New Chapter, founded in 1982 by Paul and Barbi Schulick, is the country’s first certified organic manufacturer of whole food vitamins, minerals and supplements. The company’s core operations are in Brattleboro, VT and and it also operates a biodynamic farm near the Children’s Rain Forest in Costa Rica. New Chapter’s mission is to “deliver the wisdom of nature” through the finest herbal supplements in the world. New Chapter, whose products did not have any secondary packaging prior to employing cartons, chose to use cartons for their products to strengthen the company’s presence on the store shelf. Since converting to cartons, the company has seen noticeable improvements in shelf presence and, in accounts where New Chapter products are shelved together; there is a strong brand block that communicates the breadth of New Chapter’s product line to consumers.
“The company chose to automate its packaging line in an effort to increase productivity and gain efficiency, says Meg Kilroy, Assistant Director of New Chapter of Operations. Prior to installing the Spartan, all cartons were erected by hand. New Chapter has experienced dramatic growth in recent years. The production team attempted to respond to this growth with increases in manual labor at the cartoning station, but the team was unable to keep up with product demand consistently despite the increase in resources. Kilroy states, “Automation not only allows us to keep up with the increasing business demand, but it also allows us to gain further efficiencies. For example we can now perform the same packaging function (and more) in half the time with 2 fewer full-time employees.”
The return on investment for implementing automated cartoning equipment was very convincing. New Chapter estimated that the company would have paid for the equipment through labor reduction and increased efficiency within six months of purchase.
The New Chapter team learned of ECONOCORP while researching cartoning equipment on the Internet. While the team knew ECONOCORP to be a leader in the industry, it was pleasantly surprised to discover that the firm was a local New England business.
Upon initial contact and project discussion, New Chapter decided that ECONOCORP was the best vendor and selected the company for their automation effort. Meg adds, “ECONOCORP offered equipment that was basic, affordable and durable. New Chapter was also attracted to the company because of its geographical location which provided an easily accessible support system for our first automated equipment implementation.”
The New Chapter team has found the ECONOCORP Spartan machine to be very user friendly. In the company’s operation, it is not out of the ordinary to do three or four different box sizes in a given shift at a typical production rate of approximately 2,000 cartons per hour.
Changeovers are fast and easy and the production team has incurred minimal down time due to repairs or maintenance. “Econocorp has been very quick to respond to any questions or concerns, and it has been a pleasure working with their people. New Chapter has received a lot of personal attention,” declares Kilroy.
The company has since purchased an additional Spartan cartoner, two Econopacker case packers, and a semiautomatic Twinseal carton sealer. The Spartans are arranged to accept an incoming flow of bottles and knock each one down as it is loaded horizontally into an automatically erected and positioned carton at the load station. With some products an informational leaflet is also automatically “bullnosed” around the cap of the bottle during the loading sequence. The loaded cartons are then date/lot coded on one end flap and securely sealed on both ends using hot melt adhesive. The inner retail cartons are then automatically collated into the proper pack pattern matrix and automatically loaded into a positioned corrugated master shipping case on the Econopacker.
Kilroy concludes, “New Chapter has chosen to stay with ECONOCORP through the process of continued automation because of the quality of the equipment as well as the continuous support that we receive from their team. The New Chapter team is still fairly new to equipment automation, and ECONOCORP’s expertise and support have helped us to bring our operation from level to level.”