July 29, 2011, 11:51 AM

Northern Brewer taps a more fulfilling packaging process

The retailer is improving efficiency by using a Sealed Air system, says an exec.

Zak Stambor

Managing Editor

Lead Photo

For five years multichannel home brewing retailer Northern Brewer posted double-digit growth. As the number of orders grew exponentially, the retailer struggled to keep up, says Jake Keeler, the retailer’s chief operations officer.

With a slew of different brewing kits—including equipment, ingredients and recipes for beer, wine, mead and soda—the retailer used an array of different packing materials to provide cushioning for its products. The variety of different materials took up a significant amount of space in the retailer’s warehouse.

There was little method to what packing materials went with what products, says Keeler. Instead, packers chose the material based on their personal preferences. “We knew we had to make some serious gains in efficiency,” he says.

Enter Sealed Air’s NewAir I.B. Express system, which allows packers to create inflatable cushioning for nearly any sized or shaped package.

To avoid disturbing the retailer’s processes, it tested Sealed Air’s system by removing packing materials from the workstations one at a time and examining how the materials’ absences affected the workflow and quality of the package. Eventually the retailer found that none of its previous materials was necessary.

“The Sealed Air system enabled us to standardize our packing processes,” he says. “It can work in multiple situations; it’s less of a mess to store, and simple to use. It’s also less of a mess for the consumer to dispose of or recycle.”

The system has improved the retailer’s overall efficiency. While the retailer’s orders have grown from an average of 400 per day to about 500, it hasn’t had to add a single new employee. “We’re more efficient,” he says. “It standardizes everything so we don’t have to think about what to use here or there. This eliminates the guesswork.”

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