Archive for the ‘Plant Management’ Category

Any Suggestions for Removing Starch

May 17, 2022

Carl asks:

As part of my internship, I’ve been tasked with investigating ways to remove starch build-up from our corrugator sections. We tend to get heavy build around the glue machines (of course), but also on many other components of the corrugator. Our crews can spend hours scraping and chiseling to remove build up. We try to stay on top of it, but since we are a high output operation it can quickly get ahead of us. In your experience have you come across any safe alternatives to remove buildup and how fast they may be?

You’re not alone. It seems like no matter how careful a corrugator operation is, it ends up with starch someplace we don’t want it. With the high speeds corrugators are running today, spray, sling and other types of transfer can quickly create unwanted buildup and even stalactites of starch.

There are chemical solutions available that will dissolve starch. Some are based on biodegradable enzymes and claim to be safe to crews and the environment. It’s said that these solutions/systems quickly dissolve dried starch, but how fast to go from buildup to clean machine will, of course, depend on how severe the buildup is. However, I believe it is safe to say that it will be quicker, probably much quicker and safer for the machine and crew than hammer and chisels.

What are other readers doing to keep their corrugators clean? Let us know.

— Ralph

Analyzing the cost of corrugated boxes

September 17, 2019

Amine asks,

I would like to analyze the spend I have to my corrugated box suppliers across more than 1000 type of references.

I got the specifications for the references ( type of box ( Fefco, RSC, etc),fluting, the dimensions, the different liners and their Gsm, MOQ, volumes, etc).

I have calculated the area of each reference and the weight of each box. Then, I have calculated the price per sqm and the price per gram.

From there I would like to understand the cost drivers that influence the prices and identify the references that are priced too high.

How would you proceed?

Ultimately every corrugated shipping container is made to a physical and graphic specification that can endure the distribution environment. Since you are an international company shipping from and through different systems your analysis becomes very difficult to evaluate. Universally we must look to the minimum compression strength necessary to survive transport. This is best determined by ISTA testing protocols.

What you really need is to determine cost to strength ratios. Containerboard is a global commodity and yet strength to gsm ratios vary greatly.

There are differences between virgin and recycled fibre costs. Secondary fibre prices have been falling, but both products are often traded in the same range. You would also have to look to the financial returns of publicly traded companies to ascertain their margins over time. It is considered a very supply and demand driven packaging system.

Of course, order size and frequency of order can play a large part in the final cost of a box as well. The finish of the box is another thing you need to take into consideration. Are they all one-color boxes, or are they two, three, four or more colors.

The manufacturing regions can affect the product price. Material prices and manufacturing costs can vary—sometimes significantly—from one region/market to another.

Here are links to a couple documents that you might also find helpful.

How Does One Relate ECT and Basis Weight2

Selecting Components to Engineer a 44# ECT Corrugated Structure Combining For Strength with the Least Cost Containerboards




Vann comments,

Amine, I recommend that you have some performance testing of your boxes that relates to your various applications.  I think that this could help you rationalize your supply of boxes with the objective of reducing the very large number of different boxes but still cover the critical needs of each of the applications. In other words, find out what current boxes can handle multiple applications in order to reduce the number of different boxes.

Setting Seven Performance Standards with Your Sheet Suppliers

August 4, 2014

For the last several years we have prepared you well with the Key Characteristics of Linerboard and Medium and Their Impact on Combined Corrugated Board-Second Edition, how to Get the Best Box, and Understanding Box Performance-Third Edition.  Make sure you have these brochures in your library. (available at the AICC Store)

Then at the third Science of Paper School we shifted the focus somewhat from what converters need to know about containerboards in general to combined board characteristics specifically.  Recently when compiling a list of sheet feeders for the Associations’ Board of Directors we were reminded to provide members with the key quantitative quality requirements one might want to establish with their internal or external suppliers.  Several years ago we publish a series of spreadsheets for singlewall and doublewall combinations listing a few physical properties categories so a converter could establish incoming sheet specifications with their supplies.

Let’s review those and explore a more comprehensive array of properties.

ECT: Yes, it is well know but not completely understood. While the already known losses of box compression will varying with supply chain elements, deterioration rates vary by actual amounts of board crush or flute degradation and the use of semichemical or recycled mediums.

Caliper: spring back or recovered thickness after crushing.  While fluting is a resilient material and recovers from much of the sever deformation that occurs during combining and/or converting, its inherent strength contribution to the corrugated may be significantly compromised.

Flat Crush: This measure of actual combined board crush verses the potential resistance to crushing as predicted from the Concora strength of the medium. This, however, is not a good predictor of actual board crush.

Pin Adhesion: Determines the strength of the bonds between the liner(s) and the medium(s).

Four Point Bending Stiffness: Measures the rigidity of the combined board and the sidewall wall robustness of the corrugated box.

Torsional Stiffness: Relatively new to the US, but known elsewhere.  This maybe the single best overall determinant of board strength.

Warp: Should have no more than 1/8 deviation from flatness per foot.

Look for more details in an upcoming issue of BoxScore

Educating the Community about Environmentally Friendly Corrugated

May 20, 2014

Joe ask,

We are having some issues with the community surrounding our plant, they seem to feel that we are creating hazardous waste which they say is causing illnesses. We have obtained and maintain all required permits and are always in compliance. My question to you, does AICC have any documentation that would cover how environmentally friendly the corrugated industry is?

Joe it sounds like you’re looking for materials to help educate your community and I think that is a very good first step. Human nature makes us leery of things we don’t understand. Those outside of the industry don’t realize that most of the materials used in corrugated packaging are natural such as paper, starch and soy. Nor do they realize that industries and industrial sites are typically held to a much higher level of compliance. When you add up the communities individual contributions to the environment (cars, barbecues, furnaces that are probably older and very inefficient and the biggest offenders of all gas powered lawn tools) you may find the plant is not the largest threat to the neighborhood.

But we’re not looking to shift blame, just to be good neighbors. I’ll check our resources here and touch base with TAPPI and FBA to see what they may have.

Let’s also open this up for comment from other members and followers who may have or are facing the same issues. Does anyone want to share their experiences on how they have addressed similar issues?

In the mean time, just some ‘good neighbor’ things to consider.

  • How is your boiler fueled and how is the exhaust handled?
  • How long will you allow trucks to idle, are there oil spills under cars and tractors, and what hours do they operate?
  • Are night lights and truck headlights shining into neighbors homes?
  • Where is water discharged and what is known about your roof and hard surface runoff?
    How is your waste water stored or disposed? Drums being hauled away from an industrial site can look much more menacing than they really are.
  • How modern is your dust collection system?
  • What’s the decibel level at the property lines?
  • When are your dumpsters emptied and how is your rodent control?