Originally published in the June 2014 issue of MA Insider, a publication by the Manufacturers Alliance.
It’s unlikely you will find a packaging challenge the people at Packnet Ltd haven’t encountered yet. Twenty-six years ago, the founders saw a need for quick response packaging and Packnet Ltd was born.
Since then the company has provided a wide variety of custom packaging solutions from simple wood boxes and skids to highly customized containers designed for a specific application. The demand for reusable packaging has sparked the company to add this to their repertoire. As the needs have arisen in the marketplace, the company has expanded its capabilities to include CNC routing, die cutting, water jet cutting, and other manufacturing methods.
Packnet’s success is evident in their key principles. Strong design and innovative engineering capabilities are at the forefront of every project. The company understands how experience and long tenure on the design team proves invaluable when faced with difficult packaging challenges. They understand the value of being able to execute on short lead times and reliable delivery is critical in an industry where the product must follow a customer’s timeline; Packnet has been known to respond in less than a day in some cases. Meeting and exceeding cost expectations is another success factor the company values highly. Combined, these attributes have allowed the company to compete effectively in the industry and have resulted in years of systematic growth.
As manufacturing standards go, Packnet’s has some unconventional methodologies. The shop is smaller than you might expect and has much less inventory than expected; their stock of raw material, mostly lumber, sits at one end of the shop. Packnet relies on supplier stock and places orders frequently—usually every two days—to avoid having to keep material on hand. As a result, inventory turns 23 times a year! Work in process moves quickly. A typical order only takes a few hours to complete and the finished product usually moves out as soon as the job is done. Production areas are separated between the nature of the work and the volume of product produced. Scheduling is divided up by cell and each area has its own list of work orders. The systems used to drive the schedule, along with much of the front office work, were developed in house. Scheduling is simple enough that it can be done manually. In short, the company runs very tightly and maintains virtually no excess equipment, space or processes.
A visual representation of the company’s success in light of their organizational efficiencies is displayed along a long wall outside the offices. The VTO (Vision Traction Organizer) display board is one component of EOS methodology the company has adopted and implemented to improve results.
The results are evident in two critical measures: Quality at 98.8%; On-time delivery at >99%. They also boast an excellent safety record.
The work force can be described as very nimble. A cross-training program provides employees the ability to shift between jobs and departments as the need arises. Weekly “scrum” style meetings keep everyone abreast of the workload and priorities of the company. Quarterly recognition for outstanding performance highlights employees and teams for their contribution and features project successes. Whenever possible, the company promotes from within, which creates company loyalty and an increased sense of ownership. The Entrepreneurial Operating System®, or EOS, is attributed with increased accountability, visibility and understanding throughout the firm. The Manufacturers Alliance has played a role in the success of the company as well. Many Packnet employees participate in peer groups and take advantage of Educational Seminars to learn from and network with other companies.
Like many companies, Packnet spends most of its time looking forward and making careful and deliberate plans for the future. While they clearly appreciate the progress they’ve made, they recognize that continuous improvement is a journey and there are always ways to expand and improve.