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5 Minutes With… Hazel 4D’s LEE ARMSTRONG

In the latest instalment of our supply chain industry executive interview series, we spoke to Hazel 4D Marketing Director Lee Armstrong about the company, it’s products & services, the ongoing challenges of COVID-19 and Brexit, and upcoming opportunities…

Tell us about your company, products and services.

At Hazel 4D, we provide a wide range of innovative products that help you save time, money and the planet, but know from experience that the packaging process isn’t simply about the supply of materials. It also relies on having the right equipment, and on carefully training staff and monitoring performance, to ensure that packaging is always applied as efficiently as possible.

That’s why we offer our unique service, where we partner with you to improve your business performance and profitability – typically you will end up spending significantly less on packaging. 

What have been the biggest challenges the Supply Chain industry has faced over the past 12 months?

Partly due to the time of the year, and partly due to the situation that Covid and Brexit have brought upon us, lead times of packaging products are extending every day at the moment. Here at Hazel 4D we are working hard to ensure that we continue to meet your needs. We have increased stocks substantially to ensure that we can support you with covering your Christmas/seasonal trade, as well as the additional pressures of panic buying and the huge increase in E-commerce.

And what have been the biggest opportunities?

There’s been exponential increase of end users buying online has created huge demand for effective packaging.

Investing in PPE products at the request of customers. The company has helped multiple businesses by supplying these products and has even taken on new customers as a result of this. Successfully pulling through a difficult time.

We took the opportunity to help out the community as much as possible. We donated cardboard boxes and E-tape free of charge to our local Burberry site that was producing PPE for the NHS – Read article here: https://www.hazel4d.com/en/page/550/hazel-4d-news-ppe-for-the-nhs

Hazel 4D donated a number of poly bags to a local seamstress hoping to put a smile on the faces of frontline workers. Read article here: https://www.hazel4d.com/en/page/551/hazel-4d-news-polythene-bag-donation

What is the biggest priority for the Supply Chain industry in 2021?

Ensuring that business can continue without interruption whatever the outcome of Brexit.

What are the main trends you are expecting to see in the market in 2021?

An increase in online shopping and e-commerce – We’re expecting the economy will improve and consumer confidence will rise making B2C suppliers even busier.

What technology is going to have the biggest impact on the market this year?

We expect to see a huge focus around recycled products into plastic products such as stretch film, driven by the Plastic Packaging tax coming in 2022.

In 2022 we’ll all be talking about…?

Looking back on 2020 and how the pandemic has changed the world for forever, with more of a focus on e-commerce and sustainable packaging alternatives.

What’s the most surprising thing you’ve learnt about the Supply Chain sector?

Just how resilient, adaptable and flexible it’s proved itself to be during the turmoil of 2020.

What’s the most exciting thing about your job?

The people that I interact with on a daily basis and the work that we do together to solve challenging packaging requirements. We’ve worked with a multisite printing company this year to significantly improve their pallet wrapping process whilst saving them around 70% on the cost of every pallet they wrap. One happy customer!

And what’s the most challenging?

Taking on a new role of Marketing Director for the company and writing a marketing plan for 2021.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

You progress faster when you’re working outside your comfort zone.

Hazel 4D are stretching to meet the plastic waste challenge

By Hazel 4D

Pallet-wrapping in the UK uses over 140,000 tonnes of plastic each year and a huge percentage of that is waste. The cost is massive, in money and environmental impact.

So, what can we do to minimise plastic usage and waste without compromising stability? Our retail and logistic customers look to us to blend materials, machines and monitoring into a perfect solution. Hazel 4D’s commitment to cutting waste and enhancing stability at the same time is already reaping results for many of them, like Micronized Food Products Ltd.

“With our old machine, tests showed we were using 810g of stretch film per pallet. The Hazel 4D team were able to get this down to 167g per pallet by optimising the new machine’s settings. That’s a plastic reduction of 79%, a major environmental win as well as a substantial annual cost saving” says general manager Andrew Shentall.

