actually in it with someone else next to us helping us solve the issues. It’s something that Atlantic can offer that some other companies can’t. The major difference is in being able to provide the equipment and the material. Other companies can’t do that.
PA: What are the pieces that come together for you on the Atlantic side that are valuable to you as a customer of Atlantic? Is there a specific project you have in mind?
There were two instances. With our Automatic Autobagger, we had Don Stewart, Mike Christie, Chip Bennett, and Nick Ott from Atlantic working on this. We had a hard deadline to have it up and running and these guys literally flew out there to fix the machine. All the Atlantic experts were there to make sure it was working.
We came in with the Factory Acceptance Test and there were issues that we found that had to be fixed. In a short timeframe, Atlantic disassembled, shipped, and reassembled the machine to have it fully operational..
The other instance was a Kaizen event. We had Eric Farmer and TJ Little from sales doing the material side. We had Chip Bennett, and we had Nick Ott on the equipment side. And we had transportation, where Atlantic actually created a warehouse next to our facility to do vendor-managed inventory only two miles away from our plant.
So instead of having to store all the extra labels and take storage spaces out of our plant, or having to wait for shipping all the way from Charlotte or Wilmington, the labels could be stored right down the street. It was vendor-managed inventory, so we would pay for it right when it hit our dock. It was very efficient and very beneficial for us.
PA: It’s really interesting talking to you about it to hear the customer side. One of the things we hear from leadership of the company is that we listen to the customer, we learn from the customer, and we invest in the customer. I see that in the just-in-time delivery, and like you said, that’s a huge deal.
MG: It is. It’s a great partnership and alignment. It allows our plants to use that square footage to keep growing, and as we keep growing, we keep buying more labels. So in the long run, there’s more room for building a bigger relationship with Atlantic as well.
PA: When you walk into the Packaging Solution Center, how does it make you feel as a customer of Atlantic? What are you excited about seeing?
MG: It will be very beneficial to have our products running on some of this equipment, and to see how some of those proposals that Chip and Nick make will actually work. Because there’s always a bit of a risk on our side, on the customer’s side, of how successful we think a change is going to be, how likely we are to get payback or savings, and what the rate is going to be. This will help us minimize risk on our end.
PA: Normally you have concept and proposal, to factory acceptance test. It’s not a big risk, but there’s nothing in between. This provides something in between.
MG: There’s normally a couple of months in between, so we base off a video, or a YouTube clip we get sent that shows what the machine is doing. Or it’s a complete concept. Like that Autobagger machine, there were a lot of moving pieces. It wasn’t an off the shelf item. There were a lot of custom pieces because we were retrofitting it to an existing piece of equipment. Since the heights were different, it made it sort of a custom job.
Well, that was a little bit harder to envision. It took a lot conference calls to be able to do those things. It’s one thing to kind of read about it, but then you have to hear about it and picture it in your head, so it’s a longer project.
So if we’re able to test at the Packaging Solution Center, it will be a lot easier to envision what we need it to do. That will turn around and help us complete the idea and move forward.
Thank you to Mark Gossage for sitting down and talking with us about all the nuances of your relationship with Atlantic. We learned a great deal about the challenges you face and the services that bring value to your operations.
Want to learn more? Here are some links for further reading and research:
- Packaging Solution Center
- Inventory Management Programs
- Automation and Integration
- Technical Service