“Upon delivery, it was immediately apparent this was no ordinary transmitter drop! …I think you could have bounced them out of an airplane and they would have come through without a scratch. IMPRESSIVE!”
-Ken Kuenzie, President of Viper Communications, Inc. talking about the arrival of his Nautel NV10 and NV20 transmitters, August 2010.
Nautel not only recycles in all its facilities but re-uses packaging wherever possible. A few examples include:
Nautel’s Smart Packaging Design
Nautel builds quality in to all of its transmitters using ‘smart design’ (see last issue’s interview with Jim Evans, Head of Operations on Smart Design). We use this same methodology to design smart packaging solutions; optimize the balance between adequately protecting the transmitter during shipment while limiting the amount of packaging required and keeping shipping costs low. Read on to learn how Nautel achieves this balance using both heavy-duty wooden shipping crates as well as newly-designed cardboard shipping boxes for the VS Series transmitters.
First, we talk to Allen Hussey, Team Leader Packaging & Shipping, about Nautel’s heavy-duty wooden shipping crates in use for over 40 years.
Allen Hussey: At Nautel packaging is not simply the final phase of manufacturing but an integral component of a constantly-evolving, highly-efficient production process.
It starts with a BOM (Bill of Material) box which we build for each transmitter (#1 above); a heavy-duty wooden box on wheels which contains the bill of materials to build the transmitter and ultimately becomes its final shipping crate. The BOM box moves through the manufacturing facility with the transmitter while it is being built (#2 above). When the transmitter leaves Final Test it arrives in the packaging area for pre-pack where the transmitter is given one final inspection, cables are neatly tied and secured, and rubber bumpers placed around any metal-on-metal areas.
To avoid moisture reaching the transmitter during shipment, desiccant packs (reusable by the customer) are placed around the transmitter, 6mil plastic wrapped around it and then sealed with 2″ tape. Our own specially-designed true foam corners are placed on all eight corners to act as bumper pads and absorb impact, and the rest of the transmitter covered in 1″ foam before the wooden shipping crate is slid back over it and a front bolted on (#3 above).
Finally, industry-standard Tip & Tell and Drop & Tell meters are fastened to the crate and the pin in the meters are pulled out to activate them prior to shipment.
To illustrate the durability of Nautel’s shipping crates, in November 2010 a transmitter was onboard an 18-wheel transport truck in the U.S. during a snow storm. The truck went off the road, rolled on to its side ripping out the side of the truck. The Nautel crate fell out of the truck landing on a corner and slid along the road, severely grinding the wood on one side of the crate until it came to a complete stop. Fortunately, the transmitter inside was undamaged from the impact, protected by our packaging and heavy-duty wooden crate.
With the introduction of the low cost VS Series, Nautel maximizes transmitter functionality and reliability within a cost effective design for outstanding customer value. Now, we talk to Scott Marchand, the FM Project Leader who was tasked with engineering a ‘smart packaging’ solution for the VS Series.
Scott Marchand: Given the VS Series smaller size and lighter weight, we pursued shipping in cardboard boxes. Quality shipment and safe transmitter arrival was paramount so we started a relationship with AL-PACK Enterprises Ltd. of Moncton, New Brunswick in January 2010 to design cardboard shipping boxes for the VS Series that would follow ISTA guidelines for ‘Just Right Transport Packaging’.
ISTA (International Safe Transit Association) is a global alliance of shippers, carriers, suppliers, etc., whose mission is to prevent product damage and over-packaging during the physical distribution of goods. Their vision of ‘Just Right Transport Packaging’ means packaging not only meets the protective needs of the product, but also the economical and environmental needs of the manufacturer. Nautel uses ISTA’s guidelines and testing procedures to discover possible packaging issues, and to verify and improve the design.
For example, the VS300 shipping box went through two iterations before we were satisfied; this valuable learning was then used to design the VS1 and VS2.5 shipping boxes which required special attention due to their larger dimensions and grilled front bowed panels, and increased weight. The VS2.5 is the largest and heaviest of the three VS transmitters and while the box passed the ISTA tests, when Nautel engineers opened up the test transmitter they discovered internal damage requiring a mechanical design update. Currently, the VS2.5 shipping box is awaiting a second round of ISTA shock and vibration tests and until we’re 110% satisfied that no damage will be incurred during shipping, Nautel is over-packaging the VS2.5 in our proven wood crates.