Thursday, June 16, 2016

The Most Valuable Ziplock Bag of Air Ever?

This packaging case study involves a lot of hoopla and several diverse inputs: Kobe’s last game, an air-filled ziplock bag and oxygen transmission rates.
There had been much hoopla over the course of NBA great Kobe Bryant’s final year with the Los Angeles Lakers, which only grew exponentially for his last game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on April 13. The game itself had a storybook ending, with Kobe totaling 60 points.
Given the hype around the event, one could argue that this was a peak moment to cash in on selling Kobe gear and memorabilia.  One of the items found listed for sale on eBay included a “bag of air from Kobe’s final game.” The bids shot up to a high of $17,500 before it and a number of such bags that had turned up were removed by Ebay. Meantime, dozens of media outlets reported on the frenzy, including The Huffington Post.
OTR, shelf life
A ziplock bag of air from Kobe Bryant's last game
showed up on Ebay with bids reaching as high as $17,500
But what about the permeability?
A colleague and I were enjoying a water cooler discussion on the game and this highly valuable bag, when our packaging engineer light bulb flipped on and we thought aloud: “But what about the bag permeability?” “How well could this inexpensive packaging vessel contain this precious investment?”
Read on here at Packaging Digest to see what we found when we put on our packaging engineer hats and delved deeper into this topic.

By: Rob Kaszubowski, Packaging Engineering Manager, Chainalytics

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

GMO Labeling Law to Stress Packaging Departments

by Rob Kaszubowski: Packaging Engineering Manager, Chainalytics

 In case you had missed it, the latest verdict in the Vermont genetically modified organisms (GMO) labeling saga is in: Food manufacturers have until July 1st to update their package labeling to include GMO information.

print plates, new product development
Before and After: Food manufacturers across the country will be required to update their package labeling to communicate if their products use genetically modified organisms

As a recap: Back in 2014, Vermont initiated a law to require all foods containing GMOs to be clearly labeled on all food packaging.
Congress had established a committee to block the labeling change. However, the Senate failed to advance a bill that would ban states from requiring food packaging to disclose the presence of GMOs. Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar helped lead efforts to stomp this one down, likely thinking of the holistic impact this change would have on Minnesota-based food producers General Mills, Land O’Lakes and Hormel. This puts the GMO law back in motion and will go into effect in July 2016—in barely more than two months!
Click here to read more at Packaging Digest on how this new labeling requirement will stress packaging engineering departments.
Rob Kaszubowski is the Engineering Manager at Chainalytics, where he is focused on reducing product damage and implementing packaging cost savings while leading a team of packaging consultants in Design for Distribution initiatives.
Connect with Rob on LinkedIn and on Twitter @KazPack1

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

A First-Timer's Insights from 2016 ISTA TransPack Forum

by Samuel Huppert, Packaging Engineer, Packaging Optimization, Chainalytics

I am a young packaging professional and always looking for opportunities to learn and grow as an engineer. I was pleased to find that the 2016 ISTA TransPack Forum provided ample opportunity for me to further my professional development:

  1. Networking opportunities, from the welcome and exhibitor reception, volleyball tournament, to meals, allowed me to meet a broad range of people in the packaging industry.
  2. Attendees ranged from packaging lab technicians to packaging consultants and global packaging leaders (I had in-depth discussions with professionals whose experience ranged from 1-30+ years and learned how packaging strategically fits within different companies’ supply chain strategies,  as well as the diversity of packaging careers).
  3. Almost 30 speaker presentations often incorporated case studies and new information/technology relating to the packaging industry--a great way to learn.

    ISTA Transpack technical speakers
    Many speakers shared technical insights and tips and tricks for package development and testing.

My Most Important Takeaways

Pallets are part of packaging too! Three presentations dedicated to pallets were a great awakening for me, as I learned how the size, quality and type of a pallet can impact the supply chains through packaging performance, damage and related costs and logistics outcomes. 
damage resolution engineering
Pallets can be part of your damage reduction solution

Cross-functional communication across silos is key. Another common event theme was the need for better intra-organizational communication. Often, it seems, packaging designers are designing around cost in their own department, a current problem. For more successful supply chain outcomes, packaging, pallet, and unit load handling equipment designers all need to work cross-functionally to come up with the best packaging system for their respective organization. Numerous speakers concurred that a holistic approach to packaging is key; looking at every aspect of the supply chain and the packaging requirements at those various stages in the distribution network.

Technical package testing gets everybody excited. Obviously, there were a lot of other informative presentations--think harvesting triboelectric energy, intermodal transportation dynamics (with video in a railcar), etc., along with case studies that tracked a packaging solution from the initial problem to the final solution and results. As packaging consultants, we work with a wide variety of products, packaging materials and transportation and handling methods, so I’m sure I’ll be able to leverage bits and pieces from all speakers to solve a unique packaging challenge down the road!

