I got back from lunch to find a message from Jimmie. It sounded urgent so I hit him right back.
“KC, I have an odd problem. My labels are going on smooth and straight. Marketing and quality are all over me. You’ve got to help.”
“Jimmie,” I told him, “we seem to have a bad connection. Did you say your labels were going on straight and smooth?”
“I did.” he said.
“And that’s a problem?” I asked.
“Yup.” He told me. “I needed you here yesterday.”
I fired up the magic carpet got there soonest.
Marketing had a new product and wanted it to look like moonshine with hand-pasted labels. Marketing wanted the labels non-uniformly wrinkled and crooked.
Labels were pressure sensitive and speed was a leisurely, for a bottling plant, 120 bpm. It would normally have been a pretty smooth operation but that was Jimmie’s problem.
“I never thought I’d say this but fiddlesticks on smooth labels!” I exclaimed.
“It is a fairly easy problem to solve. The key to smooth labeling is to have everything tight and the bottles under good control. All you need is to do everything wrong. Loosen the labeling head mounting brackets and change the speed of the wrap belt. The instability of the head will give you position variation. Running the wrap belt slightly slow will cause wrinkling.”
“We are packaging professionals, Jimmie. If marketing can dream it, we can make it.”
“Sure,” replied Jimmie. “Even when it gives us nightmares.”
KC Boxbottom, packaging detective, is on the case to solve tough packaging puzzles. He is the alter-ego of John Henry, CPP. Known as the Changeover Wizard, Henry is the owner of Changeover.com, a consulting firm that helps companies find and fix the causes of inefficiencies in their packaging operations. He produces a free monthly newsletter called Lean Changeover, which contains articles and tips on changeover and related issues. Reach him at [email protected].