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"Virtually everything we buy for our business seems to be more expensive these days. What can I do to hold down the cost of my plastic pallet covers and parts bags?"

While we're all suffering pain at the gas pump, the rising cost of petroleum really impacts us in many ways we don't even realize. Virtually everything from food to clothing to industrial equipment and supplies must be transported at greater cost. Airlines are battling fuel costs, thus higher ticket prices and fewer flights. And the cost of anything made from petroleum-based raw materials ‐ like polyethylene film ‐ is going up.

The good news is that there are a few ways you can manage your costs for industrial-grade film products. The first is to order film made from Industrial Packaging Grade (IPG) resins. General Films typically uses prime, certified resins to make our films. It's the best possible quality and is required for food packaging applications. For many industrial applications, however, we can use IPG resin that is often available at spot-market discounts. This material is still fully functional, but has some characteristics that make it unacceptable for food, medical or other critical applications. Using this resin enables us to reduce your costs by around 5%, while maintaining the thickness and strength characteristics you desire. The resulting film is highly suitable for pallet top covers, barrel liners or rolls of parts bags.

Another strategy is to re-examine the requirements of your application. Let's say you've always specified a certain thickness of material for the strength and durability you require. Our technical experts can analyze your needs and, by using a different grade of material, may be able to satisfy your requirements with a thinner product that still gives you all of the performance characteristics you need. This method saves some of our customers about 10% in unit costs.

Finally, you should be aware that some suppliers routinely reduce the thickness of their product by about 10%, which is still within accepted industry standards, and base your cost on the gross shipping weight. This combination of making a lighter product and basing the price on gross shipping weight may reduce your invoice cost by 5% - 10%. Although this is not our usual practice, we're more than happy to accommodate buyers if this method works to their advantage.

"Can I use coextruded films in laminations or to replace laminated film to lower packaging cost?"

The quick answer is YES, and in two significant ways. The first way would be to substitute or replace coextruded barrier film in what was formerly a plain laminated structure without printing. The barrier need should be examined to match up the oxygen barrier requirement and whether the film needs to have nylon on the outside of the web for automatic FFS or in pouch making conversion.

If the OTR (Oxygen Transmission Rate) barrier can be attained and package optics is not a concern, then there can be a significant cost savings by switching to a coextruded film to replace a lamination.

The second way to save money is to use the barrier coextruded film as the sealant layer in a lamination. For instance, NYLON or EVOH & Nylon, or some other possible barrier combinations, such as Nylon and, or HDPE (high density polyethylene) for added moisture barrier; whatever the specific barrier requirement is needed in the finished lamination.

But it is worth examining coextruded flexible films as a cost savings alternative. With the correct use of coex films and careful evaluation with the packaging equipment and barrier testing, these coex films can be a great way to offset the rising cost and uncertainty of material pricing fluctuations in today’s competitive marketplace