I recently visited an AIS client who utilizes our printed roll film. During the visit I noticed that the customer’s ice bag roll film inventory consisted of product manufactured within the last three months, mixed with product produced about a year ago and even product manufactured in 2005. I asked why they did not use FIFO (first-in-first-out) inventory management. The answer: “We just use the stuff that’s easiest to get at first.” While this is expedient, and may not appear to affect the bottom line, there are consequences to this lack of inventory management.
Polyethylene roll film and bags can block when stored at temperatures over 85º F or when kept for long periods even at cooler temperatures. Blocked film does not open easily and, in some cases, may not open at all. This is not a manufacturing defect; it is a consequence of the inherent characteristics of the film that show up when it is stored too long or at the wrong temperature. In addition to blocking, polyethylene film can also pick up odors when stored for long periods. The odors can then be passed to the ice when the packaging is finally used, and can affect the odor or taste of the ice. This is obviously not desirable.
Besides the obvious problems that effect packaging and quality of the packaged product, storing packaging products for long periods and / or mixing product from different manufacturing runs can result in warranty and replacement issues. Even the best manufacturers make mistakes. Machinery and people are not perfect. Machines malfunction and people make mistakes. The best way to isolate quality problems, if they occur, is to use an entire lot of packaging film or bags before starting on a new lot. It is much easier to diagnose and solve defects when they can be isolated to a single production run. Additionally, if a defect or mistake occurs in a production run, we need to know about it fast so we don’t blindly repeat it on future runs. Finally, because we cannot control how a customer handles or stores film or bags, it is common policy in poly manufacturing not to replace claimed defects on material over one-year-old. This includes claims about blocking, failure on folds, physical damage to rolls or bags, or odors in the film. We date code film and bags we produce for packaged ice manufacturers so we can trace material and determine date of manufacturing for quality control purposes.
Managing your packaging inventory on a FIFO (first-in-first-out basis) is good business. This practice is just as important with your packaging as it is for your packaged ice product. FIFO assures you will get the best results with your film or bags and helps us provide better quality and service.
This article was written by Charles Armistead, President of MPC. MPC is a flexible packaging manufacturer dedicated to providing the highest quality packaging products at the highest level of service. MPC has been the exclusive partner manufacturer for AIS ice bags and roll film since 1985.