Foam packaging cushions the blow

9 Min Read
Foam packaging cushions the blow

When companies begin their search for new packaging solutions, one common need usually arises: The packaging must protect the product held within. This need for protection certainly was a common thread between corporate giant Honeywell Corp. and family-owned Lentros Eng. during their respective quests for protective packaging that could secure their products during shipping.

Because the products packed by these companies vary greatly in size, shape, weight and type–even within each organization–both sought a versatile packaging solution that would provide superior cushioning properties for multiple products. Emerging as a second common thread between the two, both selected the Instapak® Quick™ foam-in-bag packaging solution from Sealed Air Corp.

A cost-effective alternative
Instapak Quick is just one of the protective packaging systems from Sealed Air that uses the company's Instapak® polyurethane foam packaging. Instapak consists of a polyethylene film bag, made from Sealed Air's Instamate® film, designed for high strength and flexibility, that holds a liquid polyurethane foam that can expand up to 200 times its liquid volume.

As opposed to high-end Instapak systems that enable the operator to create and fill the bags with foam in-house, Instapak Quick provides the benefits of foam-in-bag packaging without the upfront investment. Users purchase the premade bags, available in five sizes ranging from 15 x 18 to 20 x 30 in., in quantities from 48 bags/case to 30 bags/case, respectively, along with the Instapak Quick warmer.

1. The bag is removed from the warmer, and is unfolded and laid on a flat surface. 2. Pressure is applied to an area on the lower left side of the bag to open the inside seal. 3. Parts 'A' and 'B' are kneaded back and forth, mixing the foam components inside and causing the bag to expand. 5. The bag is placed in the shipper, and the product is nestled onto the cushion. 5. A second bag is placed on top of the product, and the case flaps are closed. 6. The second bag expands around the product and against the top flap of the shipper, for a custom-fit top cushion.

The warmer, with a 15-bag capacity, conserves operating space, with a compact footprint of 13.5 x 8.25 x 5 in. According to Sealed Air, the Quick warmer is simple to maintain and requires no technical support to operate. (See graphics for a step-by-step description of how Instapak Quick is used to cushion products.)

Providing custom-fit foam packaging, the solution minimizes the amount of packaging used, without compromising the protection of shipped goods, Sealed Air says. In addition, Instapak is also produced without chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) or hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), which have been associated with the depletion of the ozone layer. After use, the foam compacts to approximately 10 percent of its volume in a landfill. Biostable, the material will not degrade to pollute air or ground water.

'Quick fix' becomes the standard
When Honeywell purchased a calibration laboratory in '99 in Fort Collins, CO, it switched to Instapak Quick packaging to meet the high packaging standards that an operation of that type required. The switch also enabled it to meet the American Association for Laboratory Accreditation standards for laboratory safety and shipping of the sensitive test equipment the company repairs, calibrates and certifies under the Honeywell Loveland name.

"When we began searching for a new packaging solution, the costs for a large foam-in-place system were too high for our budget," explains Jeanette Wall, shipping manager for Honeywell Loveland. "Initially we looked to Instapak Quick as a 'quick fix,' but we have continued to use it because it provides the product protection we need and it is easy to use."

Currently, the calibration laboratory ships 25 to 35 pieces of certified equipment each day, 95 percent of which is cushioned by Instapak Quick. "It is very important that the equipment arrives at our customer's location in the same quality that it leaves Honeywell," Wall explains, "especially since we are providing certification that the equipment works properly."

Each year, when Honeywell Loveland's customers send their equipment back to the calibration lab for annual certification, they are able to use the same foam cushioning in which the equipment was shipped. Dan Hart, sales representative with Packaging Resources Colorado, who introduced Honeywell Loveland to Instapak Quick, says, "In addition to product protection, other factors important to Honeywell were presentation and convenience. They really liked that their customers could repack and resend the equipment in the same packaging."

Custom-fit impresses
For Lentros Engineering, a machining and mold manufacturing shop in Ashland, MA, the packaging protection afforded by Instapak Quick foam-in-bag packaging provides peace-of-mind. Says Jim Towne, shipping and receiving manager for Lentros, "We want to ensure that our products get to our customers safe and sound, and that they will not have to be sent back due to damage.

"I am especially glad that we use Instapak Quick packaging, because for every outgoing shipment, I must personally sign a document stating each product is adequately protected," he adds.

