The Protecta Pack Hibrid from EDL Packaging Engineers offers the protection of sleeve wrappers with the flexibility of a stretch wrapper.
Penny-pinching is the name of the game in these times of
economic crisis, and the floor of the manufacturing line is a
great place to start. According to the Packaging Machinery Manufacturers Institute (PMMI), more goods are made in the US
today than at any time in history, though the manufacturing
sector has recovered slowly from the last recession and still
faces serious challenges. The significance of manufacturing in
the economy, says PMMI, is even greater than macroeconomic data
indicate for the manufacturing sector-including petfood, treats
and pet care-and goes deeper, enabling growth in various
In the beginning of this decade, Old Mother Hubbard, a
Tewksbury, Massachusetts, USA, manufacturer of natural
petfoods, was out to double its gross revenues. The company had
already managed to develop strong capabilities in manufacturing
and marketing, but as its distribution channels grew, Old
Mother Hubbard needed a money-making solution.
Management at Old Mother Hubbard, marketer of pet treats and
Wellness dog and cat foods and treats, knew that to break the
US$100 million threshold, its core manufacturing, fulfillment
and inventory processes needed to be improved so they could
fulfill an increasing number of larger orders. That meant
forecasting and product availability processes would need to be
improved. The company needed to know how much of what product
to make, and have accurate enough inventories to meet
day-to-day demand while ensuring freshness of its all-natural
According to Beth Wilson, who was retained as a consultant
to help the company implement IFS Applications, a versatile
software application, and now serves as vice president of
operations, Old Mother Hubbard used the implementation process
as a way to actively re-engineer its internal processes.
Old Mother Hubbard was able to improve and develop its
internal processes on a number of fronts, including in the
accuracy of inventory records, according to the company.
Moreover, Old Mother Hubbard's accurate inventories meant that
packaged petfood could turn more rapidly, and that meant
there's fresher food for consumers and lower spoilage costs for
"Our foods have no preservatives, so on our dry foods, we
only have 12-15 months shelf life," Wilson says. "We used to
turn inventories three to four times a year. Now, we are
turning over our inventory six to eight times a year. This has
allowed us to improve code dating by 20%, which translates into
a cost savings on food we would have otherwise discarded and
fresher food getting to retailers."
But perhaps the most significant change enabled by Old
Mother Hubbard's implementation of IFS Applications was a move
toward outsourced production. In 2004, according to Wilson, the
natural petfood company was manufacturing most of its biscuits
and kibble internally. The company would then sell its products
to 30 distributors who took product to retailers. According to
a recent PMMI survey of manufacturers, of those that source
their packaging machinery, 44% only use US manufacturers, 28%
use offshore and 28% utilize both.
Eagle Packaging Machinery has introduced a self-locking carton tray forming machine that uses flat, blank cartons, automatically folding and tucking the box and locking them in place, saving manufacturers time and money.
"In 2005, we made a strategic decision to outsource
manufacturing and do product development and marketing
internally," Wilson says. "We moved toward all external
manufacturing, and IFS had some great capabilities to enable us
to do that. One important feature for us has been the ability
to have supplied material on a purchase order.
"Because marketing is such a key part of our business, our
packaging is critical," Wilson continues. "It is expensive, so
on key product lines we maintain those inventories of packaging
ourselves. Even though packaging is physically located at our
co-packer, our packaging inventory is still kept in IFS
Applications. When we issue an order to the co-packer, that
order feeds back into IFS Applications, so we can automate the
purchase of more packaging based on receipts.
"We have improved our product management enough that on
those lesser cost items like labels, packaging is turnkeyed by
our co-packers and we are no longer involved," she says. "But
on critical packaging, we are involved. We have streamlined
this procedure so that even as the number of SKUs grow, we can
manage things successfully."
The front lines
Another way to cut costs, but not corners, is to update your
packaging line with faster machines and a tighter operation.
Take for example, CSB-Systems International Inc., which has
recently released a new version of its system for compliance to
country of origin labeling regulations plus tracking solutions.
Within the system, petfood manufacturers can collect detailed
information on each individual product through the entire
manufacturing process including processing, packaging and
The Print and Apply Labeler with Sato print engine from
Exact Packaging Inc. is intended to address manufacturing label
printing requirements. The print system is designed to
integrate with case and corner labeling systems, or can be
added to your packaging equipment for product labeling. The EPI
labeler can be utilized to print production and lot numbers,
bar codes, product information and more, according to the
The Protecta Pack Hibrid from EDL Packaging Engineers offers
the protection of sleeve wrappers with the flexibility of a
stretch wrapper. According to the company, this system combines
bundling and stretch wrapping technologies, applying a sleeve
of poly foam, bubble wrap, LDPE or high abuse film to protect
the top, bottom, leading and trailing faces and edges of a
package. More film is then applied to help secure the package's
integrity. The Hibrid system wraps random sized products and
adjusts the tension of the stretch film to the shape and size
of the product, states EDL.
Eagle Packaging Machinery has introduced a self-locking
carton tray forming machine for octagonal-shaped boxes. Using
flat, blank cartons, this machine automatically folds and tucks
the eight panels to the box and locks them in place, saving
manufacturers time and money. Maximum output speed is 20 trays
per minute, according to Eagle. Standard features include a
touch screen control panel. The sealed ball bearing v-wheels
add reliability and longevity to the machine, the company says.
Optional features include a pre-load station, which enables
operators to load a full stack of blanks while the unit is in
operation, an air hose for quick debris removal and an auto
Now is the time for packagers, producers, marketers and manufacturers to capitalize on the traveling with pets trend
Safe, nutritious, tasty petfood requires careful handling and processing of raw meat ingredients
Read in-depth information on the latest and greatest in packaging, check out the research behind the innovations and peruse a photo gallery
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