Friday, December 12, 2014

Packaging Fail - How not to unload a Truck

Packaging and material handling are everyday activities when they go as planned, but there are always special occurrences and variances to normal processes and events in your supply chain.

Check out the following video of pallet jack material handling dock truck unloading gone amiss.

That is quite the pallet jack fail, hopefully the operator was not harmed too much.  Most certainly the impacts on the product and packaging in that stretch wrapped unit load saw forces above and beyond that in your normal ISTA or ASTM test protocol.

Just proves that you probably can't ever afford "Zero Damage" in your supply chain, but finding that balance is still the biggest trick.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

You're Invited: UW-Stout Packaging Alumni Social @ Pack Expo 2014

Please join us at the UW-Stout Packaging Alumni Reception being held during Pack Expo International 2014!  The event will be a great opportunity for you to reconnect with classmates, network with your fellow alumni in the packaging industry, and meet some of the current program faculty and students. 


UW-Stout Packaging Alumni Social
Tuesday, November 4th @ 6:30PM

The Metropolitan Club223 South Wacker DriveWillis Tower, 67th FloorChicago, IL 60606

Get it on your calendar and register in advance at
The cost is $20 per alumni or $10 for Students!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Reader Mailbag: ECT vs Burst, where is the data?

Reader Mailbag: Chainalytics Packaging Engineers Answer Your Questions!

Dan writes:

We came across your previous blog article and hoped that you might be able to help us out with a data question. Our product is shipped in a double-wall, corrugated box. We’ve seen a hundred versions of the following table comparing the bursting test and edge crush test standards: 

We’re familiar with the two types of testing, and we’re sure that the table is accurate. What we can’t seem to find is the data behind the table, or even a national regulation or standard that supports it. Can you help explain?

Dan, great question!  We established some basics on this a few years ago when we explained the difference between Mullen grade (burst) and ECT board in this blog entry. We did some additional digging in attempt to tackle Dan’s question head on, and find that data source he was searching for. However, all references we identified only had the comparative table noted as an approximation.

The paper combinations for both board types are driven by the paper weights available from the corrugator’s own mills or through purchasing from a third party. Most corrugators utilize their own special blend of paper combinations to meet ECT requirements, and can vary by region or even by plant. This allows the corrugators flexibility to use a wide variety of paper combinations to achieve the minimum ECT requirements, while minimizing costs.

Mullen grade board however requires a more exact combination of papers with one or two heavier weight liners to meet the burst strength requirements. 

In general, ECT and Burst are not an apples to apples to comparison, and are not intended to be. Both utilize different grades of paper and different combinations for their own unique purposes.   There is a reason ECT boards are less expensive, because there is less paper there.  So in a true static compression test, this table reflects their approximated equivalents based on compression, but that may not reflect your package’s performance in your supply chain.

The one steadfast answer to get to the bottom of it all is to test your boxes and determine their burst and ECT characteristics as well as simulated lab distribution testing.   Mullen board can often have similar or better performance that it’s comparative ECT counterpart, but the only way to truly know is to test it!

Thanks for your question!
by Rob Kaszubowski, CPP

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Get Your Millions Back!

by Rich Lindgren, CPP

You may remember a few months back that H&R Block wanted to help all us Tax Payers get our Billion dollars back from mistakes made by doing our own federal tax returns.  Well, that got me thinking about all the money that will be left on the table by companies and individuals that will keep making the same mistakes they have been making come January 1, 2015 as it pertains to shipping single parcel.

For those of you that have not heard, UPS & FedEx will both be applying dimensional weight to all ground shipments, not just those over 3 cubic feet and air shipments.  So what does that mean to you?  Bloomberg and others estimate that the cost to the industry will be $350 million or more.  When you head out to the shipping department at your company, if you see anything that resembles the picture collage below, there is a good chance your company will be one of the ones effected with this multi-million dollar cost increase.

If your company has a single parcel shipping area like this, you probably are at risk!
H&R Block estimates that there about 11 million returns divvying up that Billion, which only comes out to around $460 per incorrect return, which is nice for an individual, but for a company, that is pocket change for most.  When it comes to single parcel charges, there are more like a few thousand companies that will burden the brunt of this $350 million dollar industry hit. For some companies, this will cost them hundreds of thousands of dollars if they don't do something about it.  Regardless, it's your money, Chainalytics wants you to get it back!

