Each day, perishable food is carefully packed into Styrofoam coolers and shipped from food processors to consumers, restaurants, and grocery stores. The following is a case study about how one health food and meal provider that ships meals to customers’ doorsteps weekly, received more than just cost savings when it switched from using corrugate containers to shrink-wrapped coolers.
The frozen food, meat processing, and meal plan industries rely heavily on Styrofoam coolers and dry ice for distribution of product to customers – retail, restaurant and consumers alike. Since distribtion is usually individual shipments, logistic providers like UPS or FedEx are used for delivery, which increases the handling versus a large container shipment.
EDL was initially contacted by a health food and meal provider to develop a shrink-wrap system that would replace the company’s large corrugate shippers. The goal was to reduce packaging material costs, eliminate the additional hassle that comes with handling and storing corrugate before the shipment, and eliminate the handling and disposal of corrugate by end users.
EDL worked with the customer to design two systems that not only would replace corrugate with film, but also to design a system that would meet the customer’s exact needs for throughput rate, product size range and footprint limitations. EDL’s modular design and holistic approach allowed us to tailor the systems to meet all of the customer needs as well as incorporate a jib crane so film rolls could be safely loaded onto the system and into place by machine operators.
The two systems use a Side Feed Automatic wrapping system that wraps the foam coolers in a sleeve of LDPE film. The film is then shrunk down to a bull’s eye enclosure, casting to the profile of the cooler. You can see the system in action here:
While the initial driver of the project was to eliminate corrugate from the process, the customer achieved several additional, unexpected benefits:
- The shrink-wrap film tended to hold and lock the foam cooler lid in place, creating a higher quality seal between the cooler and lid. This maximizes the dry ice’s life span and keeps the food cold for longer.
- The shrink-wrap film doubles as a tamper-evident barrier, providing customers a greater peace of mind that the cooler and the food inside is safe.
- The film creates a clean, flat surface ideal for receiving labels (product information/bar codes /shipping information)
- Unlike corrugate, film does not conceal what the product is. When the cooler is shipped via a method where a substantial amount of handling is anticipated (e.g., UPS, FedEx), shipping personnel can see what the product is, which leads to the cooler being handled with more care, rather than being seen as ‘just another box’. As a result, the cooler is more likely to be transported in a traditional, upright position, and is less likely to have other products stacked on top of it.
It is not uncommon for EDL customers to experience additional benefits by switching from corrugate to film – which often outweigh the initial reasoning for switching. As part of EDL’s design process, it’s our goal to help identify these potential added benefits from the outset.
A third system was provided to this food and meal provider shortly after the initial two systems were installed. EDL continues to provide frozen food wrapping solutions to multiple processors throughout the industry, and has provided a similar system to a meat processor that ships frozen meats to customers.
If those are the type of results you’re looking for from a packaging partner, we’d love to talk to you!
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