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issue: June 2008 APPLIANCE Magazine

Packaging Materials and Equipment
It’s about Appearances

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by Jill Russell, Contributing Editor

The current packaging concerns are nothing new from those of the past. But today’s packaging solutions are far from the solutions of yesteryear and are certainly making products look good.

This blister-packaging machinery line helps OEMs meet retailer display and material requirements and creates a consumer-product interaction, at high speeds and low costs, according to supplier Koch Packaging Systems (www.kochpackaging.com). The KBS-KF blister line is designed for in-line production of monomaterial blister packs with cover film. It works with PE, PET, PVC plastics, Tyvek, aluminum, and other materials. The line can also work with various package types, including film/card, card/film/card, or film/film formats.

When it comes to packaging, it’s all about the look. Whether it’s the inside packaging preventing a product from shifting and damage during transport or tapes and adhesives that provide a protective barrier from scratches until purchase, packaging suppliers (and appliance manufacturers) are certainly concerned about a product’s overall look.

The package is, after all, often what the consumer sees even before seeing the product and may have a major influence on the decision to purchase the product. The packaging aesthetics reinforce the brand identity, while a failure of the packaging to protect the product can leave a profoundly negative impression on the consumer.

In addition to creating the best possible first impression, appliance OEMs are faced with challenges to make their packaging more cost-efficient and more sustainable.

The Flowtech film curtain system allows a manufacturer to package products with different dimensions on one system and still achieve high throughout speeds. This shrink-wrapping system, for example, enables packing of up to 400 products per hour. The system is one of several shrink-wrap and stretch-wrap technologies offered by MSK Covertech (Marietta, GA, U.S.; www.mskcovertech.com).

“Your product does a lot of traveling, and you want to ensure your safety margin. You make sure your product looks great and you want to keep it that way,” says Alison Myers, product manager for Lantech (Louisville, KY, U.S.; www.lantech.com). Myers says shipping safety comes when all the products are made into a single unit with the pallet.

Lantech’s Pallet-Grip system locks a shipment to a pallet for security during transport. The system uses a retrofittable component to all the company’s straddle stretch-wrapping systems. It works by stretch-wrapping a load, but places a rolled cable of plastic film below the pallet to securely keep products on the pallet during shipment.

The system rolls the bottom 3 to 6 in. of film into a cable, which is then pulled down to 1½ in. from the deck board and “bites” down into the top board of the pallet. The configuration locks the shipment to the pallet while leaving room for forklifts to transport pallets without puncturing the cable or stretch wrap.

The 3M-Matic Adjustable Case Sealer a70 was designed to help bring automation to hand-taping of boxes. The sealer handles cartons from 6 to 21.5 in. wide and 4.75 to 21.5 in. high, weighing up to 65 lb. The 3M AccuGlide Taping Head 2+ applies 34- to 48-mm-wide tape in a low-impact application, while a four-belt drive helps provide traction and consistent application. The system can seal up to 30 cases per minute, according to supplier 3M (St. Paul, MN, U.S.; www.3M.com/packaging).

Retailer Mandates

Mark Mosher sees a big sustainability push coming from retailers. Mosher is U.S. sales engineer for Koch Packaging Systems (Towaco, NJ, U.S.; www.kochpackaging.com). “Packaging trends are changing almost as often as gas prices. A hot topic in the packaging industry is the club-membership bulk store packages and the use of sustainable materials and designs. Retailers are beginning to mandate specific restrictions on packages and materials used.”

To support small appliance makers, Koch released a blister film packaging line. In the system, the blister film is guided through a forming station to a sealing station by a servo-driven gripper chain. The film is heated and formed in the forming station and blisters are formed in-line while the products are placed into them manually or automatically. An integrated card-placing unit places the card into the blister. The film with the finished blisters is cut after sealing with roller knives and separated by a lateral cutting device.

“Shelf space and brand recognition are always key,” he explains. “The package is designed to maximize the available printing space for marketing and branding information while being able to view the entire product through the protective blister.”

Packaging solutions aren’t always connected to the product’s outside packaging, as is the case with tesa tape inc. (Charlotte, NC, U.S.; www.tesatape.com). It recently launched tensilized polypropylene (TPP) tapes that feature the same strength as filament tapes and allow residue-free removal from several surfaces. Thomas Heck, market manager, industrial, for tesa, says the tapes are used by the appliance industry to secure crisper bins, drawers, shelves, exterior doors, and wire harnesses.

Derek Rathel, key account manager, says the tapes are produced using tesa’s specific formula of resins and additives combined with a monoaxial orientation to achieve the strength and application properties it boasts.

Baldor motors recently partnered with packaging equipment supplier Lantech to make its laborious and costly shipping a more efficient process. Baldor was accustomed to manually bolting each of its motors to predrilled wafer board to prevent shifting and damage during shipping. Now, Lantech’s Lan-ringer stretch packaging machine uses the strength and tension of prestretched film to secure each motor to its wafer board. The system also reduced the number of wafer board sizes and configurations from more than 20 to just nine. The system cuts material costs by 80% and the automated shipping preparation takes only 15 seconds. Lantech says the Lan-ringer can help reduce packaging material costs by using inexpensive stretch film, reduce inventory of packaging material needed, and provide constant holding force even during vibration, high impacts, or after settling.

Huntington Foam Corp. (Coraopolis, PA, U.S.; www.huntingtonfoam.com) also sees the need for providing low-cost, high-speed packaging solutions for OEMs. The company developed its Skid Runner system comprising molded expanded polystyrene (EPS) and high-impact polystyrene (HIPS) to provide a durable (and sustainable) skid system that is easy to apply and remove, and is resistant to shock and vibration. Huntington president Gary McLaughlin says the skid system helps reduce damage during transport by reducing the energy sent through a product during an impact.

Despite pressures to decrease costs and often to change to greener materials, packaging suppliers are surprisingly optimistic. One way they may help satisfy both needs is by coming up with multiuse packaging materials.

 “The buzzword for 2009 is consolidate. We’re actively testing a new version of our TPP (triphenylphosphine) product that would eliminate the need to carry numerous products in the plant, and with a savings, to boot,” says Heck of tesa tape. “The future looks bright for the world of packaging products. New, emerging technologies are constantly being developed to help break the old mold and develop better, safer, and faster ways of producing appliances.”

Suppliers mentioned in this article:
KOCH Packaging Systems, LP
tesa tape, inc.
Huntington Foam LLC

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