For Johnsonville Sausage, the country’s No. 1 sausage brand, improving overall efficiency was a key priority. When a persistent “flipped zipper” challenge interfered with streamlining production of smoked and cooked sausages, it was time for a change. To expedite production and continuously deliver consumer-dependable, high-quality products, Johnsonville teamed up with Presto Products Company.

The challenge

Johnsonville was experiencing a high percentage of packaging rejects that employed a single-lock-style zippered package for all smoked and cooked sausage products. These packaging rejects posed a significant challenge to the company as it moved to maintain and improve efficiencies while reducing waste.

“We are committed to providing consumers with great-tasting, high-quality sausage and packaging that stands up to the products we serve, so it was clear to us that we needed to partner with a trusted supplier in reclosable zipper technology,” says Steve Laack, director of purchasing at Johnsonville.

The packaging rejects were a result of a phenomenon known as “flipped zipper,” meaning as the zipper closure was applied to the base film and the lid film during the thermoforming process, Johnsonville’s previous package containing a single-lock zipper would curl up, which led to extensive rework and resulted in significant waste.

Recalling the success of its previous work with Presto, Johnsonville sought the thermoform zipper supplier’s help in the hope of finding a long-term solution.

“After having to perform extensive rework of our smoked and cooked sausage packages due to the zipper concern, we turned to Presto, who has spent years making strides forward from being a secondary supplier who performed smaller-scale projects to a leading supplier in the thermoform category who could manage and deliver on a large-scale endeavor,” Laack said.

The technology

Presto’s line of thermoform zippers offered two solutions to Johnsonville’s challenge. The first was a press-to-close (PTC) single-lock zipper Style 330 and the second was a PTC double-lock zipper Style 345, which the brand uses today on its smoked and cooked sausage lines.

Style 330 was Presto’s initial solution that solved Johnsonville’s packaging problem. While this closure improved Johnsonville’s efficiencies, Presto’s technical team felt the double lock would take the brand’s successes to another level by further lessening the problem. The double lock, Presto says, provided an even sturdier closure that eliminated the flipped zipper phenomenon entirely.

Both zipper options were made of a hybrid blend of resins, which solved the issue of the zipper curling during the thermoforming process. The double-zipper alternative offered a stiffer, more rigid closure that was less prone to flipping or curling.

 “Our No. 1 defect coming off of our packaging line within our plant is now a non-issue,” Laack says. “In addition to eliminating our worries and frustration with the old closure, opting for the new double zipper has provided a host of benefits.”

Presto’s closure solved not only the brand’s major line inefficiency, but also helped Johnsonville save on many fronts. “It cut down the amount of rework, time, energy and labor that was previously expended on this packaging product category,” Laack says. “It also reduced the amount of scrap (i.e. lid stock and base film) and lowered the amount of losses we were previously seeing by a significant amount.”

Furthermore, the double-lock zipper improved consumer engagement with the product. It did so by providing a sturdy double zipper, improving consumer confidence in the closure and enhancing preference for the brand.  NP

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