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Two Steps to Sustainability

Two Steps to Sustainability

One of the top business priorities for our customers is sustainability.  While you each have your own unique sustainability goals and strategies, there are a number of similarities in what you’re looking to achieve.  In the packaging space, you want to know how you can make your primary packaging recyclable or more environmentally friendly.  This includes cartons, pouches, bags, clamshells, bottles, and cans. 

You also want to know how you can make your manufacturing processes and materials used more earth-friendly.  This includes shrink bundling, stretch wrapping, and strapping.  It also includes optimizing logistics to reduce activity around trucking and transit.

At the Packaging Solution Center and with our work in stretch wrapping (see: MUST Stretch Management System), we’ve found a two-step solution to improving sustainability across the board.

1. Make sure that your manufactured goods arrive to the customer safely and securely.  Any damage that occurs in transit leads to lost product, excess waste, more trucking and logistics, re-working orders, and more materials used in the end.  Damaged product is inherently unsustainable.   If we can help you get your products to their destination safely, that’s the most sustainable impact we can have.

2. Optimize the amount of material being used. While we need to apply stretch film to create stable unit loads, we want to do so in the most efficient way possible. We may be able to down gauge, reduce the number of wraps, or apply more film ONLY to the areas where it’s needed on the load.  We’re always looking for the solution with the lowest material usage.

While these steps are complex and themselves involve a number of steps, you can point to these two goals as the centerpiece of a sustainable end-of-the-line packaging solution.

Want to see how you can improve your packaging to become more sustainable?  Schedule a tour of the Packaging Solution Center today.

Bringing the Experts Together

Bringing the Experts Together

When we built the Packaging Solution Center in Charlotte in 2017, we were so excited to bring testing equipment together with integrated packaging lines, automated machines, and a full e-commerce fulfillment area.  We were also beyond excited to have the very first TruMotion Multi-Axis Transportation Simulator available in the packaging industry.

All this represented an incredible opportunity, not just for us, but for all players in the industry – from manufacturers and vendors, to customers and end-users.  We had a goal of establishing packaging standards that would eliminate damage, protect products, and establish confidence in the process.  

To reach that goal, we understood that the Solution Center had to be a hub for all parties to come together to test, analyze, and verify results that would be the most successful for every unique case that comes through.  Fortunately, the relationships we developed over the years with our customers and with our vendor partners proved strong enough to allow this kind of collaboration in the space.

We recognize the expertise of our partners in a variety of areas – stretch film, shrink film, strapping, tertiary packaging, etc. (See: How To Navigate the Complexities of Packaging).  Bringing these experts together with our own internal resources lets us tap into the collective knowledge in how all these pieces will perform together. 

This is the key to how we’re going to successfully solve packaging challenges. It aligns with our customer-focused approach and impacts the movement toward smarter packaging and greater sustainability.

The Most Sustainable Thing We Can Do in Stretch Packaging

The Most Sustainable Thing We Can Do in Stretch Packaging

Becoming sustainable means much more than checking a box for big corporations.  Executives and employees are aware of conversations around earth-friendly practices and products, of consumers’ sensitivity to recyclable and sustainably sourced products, and to their own measurable impact on the world stage of sustainability.

Sustainability initiatives are good for people, good for the environment, and good for business.

STEPS TO BECOMING MORE SUSTAINABLE

There are a number of specific steps companies can take to improve their sustainability.  First, you can develop a business case for your sustainability initiatives. This will help leaders communicate the goals and strategies with clear and positive outcomes for the business.

You can assess and audit your own internal practices of recycling and promoting green practices within the company.

If building or expanding, you can look into repurposing existing space or investing in LEED-certified building practices.

You can audit your energy usage and look for ways to be more energy efficient.

You can examine your supply chain and find opportunities for greater sustainability throughout.

WHAT ABOUT YOUR PRODUCT PACKAGING?

Packaging is often pinpointed as an opportunity where companies can reduce their footprint (See: Finding Our Way to Greener Packaging).

Using less material, whether on the primary packaging – like the bottle or carton – or with the secondary packaging – like the stretch, shrink, strapping, and cornerboard – seems an obvious place to improve sustainability. This is often true.  But if not done with a scientific approach that shows exactly how much you can reduce before jeopardizing the integrity of the packaging, these reductions can actually cause damage and waste far beyond what you saved in the first place.

