28 October 2015 //
by Matt Rose
Everyone has heard the saying, “learn from your mistakes.” While this saying does hold true, it implies that failure is acceptable—as long as you learn from it. A good manufacturer does just this, building on the positives, correcting their mistakes, and not becoming complacent with yesterday’s design. And, once a successful new process or design is discovered, it becomes the new benchmark for all subsequent versions.
A great example of the relentless push for innovation founded on prior success is the U.S. truck market. Industry heavyweights Dodge, Ford, and GM continue to aggressively drive innovation year after year, building on their existing positives and advancing their products (and profits).
But in packaging, how does a product manufacturer continue to develop and innovate? Where should you look for equipment solutions to challenges that present themselves?
Think Big Picture and Remove the Blinders
To continually advance design and innovation for a project or product, many times it’s best to step back and draw from a wide range of prior experiences and success. In doing so you’re attacking the challenge from multiple angles. And using successes found in completely unrelated industries can pay dividends on your current project, if integrated correctly.
A perfect example of this is light trucks. Ford introduced an aluminum-alloy chassis in 2015, stepping away from tradition. Many thought this was a preposterous idea since trucks were always been made out of steel, but Ford removed the blinders, and looked at the decades of success lighter aluminum materials had in the aerospace and military industries. This resulted in Ford maintaining its top industry position, with their F-150 product being the best selling vehicle in the U.S.
How EDL Applies Packaging Successes Across Industries
EDL Packaging Engineers embraces the philosophy “learning from your success and experience” and uses it as a blueprint for our machine designs. In order to tailor a machine to a specific application or product, EDL looks at previous machines/applications and relevant design successes/experiences, and then integrates those concepts into the new machine design. The new design is then used as the starting benchmark for future systems.
When a benchmark design becomes a solution that is used repeatedly, EDL refers to it as a ”module.” These modules are EDL’s building blocks—known, proven technology that can be applied across a range of equipment and applications. Following are a three examples of how EDL has applied its successes and experiences to multiple industries and products:
Years ago, a pneumatically operated pick-and-place clamp module was developed to load trays with containers of cheese. This concept was later updated to load packages of napkins into a case, and then revised to a dual-axis, servo-controlled vacuum pick-and-place to load trays with containers of warm (fluid) peanut butter without disturbing/splashing the product.
Today, the advancement in product handling/pick-and-place technology has opened the door to the use of robotics and a strategic partnership between EDL and Yaskawa, with recent integration into dairy and agricultural industries.
Double Tight Wrap technology has proven to be the best method for wrapping cubed-shaped products in a total enclosure versus all previously available technologies. Boxes of medical equipment and stacks of absorbent pads are two examples of product that have benefited tremendously from this technology, originally designed for the pet food industry to wrap small bags of dry kibble.
Tight wrapping bags of pet food into bundles lead to success with bagged products in other industries (dry beans, charcoal, coffee, flour, grass seed, and rice) by using the similar modules but tailoring them to the needs of other industries, products or packaging. Tight wrapping has evolved to include pouches, which provides an alternative to current case packing methods— somewhat comparable to Ford using aluminum instead of steel for its light trucks.
Lastly, EDL’s success and experience wrapping or bagging a variety of rolled products, including foam, carpeting, textiles, and roofing, originated from shrink wrapping rolls of carpet padding. Today, EDL’s roll wrapping capabilities include shrink wrapping rolls in a precisely placed print-registered film.
The packaging industry has long been known to apply experiences from one industry to another. However, when manufacturers are able to continually build on these experiences or step away from what is traditional, then true success can be achieved.
Are you looking to step out of the box and explore new packaging options? Contact us and see how EDL’s success and experiences can be applied to your product.