Winning a Gold Award for excellence in innovation and cost reduction was a new breed of divider from ITB. It’s used primarily in the auto industry to ship car components from the plants where they’re made to the assembly plant where all the car parts are assembled into a finished automobile.
Among the early users of this protective packaging component is the automotive group of Johnson Controls in Holland, MI. Picture, for example, an arm rest made by Johnson Controls and shipped in large reusable bins to Ford or General Motors assembly plant around the country. Placed inside the reusable bin is a divider that protects individual arm rests by keeping them separated and cushioned from one another. Until now, these dividers have usually been made of die-cut corrugated. ITB’s dividers are not. Some are reusable and are made, typically, of polyester. But we’ll focus here on the ones that ITB calls “expendable”—that is, they’re used once and then discarded, just like the die-cut corrugated dividers they’re designed to replace.
ITB’s expendable dividers are made on an auto assembly machine manufactured to ITB’s specifications by Pinnacle Converting. Fed into this machine is a 106-inch-wide roll of 26# kraft paper. Also fed into the Pinnacle machine is an electronic job order produced by ITB through proprietary software. The Pinnacle machine cuts the kraft into pieces as specified in the electronic job order and assembles them with glue into a piece that, when opened up, fits inside a reusable bin (see Photo A). But until the divider is opened up, it’s collapsed and ships perfectly flat (see Photo B). Worth pointing out is that what you see in Photo B are five conventional dividers made of corrugated sitting on top of 90 equivalent dividers made by ITB.
Obviously, compared to dividers made of die-cut corrugated, it costs considerably less to ship a load of collapsed ITB dividers to the Ford suppliers that use them. On top of that, numerous tests have shown that the ITB dividers, which have a lot of give in them, provide better protection than relatively rigid die-cut corrugated because of their inherent flexibility. As if all that were not enough, they cost about 20% less than their conventional die-cut corrugated counterparts.
David Colclough, a buyer at auto parts maker Johnson Controls, confirms the sustainability benefits, cost savings, and protective functionality that the ITB divider affords. He calls the divider “ingenious.” He also notes that the packaging being produced by ITB today was engineered specifically to meet the shipping needs of the automotive industry. He predicts that ITB—just one year old and employing just 15 people—will expand at some point in time with Consumer Packaged Goods companies in mind, where much higher speeds of manufacturing and far greater volumes are involved.