In our work with stretch packaging and unit load testing at the Packaging Solution Center, we’ve found that the most sustainable thing we can possibly do is to make sure that manufactured goods arrive to the customer safely and securely.  The second any damage occurs, you have unsaleable product.  And that’s unsustainable. The transit and the energy required to either fix or repair those products is also unsustainable.

See also: The Big Picture of Sustainable Packaging

So, our first priority for you is to make sure that your product itself is protected as it travels from point to point.  This allows you to avoid rework, restocking, and repairs that are inefficient, expensive, and unsustainable.

If you’re interested in learning how you can reduce your packaging in a way that’s optimal and effective for both your product and your sustainability goals, schedule a visit to the Packaging Solution Center today and meet with our experts.

Not All Films Are Equal

Not All Films Are Equal

Choosing the right film for your packaging is not as easy as picking a roll off the shelf.  From the outside, most films look the same. It can be difficult to appreciate what sets a high performance film apart from a commodity film (See: Commodity Grade Films vs. High Performance Stretch Film) – and why you’re paying more for that film.

In reality, not all films are equal.

At our Packaging Film Lab, we can quantify for you the value of the film you’re choosing.  We can evaluate the properties of the film, match those properties with the needs of your application, and then test on the TruMotion Transportation Simulator and Braking & Impact Sled.  

We’ll provide you with an inside look at your film, giving you confidence that what you’re choosing is the exact right film for your operation.

How To Navigate the Complexities of Packaging

How To Navigate the Complexities of Packaging

There’s a prevailing myth out there that stretch packaging is a fairly simple process.  So much time, energy, and money has been invested in the primary packaging, the sales, inventory, and logistics, and now you need to get it wrapped up and out the door. 

Shine it and ship it, as they say.

Well, our packaging engineers beg to differ. With their top-to-bottom understanding of the science of stretch wrapping – from the film properties, to the stack pattern, to the machine settings and application – they’ve set out to correct this misconception. And what they’ve learned in the last decade working with our customers – not to mention in the last 2 years working at the Packaging Solution Center – is that when it comes to stretch wrapping, it’s not always all about stretch wrapping!

More than a Band-Aid Solution

We’ve been stretch film people from the beginning. We thought we could solve most of our customers’ unit load issues with stretch film alone. But with the testing we’re doing at the Packaging Solution Center, we’ve learned  that there are a number of different factors that add up to a solution all together.

We’re looking at shrink film and shrink bundling; at stack patterns and pallet quality; and at material and equipment conditions at the customer facility to make sure it’s easy for our customer to implement the packaging solution we came up with.  In addition to performance and load stability, we’re also looking at the impacts of packaging on sustainability and cost (See: The Balancing Act of Cost, Performance & Sustainability).

As our Lead Packaging Engineer, Kyle Pischel, remarked, “If we don’t consider each of those factors carefully, we end up trying to create a band-Aid solution in just one area of the entire unit load.”

So as we continue to test and to learn new insights with each case study, we’ve started to open up to possibilities about the other factors in play that can ultimately hurt or help load stability (See: The Big Picture of Sustainable Packaging).  We’re also continuing to invest in new testing equipment that will help us gather the data we need to analyze those factors.

This approach together with our testing capabilities allows us to look more systematically at how we can improve each component individually as well as the entire unit load as a whole. 

Flipping the Script on Load Stability

Flipping the Script on Load Stability

A practice has developed in stretch wrapping where products are stacked inside the pallet so they’re not flush with the edge.  The intention with this inboard pattern is to protect the product by using the pallet as a barrier while it’s handled on forklifts and moves in and out of racking. 

However, this practice has made it harder to apply the stretch film, specifically around the bottom of the load.  And the stretch film – when it’s applied properly – is ultimately what will protect the products from damage.

So this is where we’re flipping the script.  We want to stress the importance of creating an environment where you can successfully apply stretch film at appropriate tensions to protect the load.  The practice of inboarding, while intended to protect the product, is actually leading to load failure and load instability.

Let’s start the conversation early.  We’re here to help you protect your product and protect your brand. To do that, we have to eliminate load damage and load failure.  And that process begins long before stretch film is ever applied.  We need to consider primary package design, stack patterns, product variety, sustainability goals and other factors in determining the best way to protect your product.

Come visit us at the Packaging Solution Center to learn more about the strategies we use to make sure you have successfully wrapped loads time after time.