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issue: July 2006 APPLIANCE Magazine

Packaging Materials & Equipment
Wrapping Up

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Electrolux in Anderson, South Carolina, U.S., switches from corrugated to clear-plastic film packaging of refrigerators, achieving cost savings with a flexible, automated system.

The company reduced costs by packaging its refrigerators in clear plastic film.

Electrolux in North America makes refrigerators under several brand names, including Frigidaire and Gibson. To improve competitiveness, appliance manufacturers are looking for ways to reduce cost and optimize manufacturing. Packaging is one area that can often be optimized with easily justified ROI (return on investment) and short payback time. Electrolux in Anderson began one such project in 2002, determined to find a better packaging technology than the existing corrugated system. Electrolux in other parts of the world had already made the switch to film wrapping of white goods appliances.
“After making a thorough analysis of the project and suppliers we chose MSK Stretch Hooder Systems,” adds Duane Miller, controls engineer for Electrolux. “The readiness to cooperate with our requirements, the machine quality and operator friendly EMSY (Electronic Management System) were important factors.”
MSK General Manager Irfan Oezdemir explains that the decision to choose a new packaging technology should not be based solely on the costs of the packaging machine. There are a few key factors to be considered, such as the overall packaging process costs per unit. The overall costs include machine, pre-packaging, film, labor, damage return, and overall logistics costs. Besides cost, he says, there are also benefits such as improved reputation due to the marketing impact of clear packaging and improved customer satisfaction.
“Originally, the main reasons for switching from corrugated to Clearview™ packaging were to reduce the overall packaging costs and to follow the lead of Electrolux Brazil and Europe with film packaging,” states Electrolux Senior Engineer Steven House.
Electrolux embarked on a detailed testing procedure to make sure that the new packaging concept would meet their requirements. “Different packaging designs, including the interior EPS components and the stretch film, were tested using the testing machine located on MSK premises in Marietta, Georgia, U.S.,” House says. “Over several months, multiple truck-loads of refrigerators were tested to find the optimal packaging design. As a result, Electrolux developed a package that prevented damage and satisfied their customers.”
The project scope for the Electrolux Anderson plant includes three high-speed MSK Stretch Hooder machines, with a wrapping capacity of up to 160 products per hour. House states, “The packaging lines can automatically recognize all the different product types and choose the correct film format to apply.”
“The benefits of the project using the Clearview packaging process helped reach our cost saving target,” says Andy Croft, plant manager of the Electrolux Anderson plant. “In addition the efficiency in the warehouse using clamp trucks is increased; six refrigerators can be lifted at a time with clamp trucks; with corrugated they could only lift four at a time for transfer to designated areas. This gave us a 50-percent savings for this process.” The benefits extend to shipping as well: 84 stretch-wrapped refrigerators can be loaded on a truck, while only 72 corrugated-packaged appliances could be shipped at one time.

Electrolux installed MSK’s Stretch Hooder lines with Clearview™ technology at its Anderson, South Carolina, U.S. plant.

Maintenance Benefits

“One of the main benefits is the machines are maintenance-friendly,” Miller states. “We are happy with customer service and preventative maintenance. During this developing process, they worked with us and helped us to find solutions as needed. Using EMSY, our operators can easily make adjustments and operate the machines comfortably with the help of intensive visualization of our actual machine lines.”

Suppliers mentioned in this article:
Electrolux Professional

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