Heavier Doesn’t Always Mean More Durable

Posted on Jan 13, 2016

Laminations® solves company’s packaging problem with light, but durable paperboard 

It’s a manufacturer’s nightmare. You build a magnificent product. You package it up for transport, and you ship it out. Then comes the dreaded phone call from your customer. Your product has arrived damaged.

For Tuscan Iron Entries, a manufacturer of custom-made ornamental iron doors – doors that can weigh in excess of 1,000 pounds – this nightmare was playing out way too often, and it was beginning to keep its owners up at night.

The solution, however, wasn’t what you might think. It wasn’t adding heavy packaging materials. In fact, it was just the opposite. The solution was laminated paperboard from Laminations®.

The problem Tuscan was experiencing stemmed from the sheer size and weight of the doors themselves. With such a heavy and expensive product to ship, they believed the protective packaging had to be equally substantial. They were using metal racks and wooden crates because that seemed to be the most durable packaging material available, said Aneel Siddiqui, one of two brothers who co-own Tuscan.

But despite this “highly durable” protective packaging, the doors were still sometimes arriving at their destination damaged. In fact, Aneel believes the packaging was actually contributing to the damage.

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“Because the doors are so heavy, we thought the packaging had to be substantial too, which meant it was also heavy. With all that weight, the shippers would often drag the crates with a forklift. They would wrap chains around the doorframes that were partially exposed in the crate. They’d pull a whole crate by the doorframe and in the process bend the frame,” he said.

And that wasn’t the only frustration facing Tuscan. High material costs and the time it took to construct the packs were also causing concern.

“The wood crate, the metal racks – they were very expensive. Plus it would take two workers a full day to pack a door for shipment. That’s 16 man-hours just to get a door out the door. It was ridiculous,” said Imran Siddiqui, Tuscan co-owner.

The packaging issues were also compromising Tuscan’s long-term growth plans. Currently Tuscan only ships its doors to distributors within a close proximity of its manufacturing facility in Collierville, Tenn., a suburb of Memphis. But they envision a future where they can sell and ship doors directly to customers across the country. This will mean using common carriers and exposing the packs to frequent cross docking, something they feel their metal and wood packs would fail at.

Fortunately for Tuscan, Todd Shaw, vice president of sales at Associated Packaging, Inc., and its longtime packaging partner, had also recognized the problem and was in pursuit of a solution.

Associated Packaging is a national single-source solution for total packaging programs based in Gallatin, Tenn. Its packaging specialists, customer/technical service personnel and partnerships with the premier sources for equipment, systems integration, supplies and parts have been keeping businesses at the forefront of packaging for more than 35 years.

“My first thought was a vendor who produced foam blocks,” said Shaw. “The blocks would be placed on the corners and in the middle of the door and then everything would be wrapped in corrugate. That helped keep the doors and their frames from being exposed so they couldn’t be wrapped with chains. While it was definitely faster than the foam and bubble wrap they were using, it still didn’t provide the needed protection.”

Fortunately for Shaw, the answer he was seeking walked through his front door, in the person of Suzanne von Valtier, his Laminations account manager who has worked with him for many years.

“Suzanne came in for her quarterly presentation – this one happened to feature the protection of large windows – and the light bulb went on for me,” said Shaw. “As soon as I saw how she was using Laminations products to protect these large windows, I knew the same concept would work for Tuscan’s doors.”

So he took her to meet with Aneel and Imran, and they were immediately sold on the idea. “Suzanne was great. She started showing us pictures and we really liked the product, especially how clean it looked once it was all done,” said Aneel.

The pictures von Valtier showed not only depicted Laminations’ ability to protect large windows, but heavy items as well, like large air conditions and recreational vehicles, all with laminated paperboard.

“I fell in love with their doors the minute I saw them,” said von Valtier. “And I knew we could protect them. They make the most beautiful wrought iron entry way doors that you can imagine.”

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With the help of Laminations’ engineering team, von Valtier determined the packaging solution was going to be a two-step process. First, each door needed to be individually protected so it did not get marred. Then, a protective frame would be required to safeguard the integrity of the door and frame combined – what von Valtier calls the “rib cage.”

Her tools of choice were Laminations VBoard®, PF PalletTop® and FlatBoard®. VBoard is a laminated recycled paperboard with a rigid right-angle shape. It is available in a variety of lengths and calipers, and is typically used on box or product corners and edges to stabilize and contain loads and distribute weight evenly. PF PalletTop is two pieces of notched VBoard riveted together on both ends. When unfolded they form a sturdy square or rectangular shape that fits tops, sides, or bottoms of palletized loads. It can also hold vertical VBoards in place in order to unitize, stretch wrap and band loads. FlatBoard is customized edge and corner protection that is used within a larger protective packaging solution. It comes in widths up to 90 inches and lengths up to 196 inches, with standard caliper options ranging from .08 inches to .22 inches. It is often used as a wraparound protection for elongated items, offering superior puncture and impact resistance.

Von Valtier recommended FlatBoard to wrap each door because of its ultimate protection value. By adding foam cubes, placed strategically between the door and the FlatBoard, not only would each door be completely covered, but also cushioned for added protection while in transit.

To construct the rib cage, von Valtier and the Laminations’ engineering team started with a wood pallet as the base that is 110 inches x 40 inches. On each corner of the pallet, an 80 inch .500 caliper VBoard is placed vertically by stapling it to the pallet. A 110-inch x 40-inch PalletTop is then stapled to the top of the VBoard pieces, creating a box frame. To give it added protection and keep it from racking, eight additional VBoard pieces run diagonally up all four sides from the corners of the pallet base to the PalletTop.

The doors are then banded to the rib cage frame to keep all the pieces upright. Finally, the entire pack is covered in a white pallet wrap, preventing anything from getting inside the frame.

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“My favorite part of the solution is the use of the VBoard to create the box around the whole pack,” said Aneel. “And then using the pallet wrap to make it look like one solid cube. It makes our product so much less susceptible to damage. The truckers can’t see the doorjamb to wrap a chain around. Now they have to grab it from the bottom where they’re supposed to.”

“With our previous packaging process, for every 10-12 doors we’d ship, we’d get one to two calls with a problem. So far with Laminations, we’ve not had any calls about damage and no claims,” said Imran.

And that’s not the only improvement. Assembly time for the packs has gone from 16 hours to six hours, and they’re saving 50 percent on their packaging materials costs. The use of paperboard has also cut their shipping weight on each pack by 10 percent to 15 percent.

“I can’t say enough about how well this solution is working,” summed up Shaw. “It succeeds on everything Aneel and Imran were looking for. It’s better protection. It’s faster to package. The packaging materials take up less storage space in their facility. And it’s an environmental hit.”

For Tuscan, Laminations paperboard protective packaging truly is a dream come true.

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