The Zealand, Mich. manufacturer, known for its classic industrial style and ergonomic, earth-friendly products, put together a team in 2012 to develop a new returnable package design for a component of one of their most popular products, the SAYL office chair.
A team of production supervisors, facilitators, conveyance operators, material handlers, the part supplier and the packaging engineer worked together to come up with system that reduces waste and streamlines the production process.
“We have a strong commitment to our environment and are always looking for ways to reduce waste; whether it is packaging material or extra labor needed to repack parts for efficient presentation to our assembly lines,” says Herman Miller packaging engineer Cindy Doman in an interview with Packing World.
Previously, the Y-shaped plastic component, know as a “spine,” had been shipped to Herman Miller in corrugated boxes, often bundled or wrapped with additional film.
The new packaging design uses a galvanized steel rack that holds 180 spines on a returnable filler that uses crosslink polyethylene foam to package each spine. According to the company, the new reusable system allows them to use 4,300 fewer boxes and saves over an hour a day in handling of parts.
As a result, Herman Miller was recently awarded the 2012 Excellence in Reusable Packaging Award by the Reusable Packaging Association.
“This project alone eliminated 24,645 pounds of corrugated per year,” says Doman. “It might not sound like a lot, but this is only one case study of one part. There are hundreds of other case studies like this at Herman Miller that have produced similar results. We will continue to be stewards of the environment for years to come.”