There are many factors that go into the science of load containment and load stability. But among some of the most important factors we have to consider are those just outside of the scientific or engineering equation. These are the business factors of cost, performance, and sustainability.
At the Solution Center, we meet with customers in procurement who are super focused on cost. We meet with engineers and operators whose priority is to make sure their products get from one facility to the next without damage. And we meet with executives who are focused on meeting the goals of their Sustainability Program.
Our challenge is to balance each of these aspects – cost, performance, and sustainability – in a way that successfully meets all of these important business goals.
We’ve had times where customers came to us wanting to put their stretch film out to bid in an effort to purchase the least expensive material they can get. Often the cheapest film is thinner and lower quality in terms of the consistency of the film ( See: Commodity Grade Films vs. High Performance Stretch Film). Down gauging based on cost only can easily lead to load failure, increased cost because you try to use more film on every load, and unnecessary waste because of over-applied film and product damage.
A positive trend we’re seeing is that procurement and purchasing arms of companies are more aware of how stretch film will affect the manufacturing process, load stability, and product protection. They’re more concerned about the quality of the stretch film given the important role it plays in these areas. So there’s more internal collaboration between procurement and engineering to choose the best stretch film at the lowest cost.
We discussed in earlier articles how important it is to choose the right stretch film and to figure out the right application in order to protect your products during transit from facility to facility (See: Unpacking the Problem of Unit Load Damage). Engineers and operators who are hands-on with the stretch wrapping process are focused on load containment and load stability to ensure the products arrive on-time and intact. This successful performance eliminates re-working of orders, unnecessary waste, and dings on productivity and efficiency in their operation.
If they’re working with the cheapest possible film, they’re not going to get the capability in the material that they need to achieve this performance. So we need to balance the needs of cost with performance. Fortunately, as mentioned above, we are seeing more collaboration happening between engineering, operations, and purchasing. Our goal is to expand on that collaboration and bring all parties together for programs like our Stretch University and for testing in our Packaging Solution Center. This would bring everyone on board and deliver the best possible solution at the best possible cost and will ultimately benefit their company overall.
We’ve been talking a lot about sustainability in this Packaging Insights series because so many customers come to us with the goal of improving sustainability. Packaging is one area where they see a lot of potential for making improvements. And the great news is that, with our testing capabilities, we can often find proven solutions that require less packaging material while still protecting the products, thereby eliminating damage and unnecessary waste.
Many executives or marketing personnel are the guardians of their Sustainability Program. They’re monitoring how it’s carried out, how they are meeting goals, and how successful the program is overall. This is a critical business goal and, fortunately, we can often make improvements while still balancing the other goals of cost and performance.
From our position working with all these teams and helping to find the path between cost, performance, and sustainability, we understand that these are not easy conversations to have. In some cases, they may question the very nature of how you operate. Seemingly different or even opposing priorities are at play.
But what we can do at the Solution Center is prove that when we’re wrapping a load, we can do it cost efficiently while demonstrating that the dynamics of how well the load will survive the supply chain environment is also being covered. These are not opposing issues. We can find a balance where all parties will be working toward their goals.
We’ve found that common education on these dynamics as well as involvement by all parties in the testing process itself can help everyone to get on the same page and work together to achieve their goals.
If you’re trying to find the balance between cost, performance, and sustainability, reach out to us today to schedule a visit to the Packaging Solution Center and see how we can help.