Feature: Should you reconsider your corrugated adhesive tape?

The retail landscape is changing dramatically. As e-commerce thrives, and online retailers make the experience faster and easier, consumers seem increasingly content to shop from the comfort of their home rather than at a physical store.

To underscore the point, as I write this, Sears Holdings just announced it's closing another 63 stores by September 2018. Sears® once seemed the most "all American" of stores. Now, its very survival is in doubt, according to CNN and other media.**

All this is quite a boon for the global courier/parcel segment. According to Accenture, the segment is growing about 5 percent year over year, and is expected to reach $343 billion by 2020.

Under Pressure

But with that growth comes some new pressure for the corrugated container converters who serve it. The growth in demand is coming with an increase in competition and a wave of consolidation. At the same time, the cost of pulp out of Canada is going up as well, for a range of reasons.

From a corrugated container plant manager’s perspective, it’s a double-edged sword: The pressure to do more with less, controlling costs while increasing production. And in such an environment, additional capital investment is not likely. The plant manager needs to work with what’s already on the shop floor.

Finding hidden productivity gains

The good news is hidden productivity gains may be lurking right under that plant manager’s nose. These gains are perhaps rolled up (literally) in a product relied on every day, but which may not get a lot of consideration.

Specifically in reference to the double-sided adhesive tapes laminated to the corrugated as part of the conversion process.

Time and time again, these adhesive products are thought of as a commodity, and have become almost an afterthought in many plants. Converters are ordering the same SKUs over and over again, from distributors who simply haven’t refreshed their product offering in years.

Three steps that will be worth your time

Would you welcome productivity gains, simply from switching to a new adhesive product? I think most would. So whether you lean on my company, Avery Dennison, or other suppliers, I recommend taking the time to take these three actions:

1. Simply reconsider the importance of the double-sided/ double-stick adhesive products you’re using to laminate boxes and other corrugated items. It’s easy to think of these as “just a commodity,” but recent advances in the technology may mean you have opportunities for additional productivity that can make a very noticeable difference to your bottom line.

2. Consider buying these products directly from a manufacturer like Avery Dennison, rather than through a distributor. While distributors can often provide some convenience when it comes to ordering, they simply can’t provide the level of technical and application expertise you’d get when working directly with a manufacturer and its product portfolio.

3. Once you are in contact with a technical expert, carve out some time to get him or her into your plant. This is time well spent. For instance, I help customers pinpoint a product with an adhesive coat weight and finish (full, finger lift, or extended), that’s ideal for their application — that helps them maximize productivity gains. In addition, individuals like myself might be able to literally adjust your machine settings to optimize speed and minimize issues, and offer guidance about preventative maintenance to help you run more efficiently and increase uptime.

One manufacturer’s solution

Even by taking the proactive steps mentioned, you still need to seek the best product for the application. Avery Dennison produces double-coated PET tapes for these applications, featuring an aggressive, rubber-based adhesive engineered to bond to a wide variety of corrugated and poly/plastic materials, including those with a high percentage of recycled content.

  • The adhesive performs in temperatures ranging from -40 to 225° F. So, the plant manager can rely on a single SKU, regardless of the season. This can help streamline ordering and inventory management, saving time and storage space.

  • The PET carrier cuts easily for processing. Because our adhesive options range from 3.0 mil to 7.0 mil (as opposed to competitors’ weights up to 14 mil), there’s less “gumming” of the knives. That translates to less wear and tear on knives, less downtime for cleaning and maintenance, less operator exposure to the knives and thus less chance of injury.

    As a side note, according to one estimate*, a single injury costs an average of approximately $190,000 for the injury itself, and $1.9 million in new revenue to recover from its impact. These figures obviously vary depending on the business, but the bottom line is when you’re looking to increase efficiency and productivity, injury prevention should be a top priority.

  • These tapes are offered at roll lengths of up to 2,000feet; generally longer than our competitors’. We’ll alsomaximize roll length to weight or diameter restrictions on thecustomer’s request. That means lines can stay in operationlonger, yielding more productivity and fewer changeovers.

    How much more productivity? Again, this depends on the business. But as a quick example, by switching to the Avery Dennison product, one customer was able to increase its output by 200 feet per minute. This translated to an additional 96,000 lineal feet per shift and an additional 12,000 boxes per shift.

Switching out your adhesive products — or other commodities — may not be the silver bullet that solves all your challenges. But by taking a fresh look at what’s available, and by leaning on the technical support offered by suppliers, you may be able to make a noticeable impact on your bottom like. Maybe you can find some of those hidden productivity gains.

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