An internal newsletter from Hormel Foods spells out how two seemingly minor changes will have a big impact on packaging operations. More...
One of the things you learn in packaging is how much little details matter. An internal newsletter from Hormel Foods spells out how two seemingly minor changes will have a big impact on packaging operations.
Hormel Always Tender marinated meats are transitioning from pressure-sensitive to thermal-transfer labels. The biggest operational difference, from Hormel’s view, is that the new labels are print-and-apply, meaning that Hormel no longer has to discard outdated labels. (Interestingly, Hormel identified “nutrition information modifications” as the type of change most likely to make a label obsolete.) The project took two years and will save more than 100,000 pounds of material a year, according to the company.
“Using this technology for marinated meats is just the beginning of possibilities to use the labels for other products,” says Hormel packaging scientist Jenny Reid. “The use of these labels is another example of our teams striving to meet the company’s goal to optimize total value through innovation, technology and continuous process improvement.”
Another change is even less noticeable but is projected to have an even bigger impact. Hormel is lightening its pallets by changing the kind of wood used-a change that is expected to save 3.9 million pounds of wood a year.
A cross-functional team assigned to the problem determined that using pine boards for the decking, instead of oak or other hardwoods, would make the pallet at least eight pounds lighter with no loss of strength. In addition, the pine, being kiln-dried, would retain its size and shape better, which would allow the pallet decks to remain level.
“We established and shared specifications with all of our pallet suppliers, but the end product was not consistently meeting these requirements,” says Daniel Miller, R&D manager of packaging development. “By reviewing every aspect involved in manufacturing a pallet, we were able to develop a new set of qualifications using less materials.”