Consultations always comes first, carrying out extensive testing using our FEF200 mobile testing unit, to really understand a customer’s current set-up and make recommendations that we know will make a difference.

“Typically, our consultants see customers wrap pallets using 17-23 micron cast stretch film, stretching between 0-200% depending on the quality of the film”, explains Kevin Oliver, H4D technical sales manager.

“So when we can go in, optimise or replace machines, introduce a great nano-film like Extremus which can achieve over 300% stretch that means we’re taking 1m of film and stretching it to 4m. We train everyone to make the best of it, we’re making immediate impact on waste and cost.”

Savings are not just on direct materials costs, either, but Packaging Recovery Notes which really add to the bill for many of the customers who we see for a consultation. This table shows how we made a difference to a pet food manufacturer, reducing their PRN costs by 81%.

*Per pallet wrapped, ** these numbers are based on a company wrapping 250,000 pallets annually, with 62,500 pallets per each example in the table

In spite of significant opportunities to save, many businesses continue to miss out. The weakness could come at any point of the chain, explains Kevin. “They might be using a great film with a machine not configured to make the best of it. Or they might be using a great machine with poor film, or their staff aren’t trained to optimise the set-up and to maintain it. Or they’re working with very heavy, or awkwardly shaped items and think extra wrap is the only way to achieve stability. So our consultation finds those weaknesses and we respond with a complete Intelligent Load Stability system designed to lower cost, lower waste and optimise stability, no matter what you’re packaging.”

Our waste saving solutions consistently deliver a more stable pallet, too. Our recent Intelligent Load Stability review for a bathroom manufacturer reduced their plastic usage by around 80% and their costs by £60,000. Our consultation found that they spent significant time and money applying heavy shrink hoods to bulky pallets for stability, using costly propane shrink guns.

Installing energy efficient pallet-wrappers, switching to Extremus film and removing the need for shrink hoods and guns streamlines the whole operation, takes a fraction of time per pallet and makes a huge cut to their plastic wastage – our customer saved 16.64 tonnes of plastic per year!

“Hazel 4D have proven to be a partner we can rely on and we have now placed an order for a permanent custom pallet wrapping machine. It’s nice knowing that we have a responsive partner that we won’t have to chase should we need maintenance in the future.

I would not hesitate in recommending Hazel 4D, their pallet wrapping machinery or Extremus Nano film technology to any potential client wishing to upgrade their pallet wrapping systems and make improvements to their operation.”

Micronized Food Products Ltd.

COULD WE HELP YOU CUT COSTS AND PLASTIC WASTE, TOO?
When we work with you to understand your needs, recommend a tailored solution and optimise machines and material, you get total load stability and a real weight off your mind. Plus, we’ll make sure it stays that way with regular visits to ensure your system is always on top form.

Click here to book a free consultation and find out more.

Call a packaging expert on 0113 242 6999 or email us at wecar@hazel4d.com

How Hazel 4D’s Intelligent Load Stability system is the risk-free choice in pallet-wrapping

By HAZEL 4D

In buying and procurement, you’re under constant pressure to make the right choices – the most efficient, effective, robust or low-risk… so what if we were to say that when it comes to pallet-wrapping we could answer all of those needs? We challenged ourselves, with some help from our customers, to see if we could offer a truly ‘risk-free’ Hazel 4D solution.

And we think we’ve got an offer that means Hazel 4D customers are making the right choice for their spend, efficiency, safety and reputation. That’s great news for their employers, their colleagues, customers and their own peace of mind.

We’ve built our business on trust, reliability and smart, efficient, safe solutions. We really care about minimising risk to ourselves and our customers – that’s why we’re the only supplier in the UK to deliver machinery, consumables, technical support and optimisation expertise in one easy-to-access load stability solution.

So we asked some of our procurement customers about the risk factors they’d consider in choosing their wrap solution and suppliers, and we challenged ourselves to answer each of those risks. Here’s how we did:

“Buyers really want to know that the supply is stable – it’s all very well having a great set-up but if pallet wrap is shipping from abroad, or anything gets in the way, it throws everything.”