After researching various packaging alternatives, including peanuts, paper pulp loosefill and air-filled packaging, executives at Lentros watched a demonstration of Instapak Quick. Recalls Wall, what impressed them was the unique way the foam forms around the product to provide superior cushioning and protection.

Because Instapak Quick packaging helps to prevent product damage during the shipping cycle, the money that Lentros spends on the foam-filled bags is offset by the elimination of damage costs. Also, since Lentros is located in a small facility, the company likes that the packaging system does not require a large amount of space or changes in logistics.

A foam for all reasons
A testament to its versatility and ease-of-use, Instapak Quick has cushioned the blow of many a size and shape of product within Honeywell Loveland and Lentros. Says Sealed Air's Ray Hill, "Each day we learn about a new company that is using Instapak Quick packaging to protect its products during shipment. From people working out of their homes to small-business owners to large corporations, the foam-in-bag packaging is proving to benefit all types and sizes of businesses."

More information is available:

Foam-in-bag packaging system: Sealed Air Corp., 203/791-3500. Circle No. 238.

Foam packaging representative: Packaging Resources Colorado, 970/484-0903. Circle No. 239.

Sensible sensor packaging solution

A clearly different protective packaging solution from Sealed Air with favorably similar results is the company's Korrvuw retention packaging, which uses a transparent elastomeric film to entrap a product within a proprietary retention frame secured in a shipping container. Requiring no investment in equipment, and offering space-saving benefits, as well as versatility, and enhanced product appearance and protection, Korrvu at once appealed to Carl Ballard, a purchasing agent for Sensotec, Inc., during his search for a packaging solution for his company's products. Sensotec, a Columbus, OH-based manufacturer, produces and ships a broad line of sensors ranging in price from $300 to more than $500,000 for pressure, torque, load, temperature, force, vibration and displacement equipment in the automotive, medical, marine propulsion, and oil and gas industries.

Ballard says Sensotec had considered purchasing a skin-packaging machine, but a careful review of its current warehouse setup determined that the unit would take up too much valuable warehouse space. In addition, if the machine became inoperable, productivity would be hindered. Also, the sheer size of the skin-packager would mean that after the sensors were assembled, they would have to be moved to the machine to be packaged–not the optimal approach, given the sensitivity of the sensors. Korrvu retention packaging, which can be utilized anywhere on the production floor, uses a proprietary corrugated retention frame and elastomeric film to hold a product securely in place during shipment. When the side flaps of the corrugated retention frame are folded up, the resilient film is loosened, creating an insertion pocket. The product is placed in the pocket between the film and the corrugated retention frame. When the flaps are folded down, the film, which is attached to the corrugated surface, stretches over the product and holds it securely in place. Then, the product enclosed in Korrvu is placed in a custom-size corrugated case for shipment.Before switching to Korrvu, the Sensotec customer service department says it was fielding up to 10 calls per week from customers who thought they had not received the calibration certification, accessories or operating instructions with their order. "When we used other packaging materials, such as peanuts or shredded paper, important product components were obscured," explains Ballard, "consequently, they were being accidentally discarded by the customer."With Korrvu, the easy design and construction of the packaging allows the calibration certificate to be placed on top of the product, within the packaging. The shipper knows the certificate is there, and the customer can see the certificate as soon as they open the box.Another benefit of the new packaging solution is the time and material savings. In the past, Sensotec employees had to put one box inside of another to make sure the equipment was protected. Now, in most instances, employees can put a label directly on the Korrvu retention packaging box and ship it out–without ever over-packing.Before the introduction of Korrvu packaging, Sensotec employees also spent more time determining how to package a product than they did actually packaging it, which Ballard says cut into the company's productivity levels. "Now all of the guesswork about how much packaging material should be used has been eliminated, and employees are spending about seventy-five percent less time packaging," he says."Initially, we would locate whatever size box was handy and then stuff it with what we thought was enough shredded paper and peanuts to keep the equipment from moving around," Ballard explains. "We now work with two sizes of Korrvu to package seventy percent of our 35,000 active products."Korrvu also allows Sensotec employees to package sensors in packaging stations around the warehouse. Prior to Korrvu, after a sensor was assembled, it was sent to another group of employees for packaging. Now the team that assembles a sensor also packages it, giving the team a sense of completion.More information is available:Retention packaging: Sealed Air Corp., 203/791-3500. Circle No. 238.

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