Overall, ISTA TransPack Forum was a great learning experience. Many of the professionals are returning attendees, but I strongly recommend in attending the conference if you have not before. It is well worth the value especially if you are looking to learn and grow as a packaging professional.  

Samuel Huppert is a packaging consultant with Chainalytics where he supports engineering efforts on cost take-out and damage reduction initiatives. 

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Smart Packaging Leads to Supply Chain Savings

by Rob Kaszubowski, Packaging Engineering Manager, Chainalytics
packaging consultant

Packaging is a unique beast. Every product you use, touch and consume requires some amount of packaging at some point in the supply chain. It’s so easy to take packaging for granted and forget that every packaging component has a specific purpose and can provide value to your product's total cost of ownership. This seems especially true in food packaging, where the consumer's main focus is to purchase, consume the product and toss (or recycle) the packaging.

However, as a packaging engineer, it’s the little things that stand out for me.

For instance, I recently purchased a case of mandarin oranges from Costco. OK, my kids love mandarin oranges, so I actually purchased two cases. When I opened the case I noticed that the manufacturer had nested the cups to improve the overall efficiency of the secondary packaging. It’s not overly flashy or innovative…just smart packaging! Ahhh! A packaging engineer’s dream!
Nested oranges inside corrugated shipper

Nested fruit cups

Non-nested fruit cups are inefficient

The high-level takeaways from this? A seemingly minor package orientation can lead directly to multiple savings across the supply chain through:

1. Less corrugated material

corrugated cost savings
Corrugated shipper material comparison - Nested fruit cups vs. Non-nested
The corrugated shipper with the nested fruit cups utilizes 386 square inches material.
The not-nested case uses 411 square inches of material. Or a 6.5% increase in material!

2. Improved pallet cube efficiencies
Nested cups shipper vs. non-nested cups shipper
Nesting the fruit cups allows for an extra 20 cases per pallet (or 8.6% improvement in pallet efficiencies). This translates to fewer pallets in the system, fewer trailers and less handling labor.

3. Fewer trailers in transit

Improved pallet utilization leads to fewer trailers on the roads
Fewer trailers provide cost savings and sustainability gains from less diesel usage and lower carbon emissions. Plus, the need for fewer trailers on the road also helps alleviate driver shortage constraints.  Again, it's the simple things that can lead to big time savings for consumer packaged goods companies.

4. More product on the pallet at Costco

This one is pretty obvious, but having more product on the pallet at the stores leads to less handling and fewer touches throughout the supply chain - even at the store level. 
What other simple changes in every day packaging could lead to greater efficiency and supply chain savings?

The packaging team at Chainalytics focuses on packaging cost reduction efforts that lead to a chain reaction of savings across the entire supply chain.

Rob Kaszubowski is a Packaging Engineering Manager at Chainalytics Packaging Engineering practice. His track record of success ranges from delivering packaging cost savings and damage reduction projects to optimizing packaging throughout clients’ entire supply chains including retail, DIY and big-box channels.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Combating Driver Shortage Through Packaging

If you pay attention to transportation and long haul trucking rates, you know that the current driver shortage is a real problem and is causing increased rates and reduced load acceptance ratios.  For more details on the driver shortage and how it effects transportation costs, check out this article by Michael Kilgore.

The most widely accepted solution to the driver shortage is to increase compensation for over the road truck drivers so that the profession remains competitive against other appealing semi-skilled construction jobs that are on the rise.  That will definitely help with the supply end of the equation and probably deserved for quality drivers, but at the same time those wage increases will just transfer through to your company in the way of rate increases across lanes.

Here is an alternative way of thinking about this problem from the the demand side of the equation.  Shipping less product is obviously not a solution to reduce demand and unless you own your fleet, you can't really hire or pay drivers more, you rely on your carriers for that.  So lets look at something you do have control of.  Believe it or not, it starts with your packaging, specifically your distribution and unit load packaging.

Do the Back of your Trailers resemble this?
By optimizing your packaging and increasing the density of your unit loads and thus leading to more goods shipped per trailer, you reduce your demand on your carriers and the over all system.  Kind of like adjusting your thermostat in the heat of the summer when you are not home, you are reducing impact on the grid and waste.  Empty cube space in trailer is probably the worst and most expensive kind of waste there is.

Many customers we help achieve 5-15% improvements in full truck load densities, which usually translates 10-15% less truck load shipments.  This improvement obviously generates immediate transportation savings but also reduces the demand on their carriers and improved load acceptance ratios.  Now while one company reducing a few truck load shipments a week is not going to solve the driver shortage by itself, but a small percentage shift across the market would.  Not to mention, this would result in significant savings for companies and a large reduction in truck emissions from a sustainability standpoint.

To learn more about Packaging Optimization, follow the link.