Customers continue to expect more from packaging companies like Mequon, Wis.-based Kendall Packaging. In business since 1948, the company has taken a Midwestern sensibility to its customer service as it meets these added expectations. With a rapidly growing pouch market, the company took a leap when it added pouch converting to its repertoire.

"Adding pouch converting to our capabilities gives us more options for customers, some of whom have requested that Kendall bring it in-house," says Stewart Landy, director of Sales.

When it was determined that Kendall was ready to explore converting pouches, Russell Schneider, COO, began the process of due diligence. Appleton, Wis.-based CMD was identified as a potential supplier among a field of pouch machinery manufacturers. Once Schneider got in touch with Scott Fuller, CMD Pouch and Intermittent-Motion Equipment Product Line manager, the similarities and alignment of the two companies began to unfold.

“When we first communicated, we found out each of us looked the other up on LinkedIn and discovered we had a very interesting common background, having both worked at the same large pouch converter back in the early 2000s,” says Fuller. “The more we discussed our businesses, the more the alignment and similarities in our culture and companies emerged,” says Fuller.

After the initial exploratory conversations, a trip to CMD was scheduled for the Kendall team. The visit included a tour of CMD’s 145,000-square-foot campus in Appleton — just 60 miles from Kendall’s Jefferson, Wis., facility.

“Seeing the investment CMD makes in technology, and their people, really impressed us — it’s parallel to our business model and culture,” says Eric Erickson, III, Kendall Packaging president and CEO. “We talked to four different pouch suppliers: We chose CMD because we are well-aligned with their philosophy of supporting customers for life. We keep our promises; we stand by our commitments. We expect the same from our OEM partners."

When it was determined CMD was the right partner for those expanding capabilities, Kendall moved quickly. Completing the order, taking delivery, installation and training was done in three months, and a second shift was added as more customers came onboard — all within the first quarter of production.

New Features for Achieving Goals

CMD has developed some unique, patented features with rich benefits in high-quality, high- performance systems. The system that Kendall went with, the 760 SUP Stand Up Pouch Converting System, offers advantages that are laser-pointed at bringing significant value to serious pouch converters. Coined “the Profit Advantage,” the system is designed to optimize existing processes by slashing downtime and scrap, and it offers unique, built-in analytics to ensure consistent product quality.

Quick changeovers are very important for Kendall, so everything done, including the equipment it buys, must align with expectations for quick changeovers/set up.

“We can’t have equipment go down,” says Nate Friedl, Kendall’s Operations/Manufacturing manager. “We stage it so that when we finish one job we roll right to the next job. Machines bring value only when they are up and running.”

The 760-SUP was designed with specific time-saving set-up features, including tool-less die changes; automatic, perfect alignment of zipper seal and guides; precise, reliable web control and non-impact splicing; and a step-in frame for quick and easy adjustments.

Customers have ever-changing needs and requirements with their scheduling, and Kendall needs to flexibly respond quickly to their urgent needs.

“We must have the agility for quick runs for smaller quantities, as well as high speeds for long runs, and the flexibility to break into our own schedule to meet a customer’s sudden need,” says Friedl.

Kendall is hardwired to respond to those needs and support its customers in any way possible. Investing in the 760 SUP system supports that ability to deliver on this promise.

Employee Benefits

While customers are always a focus, Kendall is also committed to supporting its employees and providing its team with the tools and technology that make it easier and faster to meet stringent quality and delivery expectations. Kendall representatives say the CMD pouch system is easy to operate, and they were amazed at the speed with which operators learned the system, dialed it in and began production with the first customers.

“The machine is designed so that operating is very intuitive,” says Kyle Clarke, Pouch Department lead. “Simple and quick adjustments and thread-ups make a huge difference.”

When Kendall visited CMD prior to the machine purchase, the company’s commitment to proving the performance of specific aspects of the machine was impressive.

“They had seal bars in their Advanced Engineering Analytics Lab that have been running consistently for two years,” says Schneider. “There is an incredible amount of science and testing that goes into the development and commercialization of their technology.”

The CMD machine is designed to adapt to future expansions in various areas, “We now have the ability to control everything in the process under our roof — we actually print, laminate, slit and make the pouches in our facilities,” says Dave Weber, Midwest Area Sales manager. "The minute people hear that we can offer this one-stop shop, there is a huge sigh of relief.”

Kendall has ramped up quickly — running two five-day shifts and entertaining keen interest from customers.

“Our team has been incredible,” says Friedl.  “They’ve hit the ground running, have been invested in the success of in-house pouch production for Kendall and have dedicated themselves to learning the machine and operating it efficiently. Their highest priorities are the quality and delivery expectations of our customers.”

Adding the CMD 760-SUP won't completely change the business model for Kendall, which will still consistently use its network of co-converters.

"We've built and secured strong partnerships with our outside pouch converter partners," says Landy, "and we'll continue to do so.  Our partners do things we don't, they fill a vital role in the quality products and services we offer our customers."

CMD and Kendall say they will continue a strong partnership, including collaborating on the conversion of pouches from new and sustainable film blends. 

In October, live demonstrations of the CMD 760-SUP reduced-footprint design will be available by appointment.

CMD will exhibit with live virtual demonstrations at PACK EXPO Connects, November 9-13, 2020. The live and virtual demos will feature two types of film from Kendall Packaging, including a recycle-ready substrate.