A third-party logistics (3PL) company in the Midwest has been using equipment from two different manufacturers to create protective packaging options for its various customers.
The company had been using FP’s pillow packer (24-inch wide clear inflated bubble) and Ranpak’s FillPack paper dunnage machine. Although they weren’t particularly pleased with the paper machines (their bulky footprint made them difficult to place and move around to accommodate changing pack requirements), they weren’t really looking to replace what they had. However, the Pregis distributor thought it might make sense to do a cost-analysis to see if a better solution could be provided.
Sometimes a show and tell works better than simply providing the numbers. To prove a point, the account manager took 20 feet of the inflated FP material and placed it on the production floor. Next to it, he placed an identical amount of material produced on an AirSpeed HC Versa unit.
Both 20 foot lengths were rolled up into bundles. Because the FP material is 5/8-inch high vs. the 1-inch HC Versa profile—and because row inflation failure is a common occurrence with the FP material—Pregis was able to visually show the decision makers that you need a significant amount of additional FP materials to get the same end result. When the pack out analysis was done, the results showed that Pregis could reduce material usage by 33%, while providing added protection.
Then, the AirSpeed Smart3 air pillow system was presented as an alternative to the Ranpak paper dunnage machine. The expanded roll capacity of the Smart3 can produce a larger air pillow. This 10” wide x 8” long air pillow was able to show approximately 15% material usage reduction as compared to the 30″ wide x 1660′ long paper void fill the customer was currently using.
The material itself was also a selling point. The 3PL was looking for a way to improve its environmental profile and was particularly sensitive to replacing paper dunnage with a plastic-based alternative. As a result, they are running 24-inch medium HC Renew film on the HC Versa and EP Flex Renew void fill film on the Smart machines to address this concern.
Further, the smaller footprint meant easier placement and movement, coupled with ergonomic advantages for the workforce. To accommodate the customer’s tight work stations, we installed overhead dispensing units. In some areas, a conveyor comes down at a 45 degree angle and we were able to modify the dispenser stands to fit into the smaller space. The uniformity of dispensing solutions at all pack stations is a big advantage for the customer.