Five inches might not sound like a lot of room, but adding an extra five inches to a shipped stack of tissue paper has the potential to transform an entire supply chain. And that's exactly what happened when Georgia‐Pacific employees worked with key customers to reconfigure the way some of its tissue products are delivered. The change impacted numerous aspects of the business, including the way products are packaged and how they're handled at the mills. It even helped reduce our environmental impact.
The reconfiguration centers around one simple change – taking away a single five‐inch pallet from a stack of products. This means that in a stack of Angel Soft tissue paper, for instance, the packages will be stacked 102 inches tall with only one pallet on the bottom of the stack, instead of the previous standard of a second pallet in the middle.
"This was a collaboration with key strategic customers by our customer planning and sales teams in an effort to challenge the way we had always done things," says George Rogers, Angel Soft operations director. "After the opportunity was identified, the question became how can we make it happen?"
Cooperation across different businesses and groups from Georgia‐Pacific was necessary for this change to take place – brand marketing, packaging engineers, manufacturing operations, supply chain and many more teams had to innovate and adjust.
“This had a dramatic effect on multiple established processes,” Rogers says. “For example, the production lines for Angel Soft, Quilted Northern and Sparkle all had to be adjusted, and each one of these systems required their own unique changes.”
One facility had to invest in larger widths of stretch film, the material that helps hold large stacks of products together during shipment (think an industrial version of plastic wrap). In other places, modifications were made to palletizing and material handling processes – all to ensure the new taller pallets could be moved safely and efficiently.
But the results of those all those changes – and that extra five inches – are significant. For the products affected by the new stacking method, GP can fit an average of 20‐30 percent more product into one stack. This means less handling costs for both GP and the customer receiving the shipment. And with every increase in stocking efficiency, there's a correlating decrease in the trucks on the road.
“If you're putting 20 percent more product in the truck, then there's 20 percent fewer trucks on the road,” Rogers says. “This effort shows our key customers that we consider them strategic partners. It also demonstrates our commitment to removing waste so we can continually improve upon the value our products provide in the marketplace.”
Check out this infographic to learn more: