Digital Magazine

Productivity Gains Hiding in Plain Sight

By Jon Sweitzer, Product Manager, Print & Packaging, Avery Dennison Performance Tapes

The retail landscape is changing dramatically. As e-commerce thrives, consumers are becoming increasingly more content to shop online from the comfort of their own home. Retailers like Amazon, meanwhile, are finding ways to make the shopping experience faster and easier.

All this is quite a benefit for the global courier and parcel segment. But with that growth comes some new pressure for the converters who serve it. The growth in demand is coming with an increase in competition and a wave of consolidation.

From a plant manager’s perspective, it’s the double whammy: The pressure to do more with less, controlling costs while increasing production. And in such an environment, additional capital investment is not likely. The plant manager needs to work with what’s already on the shop floor.

The good news is hidden productivity gains may be lurking in plain sight. These gains are perhaps rolled up (literally) in a product relied on every day, but which may not get a lot of consideration. I’m talking specifically about pressure-sensitive adhesive tapes (PSAs) that provide strong performance for flexible industrial packaging.

I’ve seen it time and time again in the field. These adhesive products are thought of as a commodity, and have become almost an afterthought in many plants. Converters are ordering the same SKUs over and over again, from distributors who simply haven’t refreshed their product offering in years.

One Manufacturer’s Solution

However, just as so many other things are changing, so are these adhesive products. A range of PSA tapes are produced for numerous applications, featuring an aggressive, rubber-based adhesive engineered to bond to a wide variety of packaging materials, including those with a high percentage of recycled content.

These PSAs offer a range of hot melt rubber adhesives suitable for low surface energy foams and films as well as a range of coat weights for very irregular film surfaces such as bubble wrapping. These innovations allow for higher productivity as the strong initial tack allows the assembled packaging to be handled and used immediately.

How much more productivity? Again, this depends on the business. But as a quick example, by switching to a more innovative solution, one customer was able to increase its output by 200 fpm. This translated to an additional 96,000 lineal feet per shift and an additional 12,000 boxes per shift.

Three Steps That Will be Worth Your Time

Would you welcome that sort of productivity gain, simply from switching to a new adhesive product? I think most would. So, as you consider your options, consider these three tips:

  1. Simply reconsider the importance of the double-sided/double-stick adhesive products you’re using to laminate boxes and other corrugated items. It’s easy to think of these as “just a commodity,” but recent advances in the technology may mean you have some opportunities for additional productivity that can make a very noticeable difference to your bottom line.
  2. Consider buying these products directly from a manufacturer rather than through a distributor. While distributors can often provide some convenience when it comes to ordering, they simply can’t provide the level of technical and application expertise you’d get when working directly with a manufacturer and its product portfolio.
  3. When you get hold of that technical expert, carve out some time to get him or her into your plant. This is time well spent. For instance, many times our technical application experts help customers pinpoint a product with an adhesive coat weight and finish (full, finger lift or extended), that’s ideal for their application — that helps them maximize productivity gains. Aside from that, individuals like the aforementioned application experts might be able to literally adjust your machine settings to optimize speed and minimize issues, and give you guidance around preventative maintenance to help you run efficiently and increase uptime.

Switching out your existing adhesive products to more innovative solutions like PSAs — or other commodities — may not be the silver bullet that solves all your challenges. But by taking a fresh look at what’s available, and by leaning on the technical support offered by suppliers, you may be able to make a noticeable impact on your bottom line. Maybe you can find some of those hidden productivity gains.

About the Author

Jon Sweitzer is the product manager for the Print & Packaging segment for Avery Dennison Performance Tapes. 

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