Pierce Covert

May 7, 2014

3 Min Read
The secret to reducing packaging costs?

When was the last time you thought about the adhesive system in your packaging process? When it comes to reducing packaging costs, the adhesive systems used in packaging applications are often ignored or overlooked. Adhesive systems are located at the end of most major packaging lines, and they’re usually one of the last components to be considered for an upgrade, even though they’re an integral part of the packaging process.

Most packaging companies think about adhesive costs like this: “Is the correct amount of low-cost adhesive being applied to produce sufficient bonds for quality packaging?” If the answer to that question is “yes,” they move on rather than dig deeper. The reality is that the right adhesive system can have a huge impact on your overall packaging costs—but you need to take a closer look.

Adhesive system wear and tear increases packaging costs over time

Most new hot melt/cold glue adhesive systems installed on packaging lines require very little maintenance initially, because all of the tanks, hoses, guns, filters and nozzles are clean and the solenoids and seals are all new. So, at first, the packaging costs associated with adhesive systems are low. 

However, after a few years of operation the costs associated with adhesive systems increase, with scheduled maintenance fees, line downtime due to problematic equipment, poorly bonded packages at the plant, dirty package machinery, damaged packages and new parts that must be purchased. Adhesive system costs typically don’t spike overnight, but rather increase gradually in a way that can mask their true impact on growing packaging costs.

When adhesive systems cause packaging lines to stop, costs skyrocket

If an element in your adhesive system isn’t operating properly and the packaging line has to be stopped, you lose both time and money. Case in point: A representative at a large pharmaceutical packaging facility recently told us that their unrecoverable costs due to a line downtime ran in the tens of thousands of dollars per hour. In some applications, the hourly downtime due to problematic adhesive machinery was well in excess of what it would cost to buy a brand-new system.

Trying to work around the problem can be more costly than solving it

To try to avoid situations like the ones described above, some companies with high-speed packaging applications have installed redundant adhesive systems, so there’s a “backup” system available at all times—and of course this backup system comes with its own installation and maintenance costs. Then there’s also the problem of poorly glued packages, which must be removed from the line to be repaired or repacked. This situation is so common that many factories have personnel whose sole job is to glue boxes that aren’t properly sealed in the automated packaging process—a wholly redundant expense.

Bigger than all the other costs mentioned, however, are the costs associated with defective packages that make their way to the customer or the end user. Unsold products, returns, additional shipping costs, warranty claims and customer dissatisfaction are the end result of a poorly glued package that makes it into the market.

Replacing technology makes good business sense

If your company wants to reduce its packaging costs, it’s worth taking a fresh look at your adhesive system. Normal wear and tear on your adhesive equipment can make it less effective and efficient over time, increasing your overall costs and causing issues for the packaging process and the end user. Replacing old adhesive machinery with new equipment is a surefire way to reduce packaging costs.

Pierce Covert is the president of Glue Machinery Corp. which builds, sells and services industrial hot melt and cold glue systems used worldwide by a wide range of manufacturers.


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