Packing: a routine job or a job for specialists?

Tomáš Benda, Assembly Manager:
“Customers are amazed at what it entails.”


It is the conclusion of every assignment SixPointTwo carries out: protecting the delivered products with safe, robust packaging before transportation. How does it all work? Assembly Manager Tomas Benda offers an explanation: “Every pallet is a puzzle.”

Loading and packing products on pallets is the responsibility of the Assembly Team. “Our team currently has 24 packaging specialists. The core is formed by 16 employees, and each one has more than 10 years of packaging experience.” The Assembly Team is familiar with all the products. They pack all the unassembled products onto pallets, such as powder coated or galvanised metal sheets and all the assembly products. In the latter case, the employee who assembles the products is also the one who packages them.”

Customer instructions for packaging and transportation
The initial starting point for the packaging work is the customer’s instructions. “The customer gives us some instructions regarding the packaging itself, the maximum weight per pallet, the labelling and the method of transport. The instructions differ per customer. We also take into account that products for Dutch customers travel about 1,000 km or more by road. This is carried out by external transportation partners.”

Custom pallets
Euro pallets (1200 x 800 x 144 mm) are often used for the products to be packed. However, other pallets are also regularly used. “For example, we make panels with a length of 3 metres and frames of 1 x 1.5 metres for one of our customers. Larger pallets with different sizes are required for this. For some other products, much smaller pallets are required. We make these customised pallets ourselves at SixPointTwo. We keep wood in stock for this.” Most of the wood we use is required to meet the IPPC standard. “The IPPC treatment helps prevent impurities and reduce material, energy and technology costs. No chemical products are used during this procedure, only thermodynamics. The IPPC treatment gets rid of pests such as bark beetles.”

The challenge
“Customers have clear requirements that we can easily meet. However, packaging is really difficult,” continues Tomás. What’s it all about then? “We make very different products: mostly single pieces or small series that are bundled into projects. This means the projects we carry out for our customers are often unique. We rarely have two projects in production that are exactly the same. This means we have to solve the packaging puzzle over and over again.” And that’s the task of the employee who loads the pallet. “But the employee can ask for advice from his team leader if necessary.”

Safety regulations
There are no specific safety regulations for loading a pallet. However, we always follow some basic rules. “The first basic rule is that the centre of gravity of the package must be exactly in the middle of the pallet. This is crucial for employee safety because it prevents pallets from falling over and causing accidents. Another basic rule is that the packaging must always be robust in order to prevent the forklift trucks from scratching the products.” SixPointTwo employees follow the general safety training and the specific safety training for forklift drivers every year. “These training courses are a legal obligation in the Czech Republic.” Also important: all the pallets are carefully rechecked at SixPointTwo before leaving Humpolec. “The truck driver then also checks whether the packaging is all right. In addition, the driver must drive safely so the load cannot fall over.”

Sustainability also plays a huge role with the packaging. “The wooden pallets are reused several times. We use straps – bands made of plastic – to securely fasten the packaging. We have tried other fasteners, but these work best. We pack the products in a protective plastic foil on the pallet. And we have considerably limited the amount of foil per palette. Working with our customers, we now use no more foil than is necessary for maximum protection.”

A new challenge every day
Tomáš loves his job. “It is never boring. I never know what’s going to happen when I get to work in the morning. And because SixPointTwo is continuing to grow, we are getting new customers, which brings even more new challenges.” Tomáš is also involved in contacts with future customers. “When they arrive in Humpolec, I show them how we pack small and large products with the different types of pallets. They are really impressed!”

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