Novinky z 21.05.2014

Storopack collaborates with distributor for new protective packaging solution

Better performance, lower costs

The American company Baker & Taylor has a rich tradition as a distributor of books, videos and music. In Autumn 2012, the company started working with a new protective packaging solution from Storopack at its Indianapolis distribution centre. Since then, its total packaging costs have fallen by 40 percent. This above-average improvement is the result of a comprehensive package of action: including an audit, a process cost analysis and on-site testing.

Every day, Baker & Taylor ships between 2,000 and 5,000 packages (depending on seasonal variations) to bookshops and retailers. For a number of years, the company has used single-ply paper for protective packaging. The machinery for this was positioned in line right beside the conveyor belt. Workers operated a foot switch to cut off the desired length from the strips of padding. They then used both hands to push the paper into the package.

The quality of the paper used for protection in transit was satisfactory. However, other factors did not meet current requirements. Workers found it difficult to place the packaging material into the packages at the required speed. This was exacerbated by the cramped and inflexible configuration of the workstations. These constraints became increasingly problematic, particularly at peak times. The result was mistakes in how the protective packaging was used, paper poorly distributed in the package, or not enough paper put in.

Baker & Taylor decided to turn to Storopack, a specialist in protective packaging. The project started with an audit of the distribution centre. This used Storopack’s questionnaire, developed specifically for protective packaging solutions, to capture the physical audit data. The supplementary management audit was based on mutually-agreed statements about the client’s objectives.

The audit confirmed the customers initial thoughts that the packaging process was poorly set up. On average, each worker needed eleven hand movements to complete the protective packaging for one pack.

The Storopack team observed difficulties in the activation of the foot pedal. The required movements disrupted the packing workflow. In addition, workers could not dispense the right quantity of paper very accurately. This configuration was evidently no longer the best solution for Baker & Taylor.

Evaluation of the audit showed how inconsistently the completed protective packaging turned out. With comparable contents, sometimes there was more paper, sometimes less. Equally, the time to pack a single shipmentwith protective packaging varied when typically it should be about the same.

The protective packaging and its process did not allow for standardisation. Moreover, the absence of standards gave more importance to subjective decisions, and increased the error rate. This also meant that Baker & Taylor could not calculate the materials and labour costs per box for protective packaging.

Thus the three highest-priority management objectives were:

  • Improved ergonomics
  • Increased productivity
  • Reduced materials use and cost per box, maintaining the same quality of protective packaging

Using the audit, the Storopack team set out the optimal requirements for developing a radically improved solution. Through many meetings with the specialists at the main Cincinnati Design Centre, the project team perfected a plan for integration based on PAPERplus® Chevron.

In August, the solution went for practical tests. For these, Storopack set up one packing station in the distribution centre. The machine system installed was one of the PAPERplus® Chevron2 inline series.

In automatic mode, the machine produces single paper pads, delivered down a short metal slide to lie within reach of the packer. The packer can remove paper pads with both hands to place them in the box. The on-demand unit then automatically replenishes the pad supply.

PAPERplus® Chevron paper padding offers very good bulk which quickly fills voids. Packers do not need to push the packaging down as much as they did with the flat paper strip of the previous packaging solution.

In the first tests, the individual strip of paper pads initially had a length of 24 inches. This corresponded to a prediction of four pads per box. It was shown that the void would be filled more quickly using five shorter pads per shipment.

The difference between the test installation and the previous solution became clear. Since workers do not have to waste time compressing the packaging, the process is quicker. They can place one strip of pads with each hand, instead of using both hands together to push a pad into the void. They do not have to worry about the machine cycle, as paper pads are produced on-demand. As a result, workers are around 25 percent faster at the packing station.

PAPERplus® Chevron fulfils the requirements for padding performance and void filling with less paper. This in turn results in reduced handling costs. But above all, it means a significant weight reduction. Packages are around 30 percent lighter. Less paper also means less resource consumption.

The numbers added up, and the team’s response was also positive, according to Tyler Baumgardner, Operations Manager at Baker & Taylor: “We all experienced how simple, functional and flexible the solution is. After we instructed Storopack to install the system, it couldn’t come quickly enough. Whoever saw their colleague’s new workstation wanted the same comfort as quickly as possible.”

Workers were pleased to do away with the foot pedal. In the previous configuration, this control resulted in an uncomfortable posture. They now have more freedom to organise their workstations. The small footprint of the PAPERplus® Chevron2 system gave further space to rearrange the monitor, labeller and printer as required at the pack stations.

Today, all eight packing stations are equipped with PAPERplus® Chevron. Baumgardner’s summary: “We met all our objectives. Ergonomics and productivity improved and total protective packaging costs fell. Instead of the 18 percent that Storopack promised, the actual figure was over 40 percent.”


[Additional information]
Baker & Taylor
Baker & Taylor is a leading distributor of books, videos and music, supplying bookshops and retailers. For over 180 years, the company has been a dependable partner for publishers, film studios and music labels. Baker & Taylor has over 36,000 clients in over 120 countries. Around 385,000 titles are available from stock. In addition, over 1.5 million titles can be ordered.

[Additional information]
PAPERplus® Chevron paper padding
PAPERplus® Chevron paper padding means less paper is needed to fill voids in a package. This is demonstrated by the bulking ability of pleated paper tube. The cushioning effect of the compressed tube offers very good padding even for medium-to-heavy products. The strip of pads can be shaped flexibly, and is readily adaptable to different packing techniques. It can easily be separated with perforations every 7cm.

[Additional information]
Perfect Protective Packaging
The demand for performance and productivity continues to increase. For this reason, Storopack regularly reviews its clients’ protective packaging solutions. If this analysis reveals a need for improvement, a new solution is designed, tested and implemented. The aim is “Perfect Protective Packaging”: the client’s protective packaging process always achieves the highest possible level of performance.