By: David Roberge on February 7th, 2019
Packaging Film Tests - The Simple Process That Can Save You Thousands
Equipment | Packaging Materials | The Business of Packaging | Plant Performance | Investment | Packaging Design
In order to maintain optimal functionality, everything with moving parts needs an adjustment from time to time – be it cars, computers or packaging machinery.
Chances are, your company’s equipment could use a few tweaks – and even minor changes in your packaging process could add up to big savings. Sometimes, that could mean hundreds of thousands of dollars.
There are expert teams dedicated to audits that help customers optimize settings, materials, and processes used on their production lines. A simple packaging film audit could be the edge you need to boost your bottom line.
What’s a Packaging Film Audit and Why Is It Worth Your Time?
A packaging film audit or a film test audit is a process that determines the optimal functionality of your machinery.
Consider it a controlled experiment: it’s a test run in which a team of experts runs a roll of packaging film that’s different than your current film.
Through comparing a specific series of benchmarks, the team finds easy ways to improve efficiency and save you money.
These could mean operational upgrades such as implementing protective packaging, switching to a lower priced film, or opting for longer rolls, among other changes.
Why Should You Run a Packaging Film Audit?
There are numerous reasons to run a packaging film audit, but most significantly, it will help you optimize your machinery so you can get the biggest bang for your buck.
If you’re noticing any issues or inefficiencies with your current processes, it’s smart to schedule an audit to address those issues ASAP. But even if you think your line is running optimally, an audit can often uncover un-utilized means of improving operations – which cuts costs.
Specific reasons to run an audit include the opportunity to improve packaging appearance; the possibility of downgauging; and the chance that you could get longer footage and longer time between roll changes.
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It’s All Up to the Customer
Additionally, all of the power in a film test audit lies with you, the customer.
The audit process itself is free, and as the customer you get to decide if you want to move forward with any changes.
If you choose to keep your processes just as they are – there’s no fee. There’s nothing to lose, but there’s incredible potential for gain.
How Does the Packaging Film Audit Work?
You’re probably wondering – how will a film test audit affect my line?
Any manufacturer understands how important it is to minimize downtime. Luckily, an entire packaging film audit typically takes less than 30 minutes, from start to finish.
First, the team arrives and watches your products run on your line for approximately 15 minutes at their current settings. They record packaging speeds, appearance, reject rate, jam rate, equipment settings, and material usage including film width, cutoff length, etc. to serve as benchmarks.
Then, the team puts on a different film and makes adjustments to optimize the process. A film test is run, and they record the same benchmarks.
After the test, the original material is put back in place with all original settings. The line goes back to exactly the way it was before.
The team then discusses the results of both runs with management, and the customer decides if they want to make any changes.
Audits Almost Always Lead to Cost Savings
The biggest reason to opt for a packaging film audit is that the audit team almost always finds ways to save a company money!
The tweaks/changes they’re frequently able to make include:
- Using less expensive film. Often, the new film is identical to other films in use, but costs less.
- Specification changes. This include things like changing to a lighter gauge or a narrower roll of film. For instance, centerfolded film can be ordered in ½ increments, which could lead to significant savings based on volume.
- Set-up changes. Reducing the amount of film taken from the roll for each package can result in film savings in excess of $5,000 per year.
- Changing the product orientation. This can reduce the amount of scrap (trim) on each package, which also means less waste.
- Line efficiency adjustments. These can be numerous and include processes such as reducing the number of changeovers due to longer rolls, cutting back on rejects/rewraps, and less jamming/reduced downtime.
- Storage and handling improvements. If you opt for longer rolls, for instance, less space is taken up in your warehouse. Plus, staff will have to take fewer trips from the warehouse to the production floor to replenish inventory.
- Ergonomic and safety issues. If you switch to a lighter gauge film, that means more footage per roll. Without reducing the gauge, you can often move to double length rolls. More footage per roll leads to fewer changeovers which leads to reduced risk of employee injury.
- Environmental upgrades. With gauge reduction, less material goes into the landfill. Plus, with longer rolls there are fewer cartons and pallets to dispose of.
How Film Test Audits Get Results
If you’re going to shut down your line for a half hour, it’s important to have adequate incentive. Luckily, a packaging film audit almost always leads to improvements and a better bottom line for the customer.
Here are some actual case studies from Industrial Packaging customers who saved thousands of dollars – sometimes hundreds of thousands – due to an audit.
- For one customer, with new film in place they were able to lower their dwell time (or time the seal bar is closed) by 50%. In the end, they were able to run twice the amount of product in the same allotted time. In other words, they doubled productivity.
- Another customer was having trouble wrapping a high gloss carton for the initial roll out of a new product. They couldn’t get a good-looking shrink with their current settings and materials. The film test team tested a different formulation and the company was able to run more efficiently and produce the desired result.
- Yet another company was losing $120,000 due to the way they combined their products for shipping. The products were sliding out of the box, especially when handled by the big overnight shippers. The team identified a new packaging concept. The company went on to implement that concept using a different material, and it solved their problem – keeping their product intact.
Those are just a few examples of how a packaging film audit can help companies save money and optimize every run. The experts could suggest a whole host of upgrades or changes, from implementing protective packaging to reducing the trim and beyond.
With this simple, half hour process, you’ve got nothing to lose and potentially thousands of dollars to gain.
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About David Roberge
I am grateful for my 9 years as part of the outstanding Industrial Packaging team. I was able to hang out with some of the most knowledgeable folks in the packaging industry. I feel even luckier that I was able to share that knowledge with you. I love learning, hiking, and growing people and teams both personally and professionally, and helping companies grow better.