Thursday, September 1, 2016

UW STOUT Pack Expo Alumni Social Event - Save the Date!

Save the Date
Pack Expo Alumni Social
Metropolitan Club of Chicago
67th Floor of the Willis Tower
November 7, 2016 
Event Image Placeholder
Date: November 7, 2016
Time: 5:00-7:00 pm
Place: The Metropolitan Club of Chicago
Address: Willis Tower 233 S. Wacker Drive, 67th Floor, Chicago, IL 60606
Price: $20
Save the date for the UW-Stout Alumni Social after Pack Expo!  This is a great opportunity to see Stout Packaging grads, network and enjoy the view from the 67th floor. This event is hosted by Alumnus Rick Kroner '91. Take the Pack Expo shuttle on Route 5 to join the fun.
As always - there will be great door prizes and mouthwatering appetizers.
We hope to see you there!

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Small Changes Can Bring Big Supply Chain Savings

Packaging Consultant
by Rich Lindgren, CPP

In the world of Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) there is an eternal struggle between the demands of marketing, operations and optimizing your packaging for the supply chain.  As an everyday consumer, you probably see packages all over the grocery store where you wonder why there is so much air around the product or food in the packages you purchase.  For the most part, air is waste and below you will read why!

There are a few reasons for this air.  The first is driven by operations and that is the functional air space so they can run their automated filling equipment at speeds which maximize efficiency and profitability.  For the most part this is a good thing, this ultimately contributes to you getting the products you want at your local stores at a fair price.  Secondly and usually the larger driver for the size of the packaging is due to marketing billboard space.  When you walk down the aisle at Target or Walmart, almost every package is a mini billboard of sorts trying to call your attention much like driving down the interstate in your car.
Packaging on the shelf
Aisle of "Packaging Billboards"
The bigger the packaging face the larger the product image or area that can be used by marketing and graphics teams to inform you and entice you to put it in your cart.  Packaging size also has an inherit suggestion to the amount of product inside said package.  Consciously or subconsciously if you see two pizza boxes next to each other for the same price, you may select the larger one without actually reading the ounces labeled in small print at the bottom of the carton, thinking you are getting a better value. Sadly, not very often is a larger package an indication of amount of product or food inside and even can be consider non-functional slack fill, which can lead to fines on companies.

Typically the process works as follows, a leading brand owner will launch a product into the market with a large billboard area so they can "be heard" on the shelf to tell you what is new and great about the new product.  If the product is successful, it is natural for competing brands to launch their "me too" versions into the market to grab a share of the new market.  When those "me too" products launch they often copy the size of the current market leader for that product category whether they need the space or not, so they can look the same size wise on the shelf.

As a packaging engineer the trick is to balance the concerns of marketing and operations while delivering an optimized packaging system that will serve the company's bottom line.  Below I will outline a case study for a project our team delivered for a past frozen foods customer.  This particular frozen pizza item was the follower or the "me too" in the market.  Even though the product was a different shape and size then competitor, they launched product in a paperboard carton the exact dimension of the competitor.

We proposed a sensitivity analysis showcasing the range in cost savings, while maintaining a similar size graphic facing. The key was finding the sweet spot for this packaging system while meeting the needs of the marketing team.  Even though there were other options with larger supply chain savings, marketing would not support the billboard reduction.  The selected option is what we labeled as "Visual Indifference".  Basically it was the smallest change I could find that would still make a big impact.  Such a small change, that it would be impossible to perceive it in a freezer case.
Paperboard Carton Packaging
Small changes to the retail carton leading to big savings!

By reducing the length and width of the carton by just an 1/8" in each direction and reducing height or riser panel by a 1/16" we made a huge impact.  The 1/8" reduction allowed us to add a whole row of cases along a 53" Dry Van trailer as well as one additional row at the back of the trailers.  The 1/16" reduction allowed for pack out ratio change on the freezer shelf.  Getting more pizzas in a freezer leading to less out of stock.  This also helped propel a change going to 14 count shipping case from 12 count.  In the end, this also allowed one additional row of pizza cases along the top of the trailer as well, in the end the customer got an additional 6,848 pizzas on each truck shipped.

Packaging Case Study
Click Images to Enlarge
In the end, with an annualized savings of $600K, the time to payback was only 7 days.  Adding on top of that, there was a great sustainable story to tell as well.  On top of the hard savings, the reduced out of stocks, reduced touches and many other soft benefits throughout the supply chain.
Packaging and Operations Map
Total Supply Chain Impacts

Does it make you wonder what products in your company's portfolio could have a similar opportunity for 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 for their customers.

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.