  • We keep a huge supply of our film in-house because continuity matters to us too. So if there was any interruption to supply we have plenty in stock and wouldn’t feel an impact for several weeks.
  • Like most of our customers, we’ve been tested by the lockdown. Not only have we sustained our supply, but we’ve kept up our service too, conducting virtual machine installations by delivering the machines ready to ‘plug and play’, and even installing machines in under 24 hours. Nothing has stopped us!

“For me pallet stability is top priority – if I can go home at night knowing that’s as good as it can be, I’m happy. I don’t want to come in to be told someone’s been hurt, or to damaged returns.”

  • We offer a detailed consultation with experienced technical experts who are familiar with all aspects of load stability. They use state-of-the-art FEF200 mobile testing equipment to ensure your processes and materials are optimised for stability.
  • The machines and wrap we recommend and install are optimised to work together for a stable pallet. Extremus Nano film, which stretches up to 300%, produces a wrap so stable that our customers enjoy safer pallet transit, little or no damage to products, quicker unloading, easier handling and safer storage.
  • For many, we’ve eliminated their returns altogether.
  • By continuing to partner, and training your staff on-site, we can ensure machines remain optimised so that stability is never at-risk.

“The price has got to be right, and not just an introductory offer, or a low starting price – I need to forecast, so I need certainty.”

  • We keep our supply chains simple and work in partnership with people we trust and with whom we have developed valuable negotiating power.
  • We’re confident enough that our prices will remain consistent that we negotiate fixed prices for contracts with our customers, so they know exactly what the cost will be for that period.
  • Once we’re up and running, we can keep your costs consistent by keeping machines optimised – minimising film use, maximising stretch and stability and reducing or even eliminating costs in machine downtime, damages and returns.
  • Customisable, lockable programmes help ensure consistent running and predictable costs.
  • Our online tools ensure smooth management of orders and easy tracking of your pallet wrapping costs and associated carbon savings, so our customers can really keep an eye on spend.

“Our biggest problems often trace back to poor machines – they waste time, waste product and give us poor wraps. That’s been the biggest risk.”

  • Our consultations always start with machines. Often, ‘bad’ machines are fixable – they’ve just not been optimised, or they are not compatible with the film being used. Our experienced consultants use our state-of-the-art testing tech to analyse the current wrapping arrangements and costs, and provide detailed reports showing potential savings and improvements.
  • We often see customers who have given up on improving load stability after several disappointing tries with Nano film, but we’ve been able to turn things around and deliver spectacular results, because we know pallet wrapping machines inside out.
  • We can improve existing machines where there are fixable problems or provide Atlanta machines where customers need new installations. At Hazel 4D we work exclusively with Atlanta in the UK and both know and trust their machines.

“Switching has to be easy… it might feel risky making a big change, so it should be as simple as possible and earn its keep quickly.”

  • We supply both consumables and machines and all service work is delivered by us – no other supplier in the UK can make that claim. It means that machinery, film, technical support and optimisation expertise are all straight from Hazel 4D, and we take responsibility for ensuring everything works together. This drastically reduces the risk of any one element causing your whole process to stall.
  • Our consultation ensures you get exactly the solution you need, bespoke to your priorities, along with tailor-made ongoing support.
  • We can get you up and running quickly, with machines installed in as little as 24 hours, and staff trained and ready to go shortly afterwards.
  • Our online portal makes ordering easy and quick, with next day delivery available.
  • All the analysis and reporting provided makes it easy for buyers to report the savings achieved.
  • And we stick with you, so our single point of help continues – we’ll maintain, supply consumables, review and help you keep things running smoothly – all with contact to one person.

A quick word from our experts on risk…

Bryan Stutterheim is one of our leading technical consultants and Kevin Oliver is our technical sales manager. Both have been with us for over 20 years and we asked them for their thoughts on the big risks customers face and how we can help overcome them.

