Paper-padding machine starts new chapter for wholesaler

Workers and equipment are no longer bound to unmeasurable and inconsistent protective packaging.

By ·

Baker & Taylor is an American wholesaler of books, videos and music supplies serving more than 36,000 libraries, organizations and stores in more than 120 countries. For years, the company used single-layer paper as protective packaging. In the fall of 2012, its distribution center in Indianapolis switched to a paper-padding machine. Since then, the company has improved ergonomics, increased productivity and lowered the cost of packaging materials.

Depending on the season, Baker & Taylor sends between 2,000 and 5,000 packages per day. The old single-layer paper machines were located in line directly adjacent to the roller conveyor. An employee activated a foot switch to cut off the padding section and then stuffed the paper into the package using both hands.

During peak periods, the machine, employee and workstation had trouble keeping up, resulting in inconsistency and mistakes. On average, an employee required 11 touches for the protective packaging. In addition, the company did not have a system to calculate the actual per-unit cost of materials and labor for protective packaging.

A new machine (Storopack, now creates paper tubes that occupy more volume with less paper. Without the need for a foot pedal, each pad can be automatically supplied to the worker, who uses fewer touches per package. Because the new machines are smaller, the workstation can also be reconfigured more easily. As a result, employees are 25% faster, the total cost of packaging has decreased by 40% and packages are more than 30% lighter.

“Instead of the 18% the supplier had guaranteed us, the packaging cost has decreased by more than 40%,” says Tyler Baumgardner, operations manager at Baker & Taylor. “Plus it’s easier. Anyone who saw the new workstation wanted to have theirs upgraded as quickly as possible.”

About the Author

Josh Bond, Senior Editor
Josh Bond is Senior Editor for Modern, and was formerly Modern’s lift truck columnist and associate editor. He has a degree in Journalism from Keene State College and has studied business management at Franklin Pierce University.

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