Shipping fillers, a critical element
Next time you receive a highvolume order for a display that requires shipping fillers, consider some of the points below to make your fillers more user-friendly and efficient. It’s no secret that cost reduction and value engineering are key factors in securing orders in the POP marketplace these days. Everything from estimation, manufacturing, design, assembly, shipping etc. have to be carefully scrutinized as make-or-break factors for submitting competitive cost of goods quotations. Surprisingly, an often overlooked component in cost reduction are shipping fillers. Designed to protect product in transit, shipping fillers can be a positive factor in optimizing your line speeds and lowering overall costs. Selecting the proper filler style can be the difference-maker in minimizing line fatigue and repetitive motions which are known to cause decreased output as well as long term injuries to workers, like carpal tunnel. Below you will find several shipping filler options which are listed from top to bottom based on the time it takes to assemble them, slowest being at the top. As you view the illustrations, be sure and read the comments below each filler style which explain some of the pros and cons associated with each. Give them a try and you will be amazed at how those little things can mean a lot.
Stapled Scored Sheet
The stapled scored sheet is a very common method of creating shipping fillers. If the quantities are right, the scored sheets can be produced on a conventional corrugator, eliminating the need for cutting dies. However, this style filler has two disadvantages. First, extra time is required to pick up the stapler and staple the filler in two places. Secondly and probably most important, stapling fillers all day long is brutal on the wrist and a potential catalyst for a repetitive work injury.
Conventional Arrow Tab Closure
Very common and not a bad way to go, arrow tabs are used across all aspects of display construction, including shipping fillers. One suggestion if using this type of closure would be to try a three-sided cut slot rather than a standard four sided cut-out. Reason being is three-fold: First, three-sided slots do not need to be stripped when die cutting whereas the standard slot does. Secondly, threesided slots minimize the need for your assembly line to have to manually clean out unstripped slots (slot debris on the floor can be a slipping hazard). Lastly, the three-sided slot “pops-out” when the filler is folded creating a “natural jig” in which the tab can be easily inserted against. With four sided slots, the tab is prone to jam into the corrugated edge on the fold possibly causing false scores or other damage to the tabs.
The push tab is a great option to safely increase assembly speeds. Consisting of wing-lock style tabs, the push tab is designed to self-align with a companion door cut-out enabling quick assembly of shipping fillers. If you want your assembly line folks to be happy, be sure and add the half-moon finger cutout just above the tabs as depicted in the illustration. What’s the purpose? That little half-moon serves as a space to allow fingers to easily pass through as the push tabs are being engaged. Without them, fingers will be constantly scraping on the corrugate, causing cuts and bad attitudes! Another tip.....if you are going to die cut this type of filler on a flatbed cutter, consider using wave rule for the tab area. The wave rule will soften up the very sharp edges created by standard cut rule.
Glued Tube Style Filler
The quickest of the four, the glued tube requires minimal effort from an assembly perspective. Simply rack the filler square and place into desired location. If it will not impact performance, run the corrugation into the scores to ensure that the filler folds as true as possible. A nice advantage this filler offers is the ability to produce it as a machine run multiple-out. To add clarity, a large blank can be multiscored on a corrugator or slitter-scorer, glued, then cut on a band saw, producing several fillers out of one blank. Beats running them individually!