Rackable pallet facilitates kit assembly

Packaging Digest Staff

February 1, 2014

5 Min Read
Rackable pallet facilitates kit assembly

Coordination and communication are critical when a contract packager is involved in a national new-product rollout. But as the Contract Packaging Division of Packaging Unlimited can attest, these two Cs are absolutely vital if a customer must react to a product recall. One of the largest contract packagers in the U.S., Packaging Unlimited, Louisville, KY, recently had to respond to such a recall situation. Its prompt assembly and shipment of five types of repair kits


on special pallets proved a vital service to a major customer's response to a recall of household appliances. According to Packaging Unlimited, its customer had issued product recalls on five models of the appliance and had an immediate need for the assembly of five different repair kits for distribution to repair centers throughout the country. Says project manager Kelly Papp, "The job required the assembly, packing and delivery of more than 900,000 appliance repair kits in all. Each of the five different kits consisted of seven to ten components–some of which included screws, bolts, wire connectors, sensors, small tubes of silicone and other items–sourced from multiple suppliers."

Papp assembled team members from the Contract Packaging Div.'s design, planning, scheduling, materials-sourcing, information-technology, quality, production and shipping departments to start working on the kit-assembly project.

150603-1102pack3.jpg During the initial phase of the project, the customer's manufacturer's representatives also worked out of space in Packaging Unlimited's 800,000-sq-ft facility, which encompasses more than 1.4 million sq ft of manufacturing and warehousing space. To lower costs, Packaging Unlimited shipped cases loaded with the kits on a specially sized SureStacker™, a patented corrugated pallet developed by Pallets Unlimited, another subsidiary of the company. Strong and durable enough to be racked in a warehouse, the SureStacker pallets were made using rugged corrugated materials from Tri-Wall, Inc.

Customized to suit
Tested and certified according to ASTM standards for stacking strength and stiffness, support, and functionality on material handling equipment, the SureStacker pallets are designed to handle a 560-lb payload. Engineered to ship products ranging from delicate light bulbs up to 2,500-lb quantities of converted sheet steel, the pallets met Packaging Unlimited's expectations, says Papp. "We found them to be less expensive and lighter than others, and they can be individually designed to meet a customer's specifications for size, weight and entry."

The team designed and fabricated a 7 x 7 x 1-in., 200#-test, E-flute corrugated tray, slotted and die-cut to hold specific kit components. The trays were assembled, shrink-wrapped and loaded into 21.5 x 7.5 x 9.75-in., 32 ECT shippers, 24 trays per case.

Cases for the repair kits were stretch-wrapped on a nonstandard 48 x 38-in. corrugated pallet holding 36 cases each. The pallet consisted of three 3.5 x 3.5 x 48-in. runners. Notched for four-way entry, each runner was made of one strand of what is called "hardboard," and C/A/A-flute triple-wall corrugated supplied by Tri-Wall, which also supplied pallet decks made of 1,100#-test, triple-wall corrugated and a die-cut, double-wall corrugated bottom sheet that allowed the pallets to be moved by a hand truck.

No project is 'routine'
The initial call about the need for repair kits came to Packaging Unlimited on Oct. 22, '01. Because the appliance manufacturer had a regulatory requirement to begin shipping the recall repair kits to the field in early November, Packaging Unlimited began building a partial inventory of packout components that was ready by Oct. 30, when the first shipment of repair kit components arrived in Louisville.

Three weeks after receiving the first call on the job, Packaging Unlimited started to ship the first truckloads of appliance repair kits, meeting the customer's shipping deadline. Additional shipments were scheduled on a daily basis, and all shipments were sent directly to the manufacturer's distribution centers, with a final delivery slated for early January, '02.

Then, the customer discovered that a faulty bushing assembly had been included in a subpackage in all five types of repair kits, so replacement bushings were ordered, and the 220,000 remaining kits had to be reassembled and repacked. As Papp explains, "There's no such thing as a routine project."

Working closely with the appliance customer to rewrite the job specifications, Packaging Unlimited's project management team coordinated to reschedule the job with the new set of parameters, using its capable equipment and an expandable workforce (see sidebar).

Within a few days, additional warehouse space received and segregated the kits with the faulty bushings and revised production and assembly plans to reassemble and repackage the existing repair kit trays.

"As we received replacement bushings, we shipped the first truckload of new repair kits on December 6," Papp recalls. By shipping on a daily basis, Packaging Unlimited was able to fulfill the initial order by mid-January. "We're used to working under fire," she says.

More information is available:

Contract packaging, pallets: Packaging Unlimited, Pallets Unlimited, 502/515-2770. Circle No. 217.

Corrugated: Tri-Wall Inc., a Weyerhaeuser business, 888/874-9255. Circle No. 218.

CPs services in big demand

As one of the largest contract packagers (CPs) in the country, providing services for distribution-intensive packagers and mass-merchandisers, Packaging Unlimited in Louisville operates a facility with 1.4 million-plus sq ft of manufacturing and warehousing space. It also has multiple plant locations and 58 shipping/receiving docks within one day's transit time of more than half of the U.S. consumer market. A vertically integrated organization, the CP has an in-house tool and die department that uses laser technology in cutting-die fabrications to produce tooling from electronically transmitted CAD drawings. An in-house graphic printing plate fabricator translates graphic concepts into production tooling. Converting and printing plate tooling are directly linked with the company's corrugated plants for quick turnaround. The staff coordinates packaging projects starting with conceptual design through material procurement, production and logistics, for national product rollouts, product recalls and focused-market introductions.Whether creating SureStacker pallets, point-of-purchase displays or corrugated setup boxes ranging from a "plain brown" shipper to an elaborate multicomponent packaging kit, the company has the capacity for large and individual projects, and maintains stock to fulfill standard small-quantity needs. It thermoforms packaging components, fabricates molded foam and, from its in-house wood shop, builds wooden support components or entire shipping units.

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