Managing Data for Increased Profits

When Master Packaging officials decided they needed an integrated business system to manage their operations, the Tampa, FL-based company already was enjoying success as a printer, laminator, slitter, and bagmaker with an in-house graphic design department.

So much success, in fact, the company officials felt the need for a business-management system that could provide shop-floor data collection and inventory management solutions that could accommodate Master Packaging's future growth.

“We had to get a better feel for what was really going on in the factory, both per job and per machine,” explains Master Packaging CFO Greg Dingle. “We were looking for something a little more industry-specific, and Concord was one of the top suppliers that had software for the flexible packaging industry.”

Company officials ultimately believed Concord's system for flexible packaging had the functionality to handle the company's unique requirements. Dingle says the custom-designed software, which was first installed eight years ago, has been upgraded continually as needs have changed and new technology has developed.

“Initially, we were looking for a software package that fit our industry so we could keep modifications to a minimum,” explains Dingle. “We looked at other [software] packages out there. Some of the off-the-shelf packages would have required such extensive modifications that it would take nine months to a year and be very expensive, with no assurances they would fit our organization in the end.

“The Concord system is such an industry-specific piece of software, it actually breaks different parts of your system into various waste codes that can indicate what job or process is generating the type of waste that really shouldn't be there. The Concord system met our needs very well, and it was very industry specific, our primary objective.”

The fact that Concord's system for converters could be integrated with other systems and applications also appealed to Master Packaging. Dingle says the versatility of the Concord software allowed Master Packaging to expand the system as the company grew. Currently, as many as 35 employees may be using the system at any one time.

“The system is meeting our expectations very well,” says Dingle. “It is very powerful, and at this point we're not taking full advantage of all its capabilities.”

Prior to installing the Concord system, Master Packaging had a manual inventory system, continues Dingle, “and this is leaps and bounds above where we came from. The system helps us know where we stand from an inventory point of view. For example, it monitors the various aging categories, so we know how long items have been in stock, which is very helpful.”

A Move into Laminates
Master Packaging was founded 30 years ago and produced mainly four- to six-color polyethylene bakery bags until about the time it bought its first Concord business management software system in the mid-90s. Less than a year later, the company purchased its first solventless laminator, which allowed it to convert value-added film structures with enhanced barrier properties for oxygen resistance and moisture resistance.

Prior to installing the first of its three solventless Comexi laminators, Master Packaging officials were concerned about price pressures that were limiting the company's profit potential in its traditional bakery bag market. Notes Dingle, “It got to the point where we could see where that industry was headed, and it was definitely going to be to our detriment to continue down that path.” Today, a full 50% of the company's output is laminated products; the rest remains unsupported films.

In addition to the Comexi laminators, Master Packaging also operates seven presses that can print up to eight colors on rolls to 57-in., thanks in large part to the addition two years ago of its first Comexi printing press.

“At the time, a lot of our laminate customers were going from five and six colors to seven or eight, so we really had no choice,” suggests Dingle. “That press has been highly successful for us, and obviously something we felt we needed to expand our market. It has definitely been worthwhile.”

Master Packaging also operates five Kidder presses and one Paper Converting Machine Company (PCMC) unit that can print up to six colors. The company, which occupies 120,000 sq ft in two adjacent buildings, also operates seven Dusenbery slitters in widths to 57 in., and 12 bagmaking machines, including high-speed wicketers and flat-bed units from Ro-An and Hudson-Sharp.

“Our equipment, our schedule, and our people are all flexible enough to meet our customers' needs,” says Dingle. “We try as best we can to set up certain runs on certain machines for efficiency purposes, but we really can handle 500 to 50,000-pound runs.”

Tangible Results
Master Packaging has placed a high priority on reducing production waste and increasing efficiency throughout the last year-and-a-half. Dingle estimates in this period, through using Concord's system and the new procedures put in place, production waste has been reduced between 1% and 1.5% and capacity has increased approximately 30% — no small issue when margins are razor thin.

In addition, Dingle notes Master Packaging is able to offer customers quicker service thanks to improved order entry efficiencies, particularly with regard to repeat orders. Utilizing Concord's Item Master functionality, details on orders are kept in the system, cutting down on the time it takes to create a quote and subsequent order. In essence, the company has gone from using a calculator to measure its systems to using a computer, with all the improvements that might entail.

In fact, Dingle notes many components of inventory are much quicker through the Concord system. “What used to take us almost one full day to complete a physical inventory now takes us around three hours,” he says. Master Packaging also is benefiting from the improved management data available through the system. Production-related data, such as reporting on job cost, and key production indicators such as speed, waste, and availability of hours, help the company define how it is measuring up, both in the industry and internally, from a profitability standpoint.

Dingle says the company's next Concord upgrade will allow it to generate real-time shop-floor data collection so production efficiencies not only can be monitored but adjusted on the fly. Currently, data is not analyzed until hours after a job has been completed. Still, the Concord system allows Master Packaging to review critical aspects of a run, which has been crucial to improved efficiencies — and decreased waste.

“When we made the decision to purchase the system, it was a large step to move from no system to a full-blown package,” explains Dingle. “The Concord system delivers a tremendous amount of information that we can analyze and [use to] make decisions about how we can best run certain products, [and] on the profitability of certain runs, which we could only do manually before. It's really tremendous from a manufacturing standpoint.”

Master Packaging
6932 S. Manhattan Ave., Tampa, FL 33616; 813/837-1575; fax: 813/837-3911;

Concord Business Systems, Kennesaw, GA; 770/429-0268;

Comexi SA, Girona, Spain; +34 972 477 744;

Dusenbery Worldwide, Randolph, NJ; 973/366-7500;

Kiddercomexi, Agawam, MA; 413/786-8692;

PCMC, Green Bay, WI; 920/491-6637;

Ro-An Industries, Middle Village, NY; 718/821-1115;

Hudson-Sharp Machine Co., Green Bay, WI; 920/496-4571;

Subscribe to PFFC's EClips Newsletter