Tolerance for Scrap in Load

Andrew asks,

I had a customer ask me how much scrap they should tolerate in their product (slots/cutouts/etc). We aim for 100% scrap removal, but this is not always possible. So my question to you is if there an industry standard for this?

The answer is it’s what the customer demands or will tolerate. There is really no industry standard that I’m aware of for the amount of scrap allowed in a load. In the past customers were much more tolerant of “some scrap” in the load. However, as packing lines have become highly automated the amount of scrap a customer will tolerate has continued to decrease. Today many customers and brand owners have zero tolerance for stray scrap. Even a single piece of slot or glue tab scrap can result in costly downtime on an automated packing line. The customers don’t want the downtime, nor do they want to pay their employees to remove the scrap. In some cases with “hands-off” lines there may not be anyone to monitor the incoming boxes and remove stray scrap before it stops the line.

So we have to do our best to eliminate the scrap before it gets to the strapper or unitizer. We need to make sure our tooling is properly designed and the equipment is setup to optimize cutting and scrap removal. On the folder-gluer we need to make sure the slot knives and heads are sharp, properly adjusted and not damaged. The same goes for the tab knives and hand-hole devices as well.

On the diecutter we need to make sure the cutting die is designed and rubbered properly to provide a clean cut and proper scrap ejection. Make sure all rubber is in good condition and that the cutting die rule is not broken or damaged. If there is any impacted scrap in the cutting die, remove it and investigate the rubbering in that area. Also make sure the anvil covers are in good condition and even across the cylinder.

There are rotary diecutter stackers on the market that are specifically engineered to provide superior scrap removal even when running behind the industries fastest diecutters. These stackers are designed to remove scrap before it makes it to the stacking hopper and eliminate the labor involved in manual stripping or scrap picking. The saving in labor and returned product can have a very positive impact on your bottom line.

You’re correct, even though our goal is 100% scrap removal it can be difficult to make sure that one tiny piece of slot doesn’t make its way into the finished product. Sometimes it can become a battle between the customer and the boxmaker as to how much is too much.

Let’s toss these two questions out to our readers. We would like to know your thoughts and experience.

  1. If the customer and boxmaker agree on an acceptable amount of scrap when the order or contract is signed, will/does it help elevate issue down the road?
  2. I know there is an ongoing battle to control costs and offer the customer the best possible competitive price, but can a premium be charged to guarantee zero scrap loads?

— Ralph

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