Wednesday, December 27, 2017

New Year’s Resolutions for Improving Your Packing Station

Making the most of your packing station
Want to start the new calendar year with better throughput from your packing station? We assembled a panel of four packaging pros from Better Packages and IPG to share their expertise on making the most of a packaging station.

Michelle Adams, Business Development Manager Omni Channel Fulfillment
Jeff Deacon, Sr. Director, Global Market Development
Rob Hoffman, Senior Vertical Sales Manager
Marc Schaible, Business Development Director, Omnichannel Fulfillment

Here are their suggested New Year’s resolutions for making your 2018 packaging station more efficient, productive and safer.

New Year’s Resolution #1: I will take a good hard look at my packing station to make sure it’s set up right.

Advice from the experts:

✓ “The most important consideration in setting up a packaging station can be summed up in one word: Space. Is there enough space for the pack station?” advises Hoffman.
✓ “You need to ensure that the packer has a safe work environment with minimal risk of injury,” suggests Deacon. Adams adds: “One that safely maximizes throughput.”
✓ Adding to that thought, Schaible counsels” Set up your packing station with workflow in mind.”

New Year’s Resolution #2: I will set up my packing station to avoid the most common mistakes companies make.

Advice from the experts:

✓ “The biggest mistake people make when setting up a packing station is not taking into consideration the space that is required to set to set up a pack station properly,” notes Hoffman.
✓ “People not only make it too small; they make it too inflexible so it can’t grow with their needs,” says Schaible.
✓ “Don’t make the mistake of not accounting for growth in volume and carton size,” says Deacon.
✓ “I’d say the biggest mistakes people make are: a lack of efficient design layout; not having any or enough automation; failing to consider mobile packing station and, building on the others’ comments, failing to consider future growth,” adds Adams.

New Year’s Resolution #3: I will follow the 14 Commandments of efficient, effective and safe packaging station design.

Space Planning – Make sure there is adequate space for the station and the type of product that will be processed.

Power Needs – Ensure there is proper electric service at the pack station, preferably hardwired in conduit and metal outlet boxes.  “Extension cord is a no-no!” advises Hoffman.

Plans For Comfort – Two things make for a more comfortable (and productive) shift: a padded floor and a fan (since most shipping areas are not air conditioned).

Ergonomics For All – Realize the pack station needs to be set up to accommodate all associates.  Shorter associates should not have to strain or step up on something to gain access to boxes or packing materials that are stored on shelves. Conversely, a tall associate should not have to bend down to conduct his or her work.

Packing Station Customization – Determine the workflow, power and connectivity hook-up needs. Have a storage strategy and customize your packing station as needs change.

Work Flow Rules – Design the pack station with work flow in mind to keep the associates’ movement to a minimum.  They should not have to walk very far to pick up a product to be packed or to restock their packaging supplies.

Efficient Layout – Identify proper layout of storage for ease of use of packaging supplies like boxes, bags, envelopes, labels, protective packaging like air pillows and other essential supplies.

Critical Equipment – Identify essential equipment needs to improve automation like scanners, computers, scales, electric or hand-operated water-activated tape dispensers and void fill, such as air pillows.

Mechanical Assistance Availability – Consider the possibility of mechanical assistance like lifts and conveyors if there is a need to ship heavy/bulky packages.

Bottleneck Planning – Identify and plan for potential bottlenecks in the order fulfillment process.

Shipping Options – Provide secondary packaging options that match the products being shipped.  For example there should be cartons on hand for hard goods and polybags for goods like apparel.

Productivity Enhancement – Increase packer productivity by creating exact order process steps to reduce inefficiencies in workflow.

Regular Maintenance – Periodically schedule process reviews and safety training.

Growth Planning – Plan for future growth.

Better Packages | Water-Activated Tape Dispensers and Tape

Better Packages offers a complete line of water-activated tape dispensers. Its parent company, Intertape Polymer Group, produces a full line of Central® brand water-activated tape, including reinforced and non-reinforced tape. In addition to providing products for packing stations, the companies help their customers analyze and solve their packing station challenges.

Learn more about maximizing your packing station productivity by downloading this guide.

Monday, December 18, 2017

The Challenge of Shipping Pharmaceuticals

Shipping pharmaceuticals brings with it a unique set of risks. Shipments must arrive on-time, intact and at the right temperature. When a non-medical shipment goes wrong, a customer can be disappointed. But when a pharmaceutical shipment doesn’t go as planned, it can affect the health of a patient. Yet with all the advances in pharmaceuticals, not much has changed in the last 30 years regarding the way pharmaceuticals are transported. Many are still moved from warehouse to retail stores by small regional carriers.

Lives may depend on packaging that guards the integrity of the drugs from the manufacturer to their destination. Package security is one of the most important keys to making that journey safely. Sealing the corrugated shipping carton with water-activated tape represents a critical packaging element. When combined with other critical packaging capabilities like containment and insulation, it gives shippers the peace of mind that their products will arrive safely and intact. It helps take care of two critical issues: Safeguarding outer packaging security, and maintaining the integrity of the package.

Packaging for Security

Keeping drugs secure during shipment is becoming a more and more complex issue.  “As the industry moves from ‘blockbuster’ products to personalized medicine, especially customized treatments for patients with rare diseases, expensive medications with low volume and high value thefts will become the shipping norm. These shipments present extreme challenges in their intrinsic value,” points out Sue Lee, former global technical portfolio manager for World Courier.  

Pharmaceutical shipments demand secure tertiary packaging to make sure they arrive in-tact. Using water-activated tape, also known as gummed paper tape, provides a layer of security evidence that informs the recipient of possible tampering in transit. Once applied, gummed paper tape bonds to corrugated cartons, creating a tamper-proof seal. A carton sealed with water-activated tape can’t be opened without leaving a broken seal.

Maintaining the Seal

Shipping pharmaceutical drug products­ can involve long, complex routes. Guarding against packaging breakdowns along the way is crucial, especially since many of these high-value drugs are shipped through local couriers that handle a variety of small packages. 

An inadequate carton seal is one of the most common causes of damaged shipments. Weight, handling and temperature conditions can cause regular plastic packing tape to separate and threaten the integrity of the packaging during transport. Water-activated tape gives pharma shippers the advantage of a strong and securely sealed carton. Reinforced water-activated tape also offers the security of a layer of fiberglass that’s embedded within for additional strength.

Want Carton Security? Request a Free Tape Sample

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Friday, December 8, 2017

Last-Minute Holiday Shopping and Shipping Tips

There’s still time to get out those business and personal gifts, but deadlines are looming. To make sure you can still delight your recipients, make sure you pack carefully and ship on time.
shutterstock_last minute-1.jpg
Here are a few tips for last-minute gift-givers:
Shop Where They Cater to Procrastinators:  For those of us who put things off until the last minute, there is help. 
  • ✓ Amazon Prime Members receive receive free, 2-day shipping year-round, including right before the holidays. For those who aren’t members, it's not too late.  You can you sign up for a free one-month trial. That means, as long as you order by December 22, you’re in good shape.
  • ✓ Apple offers free, 2-day shipping on all their products. Just make sure you place your order by the end of the work day on December 22 if you want it there by the 24th.
  • ✓ Bed Bath & Beyond’s online cutoff for standard shipping (48 contiguous states) is December 19. Expedited shipping by 12/21 and express by 12/22. Shipping price varies.
  • ✓ Best Buy offers free, 2-day shipping during the holiday season. Order dates differ among product categories.
  • ✓ Macy’s will deliver free with orders over $99. Order by 12/22 and your items will get there by Christmas.
  • ✓ Target is offering free shipping during the holidays and will deliver by 12/25 if you order by December 20.
You’ll find a list of other retailers who cater to the last-minute shoppers in an article in the magazine Real Simple.
Know the Deadlines for Shipping:  Here are key shipping dates at major shipping carriers:
FedEx Christmas Shipping Deadlines (within the U.S.)
Dec. 15 – Deadline for FedEx Ground shipments
Dec. 18 – Deadline for FedEx Home Delivery shipments
Dec. 19 – Deadline for FedEx Express Saver shipments
Dec. 20 – Deadline for FedEx 2-Day and 2-Day A.M. shipments
Dec. 21 – Deadline for FedEx Standard Overnight, Priority Overnight, First  Overnight shipments
Dec. 25 -  Deadline for all FedEx SameDay shipments

UPS Christmas Shipping Deadlines (within the U.S.)
Dec. 18 – Deadline for UPS 3-Day Select shipments (delivered Dec. 22)
Dec. 20 – Deadline for UPS 2nd Day Air shipments (delivered Dec. 22)
Dec. 22 – Deadline for UPS Next Day Air shipments (delivered Dec. 23)
Dec. 24 & 25 – No pickup or delivery services.  (UPS Express Critical services available)

USPS Christmas Shipping Deadlines (within the U.S.)
Dec. 15 – Deadline for Standard Parcel Post shipments
Dec. 20 – Deadline for First Class Mail and Priority shipments
Dec. 23 – Deadline for Priority Express Mail shipments

Pack it Right. Gifts that are packed incorrectly risk being damaged in shipment or waylaid during transit.  FedEx alone expects to ship over 22 million packages, so you don’t want your package to get lost in the shuffle. 
The biggest packing mistakes people make are:
  •  Not using a new box. Using an old box could mean it won’t be strong enough to withstand the trip.  And if the box still has old shipping labels or bar codes on it, shipping machines might have trouble sending it to the right destination.
  •  Not padding the contents well with air pillows to cushion the journey. The rule of thumb is if a package isn’t bulging slightly when you push it down, it’s not packed securely enough.
  •  Not sealing the package right. Packages sealed with the wrong tape could open during transit. Use water-activated tape to seal packages and apply it in an H-pattern. This will assure you that the package will stay sealed during shipping.
Check out these additional last-minute shopping and shipping tips from NBC News.
Surprise and delight those on your gift list with a present that arrives on-time and looking special by shopping, packaging and shipping with the journey in mind. And Happy Holiday from all of us at Better Packages and the Intertape Polymer Group.