Bryan says – “The so-called Plastic Tax is due to come into force in April 2022 but we’re speaking to lots of people wanting to get ready now, not just so they meet obligations but because they want to actively reduce their waste. We can help with that, delivering consultancy to tell them how to minimise waste, switch to a more efficient film and use our online tools to help track carbon savings. It’s a good idea to start thinking and planning now to avoid missing the chance to make a real change for the better.”

Kevin says – “My best tip is inspired by the number of customers who say ‘I don’t know why we didn’t do this years ago!’. We can make such a difference when we get the chance to test, improve and optimise the wrapping process, on cost, stability, performance, waste… everything. So my tip would be to just get in touch – we’ll tell you how you can not only improve cost per pallet wrapped, but reduce risks and enhance performance across your pallet-wrapping operations. It’s just a risk-free call to Hazel 4D!”

What could a switch mean in real terms?

One of our clients was shocked to discover the difference in the current cost of wrapping pallets, and the weight of film used, across their four production lines – but was delighted by the savings we could deliver for them.

Click here to book a free consultation

Or if you’re ready to start a conversation you can get in touch with us on 0113 242 6999 or email wecare@hazel4d.com

Never mind the kilos… what’s your film costing per pallet?

By Hazel 4D

Usually when we talk to clients about how much they spend on stretch film, we’ll hear an answer about cost per kilo. What we hear less often is how far that weight goes – how many pallets can a kilo wrap? Yet that is the only way we’ll know the value that our plastic wrap is delivering, so it’s time to change – no more price per kilo!

Let’s talk about price per pallet wrapped. We promise, make that change and you’ll think differently about your plastic wrap and what it’s really costing you.

Here’s an example: Extremus – our best-selling stretch wrap – costs more per kilo than the average. But it delivers around 300% stretch, so it goes much further, and creates a more stable and secure pallet (and lots of other value that can’t be easily quantified, like cost savings, reduced plastic waste, easier handling – all leading to fewer returns and damages).

Think of what you’re spending per pallet wrapped and Extremus is clearly the intelligent choice. On optimised machines where Extremus can be applied at can be less than 4 microns, 1 metre of film becomes 4 metres.

Plus, price per kilo really also needs to take into account the weight of the core which for some brands can be up to 2.2kg. Extremus’ core weighs just 1.1kg, so the price you’re paying is for film, not for the core. And when the plastic tax begins in April 2022, inefficient wrapping will cost companies even more. All of this means that using Extremus significantly reduces your price per pallet wrapped.

What could a switch to Extremus mean in real terms? Based on research with our customers, we’ve found that switching to an ‘expensive’ film like Extremus can actually deliver cost savings of up to 78% per pallet wrapped. We’ve seen it reduce film costs for one of our customers, a snack food manufacturer, from 97p per pallet wrapped down to just 24p.

“Thinking of the cost per kilo of our film is meaningless – it doesn’t tell us anything about your real costs or opportunities to save. When we think in terms of cost per pallet, then we get an idea of how much our true costs are, and potentially, how much we’re losing to inefficient wrapping. Often when we work with customers to explore this, their cost per pallet is a revelation to them. They might be shocked to start with, but one of our consultations is the beginning of making it better too.”

Garth Christie, Chairman of Hazel 4D

PET FOOD CLIENT SAVINGS

A pet food client was shocked to discover the difference in the current cost of wrapping pallets, and the weight of film used, across their four production lines – but was delighted by the savings we could deliver for them.

Another customer said: 

“I had no idea we were applying over 1.1kg of film per pallet. Hazel 4D have successfully achieved a much safer pallet with less than a quarter of the weight of film.” 
Distribution Centre Manager, Nursery Brand and Manufacturer.

The team at Hazel 4D will work with you to understand your needs, recommend a tailored solution and optimise either your own or new machines and materials. This means that you’ll get total load stability and a real weight off your mind. Plus, we’ll make sure it stays that way with regular visits to ensure your system is always on top form.

Click here to book a free consultation

Or if you’re ready to start a conversation you can get in touch with us on 0113 242 6999 or email wecare@hazel4d.com.