Traditionally, companies have erred on the side of operation efficiency and reducing the number of boxes to inventory for their single parcel packing lines.  That strategy will prove to be quite costly going forward.  Currently you would be often sacrificing a few pennies of corrugated box costs to make things go fast and easy, now those decisions will add up to dollars in a hurry with dimensional freight charges.  Not to mention the dissatisfied and irritated customers that are tired of receiving over sized boxes with little product and lots of air pillows.
This example of office supplies of a box that dimensions 14"x10"x5" that weighed 1lb will now bill out  at 5lbs under new rules.  Likely cost impact on this shipment is 50 cents or more, times hundreds of shipments like this every day and you have a big problem!
If you want to run some scenarios on your own shipments, feel free to use our free calculator from a previous blog entry.

That being said, this doesn't have to be all doom and gloom, there is a way out or to at least minimize this cost increase.  It all starts with right sizing and/or optimizing your packaging and over packaging strategies for single parcel.  

Not sure how to do that, feel free to reach out to our Packaging Experts at Chainalytics -

We can help you reduce your shipping costs and at the same time reduce your sustainability foot print.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Chromatografting: A New Water Repelling Technology for Corrugated?

FMIC Premium Analytics
By Eric Carlson, CPP 
The best and worst feature of paper is its ability to absorb and retain water.  The paper making process is a water intensive operation that allows us to make paper efficiently and also allows us to recycle paper and corrugated materials.  There are many products we count on every day for their water absorbing properties; in particular for personal hygiene.  However, for those of us involved in the packaging and the supply chain, water and water vapor causes trouble by weakening corrugated and other paper products. 

Corrugated is the most common material used for making shipping boxes and moisture can weaken the strength of the box very quickly and dramatically.  Cranking up the relative humidity to 80% reduces stacking strength by one third.  If the corrugated gets wet, stacking strength is virtually ZERO.  Liquid water can also cause sufficient cosmetic damage to cause the box to be unsaleable whether the product inside damaged or not.  This is why it is so important to keep your corrugated boxes dry in your supply chain. 

There are coatings for corrugated materials, some better than others.  I have had countless cups of coffee in paper cups, but the reason the cup holds together is because the inside, and sometimes the outside is lined with polyethylene.  The polyethylene coating keeps my coffee cup from becoming a soggy mess in my hand, but makes the cup very UN-friendly to the paper recycling process. 

There have been many efforts in the past to come up with a new way to make the paper water resistant and still work in the repulping operations that converts post-consumer fiber material back into paper.  The most common coatings used today use water based chemistry to coat an entire side (flood coat) of material (paper or corrugated) using a wet roller and controlling application thickness very closely to assure the product dries fully in the converting process. 

Last year a new kid on the block began touting a new process and some new chemistry to bring water resistance to the paper and corrugated industries.  PackagingDigest indicates that BT3 Technologies are wet coating the web, then controlling the vapor pressure of the fatty acids onto the paper substrate with heat to drive off the excess.  The fatty acids are reportedly from plant based chemistry. Traditional vapor deposition works by laying down molecular layer(s) onto an entire surface.  Similarly, BT3 is coating the entire surface; however, the target of the coating is the hydroxyl group on the paper to which their fatty acid can bond.  They refer to this combination of wetting, heating and chemical bonding as ‘chromatografting’.  This year, Packaging Digest reports that BASF signed an agreement with BT3

The below video shows the potential on a paper towel

There has been a lot of buzz in the media lately about coatings that are super water repellent (my new Samsung phone is claiming to be water resistant, but I’m not going to be the one to test it on purpose).  Most of these new water repelling coatings are also based on some type of very thin layer (typically a single molecule thick) of super-hydrophobic material. 

BT3 Technologies will need to scale up their process window (currently at a web of 9.5”), however, their process speed is well within corrugated process windows at ~1300 ft/min.   Additionally, BT3 is creating additional grease and gas barriers by combining their chromatografting with previously treated paper with polyvinyl alcohol (PVOH).  With the addition of BASF chemical engineering muscle, it’s possible this may become a viable and valuable new coating.

Leave a comment where yous see the greatest potential for this technology in Packaging!