The AirSpeed® HC (hybrid cushioning) Versa™ system produces inflated pad widths of 12, 18 and 24-inches via a compact dispenser head. It can also produce three different cell heights: small (3/4-inch), medium (1-inch) and large (1-1/4 inches). The unit is used in conjunction with HC-Flex, a 100% recyclable high performance low-density polyethylene air pillow film that is made with 30% less resin than competitive hybrid inflatable cushioning alternatives.
Loose-fill created undesirable mess at the plant
Customer and retailer dissatisfaction
Use of the HC Versa
Significantly improved customer satisfaction and retention
A Midwestern distributor of housewares had been a long-time use of polystyrene loose fill from FP International. The loose fill was used in conjunction with a bulk air conveying system, which provided operators with hoses to dispense the peanuts into the cases.
Although the system was fast, low cost and protected the company’s shipments, there were two main problems:
- The loose-fill created undesirable mess at the plant
- The company’s customers—retailers—would repeatedly complain about similar litter and disposal problems
These two strong negatives (the mess and customer complaint issues) were the drivers for the company to consider an alternative form of protective packaging. An IPS packaging specialist recognized the opportunity to conduct a “packaging value analysis” to help find a solution to the problem. A detailed evaluation of the packaged products, packing process, current costs and efficiency (speed, shipment weight, cost, protection, ease-of-use, etc.) was completed.
Having thoroughly reviewed the operation, it was determined that the HC Versa system (producing 24- inch pads with medium height bubble) would be the appropriate solution to trial. A roll winder was added to each unit to create bundles that could then be easily transported to the pack stations, and mounted on a custom bundle dispenser for operator use. The packaging application mandated protection on all six sides of the case. So, the pack solution was to lay two pads across the top flaps of the shipper in a cross pattern, place the housewares items on top and allow the pads to sink into the bottom, enveloping the contents on all sides. (Each case is actually a master shipper. Multiple products, some already in small shipping cartons, are co-mingled in the pack.)
Two units were tested for 60 days, scoring positive results for a variety of attributes including cleanliness and ease-of handling. The company made the decision to add five more HC Versa systems to serve 14 pack stations and complete a full conversion from loose fill. The analysis showed that the HC Versa solution was an average of 5 cents or 7% more expensive per pack. However, the significantly improved customer satisfaction and retention, coupled with the DC experience made the modest cost increase acceptable. This green lighted the conversion.