Church Hill Classics (CHC), a manufacturer of collegiate diploma frames for more than 1,000 U.S. colleges and universities, grew from its launch as a home-based business in 1991 to an occupant of a 47,000-square foot building by 2007. The company's growth produced a need for a non-bulky packaging solution that was, easy to carry, stackable and passed FedEx and UPS carrier testing. CHC also needed to ensure the new packaging method protected the glass frames as well as its previous method. The packaging solution's environmental profile was also a consideration.
CHC began working with Sealed Air, a provider of packaging and performance-based materials and equipment systems, to develop a specialized solution. During the customization process, Sealed Air created different prototypes in order to develop the package that is being used today. The solution, known as Korrvu retention packaging, uses a proprietary corrugated retention frame and elastomeric film to hold the frames securely in place during shipment. When the side flaps of the retention frame are folded up, the resilient film is loosened, creating an insertion pocket. The diploma frame is placed in the pocket between the film and corrugated retention frame. When the flaps are folded down, the film, which is attached to the corrugated frame, stretches over the diploma frame and holds it securely in place. Held safely in the retention packaging, the product is then placed in a corrugated shipping box.
The retention package allows CHC to simplify its assembly and packaging processes. Once the diploma frames are assembled, CHC employees insert them under the film membrane of the retention packaging before placing them on a cart. An inspector reviews the frames for defects and assigns them to a packer who folds down the sides of the packages, and inserts them into the box.
Before adopting retention packaging, CHC had to wrap the assembled frames in protective material before putting them on a cart that was then moved to the packaging area, where the frames were put on a strapping machine. “With our old method of packaging, we were having a lot of bottleneck problems between the assembly area and the packaging area,” says Lucie Voves, CHC's founder.
It was crucial that CHC's new packaging method pass the independent testing done by major parcel carriers, so that its products could be insured during shipping. The retention packaging solution developed for CHC was sent to UPS and FedEx to undergo the testing, which included regulated test procedures with vibration and drop tests.
One of the more notable results from CHC's change to the retention package was that the space savings resulting from more efficient pre-use storing allowed the packaging process to take place in the same area as the framing tables. CHC was unable to do this in the past because it did not have enough space to store all of the old packaging supplies near the framing tables.
CHC also benefited from a 50% reduction in the labor necessary for packaging. “We used to have one packer for every table,” says Voves. “Now, we only need one packer for every two tables.” In addition, the retention package allowed CHC to go from using eight different package sizes to three.
The retention package includes a handle for easy customer carry out and allows for visual inspection while the product is still packed. Its clear sleeve and slide-out design allows the package to be used for both shipping and display.
“The stores used to have to choose between a frame strapped in a display box or paying extra for a ship-ready frame carton,” Voves notes. “Today inventory is completely flexible and can be carried out of the store by the consumer or shipped. In challenging economic times, this has allowed our stores to manage their inventory more effectively and resulted in a competitive advantage.”
This article is based on material developed by Sealed Air Corp.