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KC Boxbottom has been working in the packaging industry since the mid-1970s and has seen it all. The stories are true. Only the names have been changed to protect the innocent. KC can be contacted through his alter ego, John Henry, at email@example.com. Learn more and subscribe to his free newsletter at www.changeover.com.
Adventures in Packaging
The case of the perforated package. “My suckers don’t suck,” Jimmy told me over the phone. “I need some help.” Some things don’t suck; others do. This was clearly a case of the former, and I was on my way to see Jimmy’s problem. When I got to the plant, he showed me his case erector. An arm with two vacuum cups pulled the case blank out of the magazine across the breaker... More
The case of the spotty slacks. I was at Jan’s plant helping out with some OEE (overall equipment efficiency) issues on the packaging line. Everyone had been friendly all week, but now as I walked to the cafeteria I noticed some of the teammates looking at me funny and laughing behind their hands. “What’s up,” I asked Jan. “Why the funny looks?” “Look at your... More
The case of the unstable label“My labels are wandering,” said Kelley. “Well, that’s no good; they need to stay at home where you can keep an eye on them,” I quipped. Kelley didn’t appreciate the humor but asked me to come take a look. The labeler detected the gap between labels with a photo eye to position the label at the edge of the peeler plate. This label was transparent,... More
The case of the short ceilingGerry’s message was garbled. All I could make out was “legs … cut … off. Get here fast.” From the message, I was not sure whether I was going to a packaging line or a crime scene. When I got to the plant Gerry took me to the aseptic clean room (Class 100, laminar flow ceiling). There was a new bottle orienter, lying on its side because it was too tall to... More
The case of the sloppy spec. “Speed is only a question of money. How fast do you want to go?” This is as true on a packaging line as it was in the movie Mad Max. Bobbie was qualifying a new cartoner. He had purchased an inkjet printer for coding and the code quality was horrible so he called me in. I watched them try to run. The ink dots were spread out to the point of illegibility.... More
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