Ellett Brothers, a marketer and supplier of outdoor sporting goods was experiencing multiple problems with its protective packaging. �We were using �peanuts� as loose fill. We were also having problems with storage, customer complaints and product damage,� Todd Grosse, director of operations, Ellett Brothers, explains.
For years it had been using expanded polystyrene peanuts as loose-fill to protect the more than 50,000 different items it shipped. But when customers started to give the company ultimatums, which threatened future business, Ellett Brothers knew it was time to take a serious look at alternatives.
�In addition to product damage and the nuisance of the peanuts sticking to the outside of the package, there was also the issue of disposal,� Grosse says. Ellett Brothers turned to its packaging distributor, xpedx, who in turn, invited Pactiv Corporation to help find a protective alternative.
Pactiv representatives first evaluated the company�s packing requirements and then recommended the Pactiv Air 3000 system. The unit creates on-demand void fill by converting polyethylene roll stock into continuous, perforated chains of air-filled cushions. The cushions are a maximum width of eight inches, with length varying from three to 20 inches. They are perforated between each section, allowing quick tear-off and placement.
To help insure there would be enough pillows to supply its four packing stations, four continuously running Pactiv Air units feed the pillows via a chute up into an overhead bin. (The equipment produces up to 5.5 cubic feet of void fill per minute as needed and offers quick changeover.) Because void-fill cushions are created on demand, inventory and warehousing requirements for preformed cushioning materials are minimized. This turned out to be yet another benefit that Ellett Brothers realized from the changeover.
�We actually had a 48-foot trailer filled with peanuts outside our building. By switching over to the Pactiv Air system, we dramatically reduced inventory space for our packaging,� Grosse says.
Labor was also positively affected. Packing time was reduced 15% to 20% by switching from loose-fill to the Pactiv Air system. �It just takes more time to fill a box using peanuts. With air pillows, you just pull down and insert,� he notes.
Ellett Brothers was so pleased with the results at its Chapin, South Carolina, facility that within a couple of months of the conversion, it switched its marine product division in Newberry, South Carolina, over to the Pactiv Air 3000 system. That facility didn�t have the external space to park a trailer, so upon delivery, the peanuts would be off loaded into bags, which were then placed on the plant floor. That inventory space and labor need was eliminated when two additional Pactiv systems were installed at Newberry.
Furthermore, since no overhead bin had previously been in place at this facility, a customized Pactiv Air Binz was installed over the lines to handle storage and pillow supply down to the two packing lines. And the overall impact on the two operations? On a monthly basis, the Chapin facility ships approximately 25,000 cases and an additional 10,000 cases come out of the Newberry location. In addition to the dramatic decrease in inventory space and the 15% to 20% labor savings, damage is down from approximately five percent to less than one percent.
And the cushions are extremely lightweight � a positive effect on shipping costs and disposal. (When cushions are deflated, the material reduces down to one percent of the inflated volume.)
�Our customers are just thrilled with the change. We have gotten a lot of positive feedback,� Grosse says.
The Pactiv Air 3000 system�s cleanliness, labor-savings and competitive pricing make it ideal for a broad variety of void-fill applications. Ideal target applications include distribution centers and e-commerce pick and place facilities.
Now in its 70th year of business, Ellett Brothers represents such recognized brands as Remington, Winchester, Daisy, Motorguide, Coleman, Easton Archery and Leupold. Ellett Brothers customers include more than 15,000 independent retailers in all 50 states and several foreign countries. The company maintains relationships with more than 1,100 manufacturers and other suppliers.
For more information about Pactiv, visit www.pactiv.com.