Leading contract packer, Strategy Group of Nelson, Lancashire, has become the first UK company to install Ishida’s new flexible strip pack applicator (F-SPA), seen as the streamline solution for hanging products in stores. Strategy Group is using the system to expand operations, increase business and pursue opportunities in new market sectors, and says it has made ‘an immediate impact’ on its business. The automatic clip-strip solution provides effective merchandising for retail outlets, while offering significant cost savings compared to hand loaded alternatives.
Ishida’s UK distributor, clip-strip specialist Index, supplied the system to Strategy Group. Index says that Hang-strips™ are a great format for impulse purchases and because they do not take up shelf space, provide an excellent opportunity for a product to gain a first retail listing. They can also be used for special promotions or placed strategically next to complementary items in any part of the store, for example snacks by the beer section. Such benefits, says Index, mean that a correctly merchandised strip can deliver up to 30% increase in sales compared with shelf display.
For Strategy Group the F-SPA provided a cost-effective solution to maximise the benefits of Hang-strips. “In the past, placing packs onto strips was a very labour intensive operation,” explains sales manager Melanie Norcross. “In addition, packs usually had to be adapted with the inclusion of a hole or Euro slot to enable them to be placed on the strips and the strips themselves could be quite heavy and bulky.
“All this generated extra costs for the packing process which could not be reflected in the selling price of the pack, making strip packs something of a loss leader. With the Ishida system, we have a cost-effective operation which enables the strips to take on a far more pro-active marketing role.”
The F-SPA loads 60 bags per minute onto the Ishida Strip-tape, ready to hang at point-of-purchase locations. The patented Ishida Strip-tape design heat seals the bags to the resealable strip-tape. The sealing process can be adjusted according to the requirements of each product to provide a secure attachment and ensure that packs cannot accidentally drop off the strip during packing or handling. Equally, the tape allows bags to be re-attached to the strip-tape using the patented adhesive layer of the tape. Furthermore, as the bags do not require a hole or a Euro-slot to be attached to the Ishida Strip-tape, bag makers with those facilities are not required.
The Strip-tape is supplied on a reel, which is inserted into the F-SPA. The tape can also be printed with individual product branding if required. The reel format provides total flexibility as individual strips can be of different lengths to hold different numbers of packs (typically six, ten or 12). The spacing of the packs on the strip can also be adjusted depending on pack design and bag size, to ensure that they can be presented to their best advantage in-store. In addition, an extended length of tape at the top of each strip can be created to allow for additional product brand promotion to be included in order to maximise in-store impact. Settings for individual product requirements are stored in the Ishida F-SPA memory and called up at the touch of a button.
For the Strategy Group, an important benefit of the Ishida system is that packs can be brought into the factory, applied to the tape and then repacked in the same box, enabling manufacturers to keep the same SKU for simplified distribution. Equally important, because the weight of the Ishida strip is much lighter than traditional plastic strips (3.8g as opposed to 17g), this reduces both transport costs and the amount of waste sent to landfill, thus helping to improve a pack’s overall carbon footprint.
Further advantages of the F-SPA are its flexibility, which means it can be linked to bag makers and flow wrappers as well as manually fed. It can also be easily moved to different production lines or operated off line as required.
The F-SPA is suitable for bags made with heat sealable OPP film. The amount of air fill in the bag and the sealing temperature of the bags to the tape can be adjusted for each product to ensure that the bags are held firmly in place while still being easy for consumers to remove without damaging pack integrity. In addition, the top of the bag is folded over before being affixed to the strip, so aiding the customer to easily remove the bag.
“The Ishida F-SPA has made an immediate impact on our business and we have been delighted with its performance, and the excellent support we have received from both Ishida and Index,” concludes Melanie Norcross.