We have all heard it, continuous improvement. Companies with a team of individuals that find efficiencies in their product, manufacturing process, quality management, inventory, etc.
But what is missing on that list? Packaging!
At BoldtSmith Packaging, we work with such a large variety of product manufacturer’s. For one project, we may be designing a gusseted pouch for bird seed shipping into Petco and on the next project, a metal crate shipping windshields for bulldozers assembled in India. Often these companies are great at finding efficiencies with their product but completely miss opportunities related to continuous improvement (CI) with packaging. This is where BoldtSmith Packaging comes in!
First, let’s start with some basics. Outlined below is a quick overview of what continuous improvement is and why it’s important. Then we will dive into how this relates to packaging and some specific examples of continuous improvement projects BoldtSmith Packaging has executed.
What is Continuous Improvement
The never ending strive to perfection is a great way to summarize what continuous improvement is. Whether that be a product, a service, process or in this particular example, packaging. Achieving perfection isn’t necessarily an attainable goal, but the strive for perfection is. Focusing on minimizing negative effects of the process is crucial to be successful with continuous improvement.
There are a wide variety of CI models but today we will focus on the model that BoldtSmith Packaging uses. This is often referenced as the Deming Circle.
The first step is planning, objectives need to be determined. This step determines what the goals and objectives of the project are. Determining if these goals and objectives were achieved at the end of the project will be provide the data as to whether or not the project was successful.
The second step is Do. This step is completing the work necessary to achieve the goals and objectives outlined in step number one.
After completing the Do step, the work needs to be compared against the goals and objectives to determine if the project has been successful. If not, then the process needs to begin again
The last step of the process assuming the project was deemed a success is execution. The new method is implemented.
History of Continuous Improvement
After the defeat of Japan in World War II, America wanted to encourage Japan to rebuild; to accomplish this, General MacArthur asked leading experts from the United States to visit Japan and advise them on how to proceed with the rebuilding process. One of these experts was Dr. W. Edwards Deming. Deming was a statistician with experience in census work, so he came to Japan to set up a census. While in Japan, he noticed some of the difficulties being experienced by some of the newly emerging industries.
Deming taught Japanese businesses to concentrate their attention on processes rather than results; concentrate the efforts of everyone in the organization on continually improving imperfection at every stage of the process. By the 1970s many Japanese organizations had embraced Deming’s advice and were benefiting from their actions.
Despite that much of the foundation of continuous improvement and other Japanese concepts originated in the United States, Western companies showed little interest until the late 1970s and early 1980s. By then the success of Japanese companies caused other companies to begin to reexamine their own approaches. Continuous improvement is now a well known process used across the world.
Why Continuous Improvement Matters
The strive for perfection that is continuous improvement is one of the ways that businesses are successful in comparison to their competition. Companies constantly seeking to have an edge over their competition or to better service their customers and employees increase their likelihood of success. Whether that be a small start up operating in their garage to a fortune 100 company with 300 manufacturing plants around the world. The same concept of continuous improvement applies.
Companies dominating their particular field need to continually be on the hunt on how to be better through increased efficiency. Communication from the highest level within a company that the strive for perfection is a discipline that must be accepted in order to remain competitive in today’s fast moving landscape.
Continuous Improvement – Packaging
Now that we have all become familiarized with continuous improvement, how does that relate to packaging? Packaging is just the means of getting the product to the customer, or is it? When a new customer reaches out to us, we like to gauge what potential opportunity exists for continuous improvement. Below are a few questions we typically ask that gives us a quick snapshot into the potential opportunity:
- What is your annual packaging spend?
- What is your annual freight spend?
- What are your annual labor costs to package your products?
It’s very common for us to be engaged on projects with customers where we are saving them 20-40% off their freight and packaging materials costs. If their current spend is $10 million annually, we could be saving our customer 2-4 million dollars annually.
CI related to packaging covers a huge variety of potential opportunities. Does it include processes associated with packing up products on an automated line? Yes! Does it include consolidation of packaging materials for reduction of inventory? Yes!
It can be difficult for companies to go through the 4-step process outlined earlier for CI without a dedicated packaging engineer or team. This is where BoldtSmith Packaging can help you without the financial obligation of a packaging engineering team. We will identify, design, sample, test and implement optimized packaging solutions that will give you the best possible solution.
The first step to begin this process involves completing a packaging assessment to identify what the packaging opportunities are. This is one of the services we provide at BoldtSmith Packaging where one of our team members comes onsite to your facilities to identify all potential packaging solutions. This information will be documented and presented to your organization. Click the below link to learn more details on the packaging assessment.
Continuous Improvement Example – Water Bottles
Remember when plastic water bottles became popular in the 1990’s? The water bottles were heavy duty with large caps and shipped in corrugated boxes. Now think of that in comparison to what the packaging is for today’s plastic water bottles. The bottles have been light weighted, the caps are tiny and they ship in a corrugated tray or pad with shrink wrap. So, what caused this change?
This change happened because of continuous improvement! The landscape got more competitive, which means companies had to find ways to provide a better product at less cost. Packaging is one of the key ways a company can do this! Let’s break down a few of the continuous improvement projects related to water bottle packaging.
|Water Bottle Material||Heavy duty bottle||Light weight bottle||Material cost reduction|
|Water Bottle Size||Not optimized to fit on a 48”x40” pallet||Designed to fill out a 48”x”40 pallet||Freight cost reduction|
|Water Bottle Cap||Heavy duty design and material||Light weight design and material||Material cost reduction|
|Water Bottle Label||Large label||Small label||Material cost reduction|
|Master Carton Box||Heavy duty box||Tray with shrink film||Material and freight and cost reduction|
What would have happened to a big water brand like Nestle Pure Life if they did not make the above changes to their packaging and all their competition did? It is highly likely that they wouldn’t be able to compete when bidding against their competition given their higher costs associated with packaging material and transportation costs.
Contact BoldtSmith Packaging to learn more about how we can identify, plan, execute and review better packaging solutions for you!