Getting products into big box and club retailers is competitive. Along with strict product quality standards, timely completion of orders and quick shipping turnarounds must be met to stay on retail club shelves.

Sticky Situation

For one retail warehouse club supplier and a frozen food processor, packager and distributer in the southern U.S., the ability to maintain these standards and demand was jeopardized by a supplier error early last year. The supplier, manufacturer of the processing company’s chipboard packaging cartons in which many of their products are packaged, sent a large shipment of 70,000 cartons without pre-applied adhesive tapes. These missing adhesive tapes were needed to seal the cartons after they were filled with frozen foods during production.

The food processor quickly determined that replacing the carton order would take too much time and began searching for a sealing solution that would still allow for on-time delivery of the products to their club retail customer. There were two added challenges: any solution needed to withstand a sub-zero environment as well as meet food safety criteria.

A Solution to Seal the Deal

Needing an adhesive solution that could be implemented quickly and easily, and scaled up rapidly to meet production needs, the processing company’s management team started investigating an array of adhesive solutions including hot melt, adhesive tapes and pressure sensitive adhesive (PSA) patterns. The search led them to Glue Dots, a leading provider of adhesive solutions across a variety of industries. After contacting the company, a sales manager called and listened to the processor’s challenge, which included the cold environment and tight timeframe. The Glue Dots sales manager thought that one of their adhesive formulas designed for carton repack, repair and assembly in refrigerated environments could be adapted for this unique application.

Glue Dots and the processor agreed to swap samples — Glue Dots adhesive pattern samples that were possibly compatible with the challenge were sent to the processor for testing on the chipboard carton substrate, and a sample of the chipboard was shipped to Glue Dots to test. After testing the formula, both parties determined the samples worked, even in a challenging sub-zero environment.

Less than two weeks after finding Glue Dots, exchanging samples and testing adherence to the substrate, the first shipment — 800 rolls of Glue Dots® 8100 Pressure Sensitive Adhesive patterns — arrived at the processor’s facility. With the help of the sales manager and using the dimensions of the cartons, the processor was able to calculate the total amount of adhesive needed to fill the club retailer’s purchase order. The entire initial order amounted to 4,000 adhesive rolls measuring 162,000 linear yards.

Efficiency and Reliability Secured

The club retailer’s orders were large, but the frequency of the orders was intermittent. Because the processing facility was not automated for handling this particular product line, the processor added 12 Dot Shot® Pro handheld applicators to the order, which are compatible with the adhesive patterns, to help expedite the orders. The applicators are lightweight and portable, require no heat or electricity to operate and seamlessly integrate into any production process with minimal staff training. Efficiencies afforded by the applicators were especially important to the processor, considering the remaining time window left to fulfill its order.

With technical support from Glue Dots and its distributor, the processor devised a system for sealing the cartons. The PSA patterns are easy to apply instantly using the handheld applicator — simply press and pull. With this approach, the first set of carton flaps were sealed at room temperature, staged, and then filled with frozen product. After that step, they were sealed in a room with a temperature range between 50˚ and 60˚F, well below the desired room temperature of 72˚. The product was packed in a master carton and stored at 0˚ to –10˚F before being shipped to retail.

Finding a Home in the Cold

“We knew the 8,100 pressure sensitive adhesive patterns performed well in cold temperature applications, but not to the degree they have performed for this customer,” said Ron Ream, national industrial sales manager for Glue Dots. “Since every application is different, we advise our customers to test each new application to make sure the adhesive is right for the application.”

After one year, the emergency solution the food processor employed worked so well that it’s now a fixture in the facility’s packing operation. The PSA patterns exceeded expectations for reliability. Due to the success of the application on the first order, the Glue Dots distributor servicing the processor’s account made extra inventory available in anticipation of future rush orders from the processor. Over the course of one year, the processor has used more than 8 million rectangle patterns for various product seals and has added four more applicators to the operation. The applicators are especially helpful to the processor for expediting production as volume grows. This solution allows the processor to quickly and easily ramp up production to meet the retailer’s needs.

In addition to being faster, cleaner and easier to apply compared to hot melt, the processor cited several other reasons for continuing to use the adhesive patterns —  including flexibility, scalability and the ability to respond rapidly to keep pace with demand. “Unlike hot melt, the adhesive patterns from Glue Dots don’t have set-up or cleanup times, allowing our customer’s carton packing operation to be simpler and quicker,” said Ream.

Most importantly, the solution allows the processor to continue scaling up its frozen foods packaging operation and maintain its obligations to its warehouse club retail customer, where on-time delivery and package integrity are key to not being “frozen” out of future orders.