When it comes to protective packaging, every product has its own set of challenges. For American Standard Brands, the goal is cost-effective, damage-free delivery of the its Fiat brand terrazzo mop basins for institutions with janitor closets, such as schools, hospital, factories and office buildings.
Laminations, part of Great Northern Corp., has created a customized package for the basins that combines the weather resistance and strength of its extruded plastic corner boards with the design of its PF PalletTop and VBoard to deliver the ultimate in shipping and storage protection for the basins.
"Over the years that Laminations has been working with American Standard Brands, we have come to really understand their needs, which has enabled us to be proactive and creative on ways to deliver the best protective packaging solutions to them," says Laminations account manager Suzanne von Valtier.
American Standard Brands is a leading North American manufacturer of a range of high-quality kitchen and bath products, including faucets, fixtures, furniture, vitreous china fixtures, cast iron sinks, whirlpool tubs and other related products. Company brands in include American Standard, JADO, Porcher, Safety Tubs, Crane, Eljer and Fiat.
The company's Fiat mop basins come in a variety of shapes, sizes and styles but all share some basic elements. They are heavy—unit weights start at 250 lbs—and made of terrazzo, a composite precast material made from black and white marble chips in Portland cement.
Protective packaging for the basins needs to not only encompass the shipping and handling but also the storage of the units until they are installed. Over time the solution has evolved from wood-and-wire crates to laminated paperboard to extruded plastic.
"Our standard size terrazzo mop basin is 24x24x12 inches with variations that include footprints of 36x36 inches, 36x24 inches and 32x32 inches," says John Price, purchasing agent for American Standard Brands, FIAT Products.
Basin shapes include square, rectangle or five-sided with 12-inch sidewalls and an optional drop front. Further options include stainless steel caps on the top of all the sidewalls and/or on the dropped-front curb.
From its plant in Somerset, KY, American Standard Brands ships thousands of its terrazzo basins annually to institutional customers throughout North America. The terrazzo needs to be protected from chipping that can lead to breakage. The stainless steel caps need to be protected against scratches. And it all has to happen in a cost-effective way that still delivers maximum protection.
Laminations, an industry leader in edge protection, is providing the answer with its Extruded VBoard product.
Made from strong, weatherproof extruded plastic, Extruded VBoard provides exceptional protection against product damage during shipping and outside storage that exposes products to weather. The PVC-based product takes up less space and is able to provide tighter tolerances than paper edge protections without sacrificing strength. It also is 100-percent waterproof and features a glossy black, high-quality finish.
Standard sizes are available in leg lengths of 1.75x1.75 inches and 2.5x2.5 inches with calipers of 0.060, 0.090 and 0.120 inch. Custom-extruded shapes can be developed for large-volume applications.
For the mop basins, Laminations created an engineered solution that actually replaced its own laminated paperboard packaging with a heavy-duty plastic version that better stands up to the elements. Price explaines the evolution.
From wood to paperboard to plastic
"We used to make these basins in both Albany, GA, and in Somerset, KY, until the Georgia plant was closed in 2010 and we moved all the production to Kentucky," says Price. While the Kentucky plant stores the packaged basins inside before shipping them, the standard practice is to store the terrazzo outside, exposing it to the elements.
Originally, all of the basins were protected using a wood-and-wire crate system, says Price. Those crates consist of thin wooden slats connected by wire and preformed to conform to the basins.
However, wood crates have their own problems when it comes to extended exposure to the elements over time. "With wooden boxes, the creosote or sap can seep out of the wood over a period of time and stain the product," says Price.
So while the wood-and-wire crates are still used for some of the basins, most wooden crates were replaced by a laminated paperboard pack that included VBoard edge protection on the corners and PF PalletTop on the bottom and top.
PF PalletTop consists of two pieces of notched VBoard that are riveted together on the ends and that can be expanded to form a rectangle. The PalletTop pieces are placed on the bottom and top of loads to cap and contain the corner protection of the VBoard on the four corners. In the case of the mop basins, the PF PalletTop conforms to the footprint of the basins. The corner VBoard pieces are 12 inches in length.
Supplied to the Kentucky plant through Breckenridge Paper & Packaging of Sandusky, Ohio, the laminated paperboard solution from Laminations was lighter and less expensive than wood crates and had other advantages such as eliminating the problem of seepage from the wood staining the terrazzo.
However, even the sturdy laminated paperboard could break down over time when exposed to the elements for extended periods, says Price.
When Laminations introduced Extruded VBoard, Todd Hainer, Laminations manager, new business development, envisioned how it could be customized to replace the laminated paperboard protection that American Standard Brands was using in its Georgia and Kentucky plants.
In 2005, Laminations created a solution that replaced the laminated paperboard of the PF PalletTop/VBoard pack with a version made of PVC-based Extruded VBoard.
The Extruded VBoard pack delivers complete protection with zero shipping or handling damage, says Price. The pack is lighter and easier to use than wood and holds up against the elements for outside storage, he adds.
But Laminations hasn't stopped there.
Additional savings in time and materials
Laminations recently created a customized patent-pending version that Price is now testing in which the Extruded VBoard legs are riveted to the plastic PF PalletTop pieces with two hinged legs on alternating corners. The new product is called QuikCorner PalletTop.
"With QuikCorner PalletTop, they flip the hinged legs out and fit a PalletTop with extended legs over the top of the basin," says von Valtier. "They then flip the basin over mechanically and put the other PalletTop piece with extended legs on the bottom of the basin. Now all four corners have Extruded VBoard protection and the top and bottom have Extruded PF PalletTop protection."
The final step is stretch wrapping.
1. A terazzo basin with stainless steel cap is ready to be packaged for shipping. 2. Extruded VBoard corner boards are held in place with tape while the final extruded PalletTop is put in place before stretch wrapping. 3. QuikCorner PalletTop with hinged VBoard legs eliminates the need for tape while cutting the packaging process in half. Bob Matthews, distributor sales rep, demonstrates. 4. A non-rectangular basin is packaged using wood blocks to prevent shifting.
The new QuikCorner PalletTop makes assembly even easier and quicker, says Price, who expects to experience significant additional labor savings. In initial testing, the time to package the basins was cut more by more than half. In addition, QuikCorner PalletTop eliminates the need for taping to hold the corner protectors in place during assembly, further cutting labor and material expenses.
"With the riveted legs already attached, we also can eliminate taping because the legs stay in place during the stretch wrapping, which holds everything together," says Price. "It achieves our goals of protection and quicker assembly."
The creative use of package protection materials to develop customized solutions is a hallmark of Laminations, says Breckenridge Paper & Packaging sales representative Bob Matthews. "As a supplier, we find that having a vendor like Laminations makes customer service a winning proposition all the way around," he says.