After more than 100 years of operations, Signode has become one of the largest packaging companies in the world. The company has achieved its status by providing what it refers to as “the Signode System,” a range of rugged and dependable equipment, quality strapping and technical support including an unparalleled service group, application and engineering resources, and safety training.
“One of the ways we have achieved our success is by listening to our customers and providing them with solutions to their needs,” Corrugated Industry New Equipment Manager Jonathan Lust says. “Signode has a long history of innovation. That, along with our systems approach to serving our customers’ needs, has helped to make us a leader within the industries we serve.”
Signode operates in a broad range of industries; corrugated, beverage containers, paper, brick and block, metals, printing, lumber, fibers, transportation and beyond. Along with its product offerings for each industry, Signode provides superior service with 77 direct field service representatives across the United States and worldwide service coverage in other areas.
Its service representatives are strategically located around the United States to provide in-plant service without the delay in flying people around the country. Service agreements are available for Signode equipment and in-house service technicians are available 24/7 to answer technical questions over the phone. The company has more than 16,000 parts in stock and can provide next-day or even same-day delivery if necessary.
In the corrugated Industry, one of the largest that Signode serves, the company has seen great success due to its comprehensive product offering. From the GCU SmartFlex (GCU-SF) corrugated unitizer for packaging both bale and sheet loads of corrugated to the LBX-6520 automatic bundler, Signode has been providing the corrugated Industry with revolutionary products that simplify the unitizing and bundling of corrugated products.
The GCU-SF is an industry standout for a number of reasons. This machine automatically compresses a corrugated load with up to 8,000 pounds and applies up to four straps simultaneously, readying the load for storage and shipment to end-users. Although there are various brands of unitizers available, Signode’s patented quick change, modular strapping head technology sets the GCU-SF apart from its competition.
Signode’s quick change, modular head technology features lightweight modular heads that weigh less than 35 lbs. each. They can be easily swapped out in less than two minutes each and don’t require cranes or forklifts for removal. “From a production standpoint, this is a huge benefit. If maintenance is required, production can be back up and running in a matter of minutes, drastically reducing the downtime that is associated with fixing or maintaining competitive and older style cumbersome strapping heads,” says Lust.
Another modular component to the GCU-SF is its smart dispensers, which house both the strapping coil and its direct mounted feed and take up strapping head. It requires less than two-minutes for simple coil changes and features auto strap loading, strap load on the fly without disrupting production, and the ability to clear and re-feed jams at the dispenser. The smart dispensers are also equipped with “auto refeed” where should a jam occur the GCU-SF will attempt to correct the jam up to three times, resulting in far less operator intervention and line downtime. This is hugely important for systems set up as fully automatic systems without an operator present.
The GCU-SF features multiple strap positions resulting in minimal platen strokes, which ultimately relates to faster throughput speed. Straps can now be spaced 8-, 16-, 24-, 32-, 40- and 48-inches apart, all with a single platen stroke. The GCU-SF is also able to strap as low as a 7-inch-tall load, making end-of-run strapping possible on all types of corrugated loads. “The GCU-SF debuted late in 2011 after we listened to our customers and provided them with the head spacing and controls they wanted,” Lust says. “This is part of what separates Signode’s from the competition and why we are able to maximize throughput for our customers.
Just as important to the corrugated industry is its sustainability features. Unlike its predecessors, the GCU-SF is entirely ‘all electric’ with no costly or messy hydraulics to contend with. It uses one third of the electricity compared to hydraulic presses, saving many users thousands of dollars per year in electrical costs. This really adds up over the life of the machine.
Signode also builds features into their equipment to enhance safety. The GCU-SF has Automatic Platen Latches and Lockout/Tagout capabilities that assist customers with their preventative maintenance and machine safety requirements. In addition, the company provides operator and maintenance training and safety CDs with all installations, and supplies customers with employee safety kits that include videos and written instructions on how to properly operate their new equipment.
On the Horizon
The GCU-SF is an example of Signode’s ability to continuously innovate and improve on what’s available in the marketplace. Together with the company’s CLM8 and GCU-8 unitizers, Signode now has thousands of systems currently in operation in the corrugated marketplace. “I firmly believe that if you listen to your customers and give them exactly what they want and need, success is inevitable,” Lust says.
As business and technology continues to evolve, so do customer needs. “Signode is seen as the leader in the unitizer market because the GCU-SF is the most durable and fastest on the market,” Lust says. “But we are always looking for ways to improve, such as reducing the footprint for added floor space, adding more diagnostics capabilities and increasing overall speed.”
Even with the success Signode has had with the GCU-SF unitizer, the company continues to look for other ways it can further enhance customer satisfaction. Its current focus is on expanding its bundle-strapping and squaring line with a new, completely revolutionary design. The company will introduce more information on those efforts in the months ahead.
“We continually take the pulse of the market by visiting plants and discussing with our customers about what else they want or don’t want,” Lust says. “We are learning that customers would like fully operatorless unitizers, so that will drive the development of various automation systems. Our success depends on understanding what our customers want and providing them with superior products and solutions, along with the service and support to help make their operations successful.”