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We all know that product damage during transit can wreak havoc on your operations, on your budget, and on your brand reputation.

Sometimes, even when you have the best quality control processes with tracking, transparency, and inspections throughout your operations, you may still experience claims of damage to your product during shipping.  And this can be detrimental to your brand for a number of reasons.  It costs critical time on the project; it costs a significant amount of money; and it can negatively affect your reputation.

Prevent Damage Before It Starts

This is what our customer, Kitchen Cabinet Distributors (KCD), was trying to prevent as their company was growing and they were shipping more products further distances using LTL transit.

KCD is a long-time Atlantic customer, relying on us for day-to-day supply solutions, excellent customer service, and reliability in getting what they need, when they need it.  As their customer-base continued to grow and expand to further locations, they knew they had to evaluate their packaging process to ensure that their cabinets would survive the rigors of LTL transit.

The top priority for KCD is to deliver on the excitement and joy that a new kitchen brings to a home. Their end customers invest a great deal of time and money in getting a new kitchen. KCD wants to come through with a flawless product, on time and as expected.  Any issues with damage could delay the project and cost additional time and money.  It could even cost them the customer if the contractor decided to skip the returns and just buy from someone else.

Evaluate to Improve the Process

With the goal of continuously improving their packaging operation, KCD turned to Atlantic and the testing capabilities at the Packaging Solution Center to help evaluate and improve their process. We came in with a consultative approach to their current operation.  Our packaging engineers visited the KCD facility to see their process firsthand, to learn about their existing capabilities, and to understand the why and how of what they were doing.  It’s critical that any solution we come up with at the Solution Center can be replicated in the customer’s facility.

In this particular case, our engineers saw that KCD was using recycled and re-purposed pallets. These were presenting issues with inconsistent load stability and flaws such as nails poking through, threatening to harm the product.  They also saw that they were wrapping with hand film which adds another element of inconsistency.

Test & Quantify to Find the Solution

At the Solution Center, we set out to replicate their current conditions and quantify how much – and exactly what – damage was occurring in transit.  LTL can present extreme challenges with various handlers and transfers, loading and unloading, where product damage can occur at any stage.  We used the TruMotion Impact Sled to replicate handling with forklifts and the TruMotion Transportation Simulator to see what was happening to the loads out on the road.  We invited Glen Wegel, VP of Operations at KCD, and Seth Hayes, KCD Director of Operations, to the Solution Center during testing so they could watch up close how their loads were responding.

“Seeing our loads on the vibration table has been a game changer for us,” remarked Seth. “It allows us to really see what our pallets go through while in transit.”

The solutions in this case were to introduce a hexcomb sheet over the pallet to provide a stable and more consistent surface to support the load. We also showed how using a stretch wrap machine to wrap the unit loads, as opposed to hand wrapping, was more effective in stabilizing the load and keeping it secured and in place on the pallet.

Strive for Continuous Improvement

KCD, always striving for improvement and excellence in their operations, has strict quality control processes in place at all stages of their operations. They can now add this advanced level of testing, monitoring, and validating results to show their customers just how committed they are to quality and service.

“In a competitive market space with something as delicate and expensive as cabinetry, contractors won’t even tell me that they don’t want to buy my cabinets anymore if they can’t get them damage- and defect-free,” says Glen. “They’ll just buy them from somebody else. So I can’t afford to have a misstep in my business where my cabinets arrive damaged.  This is where it’s important to ensure that we’re not only using the best in class packaging, but we’re monitoring it and we’re continuing to improve our processes by testing the way that we ship.  Bringing our product into Atlantic’s Solution Center not only validated what we were doing, but it helped give us new ideas to make it even better.”

If you’re experiencing product damage in transit – or if you want to ensure that you won’t experience damage – contact us to schedule a visit to the Packaging Solution Center today and see how we can help improve and validate your packaging process.