Sarah Carson
Hello, I’m Sarah Carson, I’m Rohrer’s VP of Marketing and today I’m speaking with two of Rohrer’s experts on the topic of ezCombo™ and thermoformed blisters. Patti McElligott is a Senior emerging Business Representative. She works with hundreds of our partners on products in virtually every retail industry. And Mark Tracey is Rohrer’s Design Manager. He and his team designed Thermoform Packaging for our entire ezCombo™ program in Illinois and Tijuana.

So Mark, let’s start with you. Would you please give us an overview of Rohrer’s ezCombo™ program for thermoformed blisters?

Mark Tracey
Basically, we have two plants that primarily run ezCombo™ blisters. One is in Bensenville, Illinois and the other is down in Tijuana. Within the ezCombo™ program, we run primarily PVC and rPet. Within PVC, we run 10, 12, and 15 mil and rPet, we run 12 and 15. Quantities begin as low as 5,000 and from there it goes 5, 10, 20, 25, 50’s and 100’s [thousands].

It’s similar to a gang run in the printing industry where you have all the customers are put together on one run and those customers then share the tooling costs, the sub cost, the dye costs that are associated with it. We’re looking at the ezCombo™ and what kind of fits into this area; primarily they’re male molds, they’re male blister mold. Typically, we’ll have seven-degree draft angles, minimum. And then we typically stay away from undercuts and snap type features within the combo program.

Sarah Carson
So Patti, what kinds of questions are you asking your customers to determine if ezCombo™ is a fit for them?

Patti McElligott
Well, typically I start with asking them about their application, what they’re packaging, what type of regional environment it’s going into. That normally leads to product size, product weight, the different blister styles, the card size, those are all determining factors in how it’s going to fit into our ezCombo™ program.

And then the timeline is also very determining factor for ezCombo™ speed to market is a great feature of our program. And then lastly, we discussed their sealing equipment or the lack thereof of the equipment – whether or not they’ve got their own machines, or if they’re using contract packager. I normally lead a little bit into… we have the ability to do heat seal tooling for any machines that are out there so we can help them out on the new blister design as well as the heat seal tool. And that normally determines for me if it’s a good fit for the ezCombo™ program.

Sarah Carson
Mark, what do you need to get started on a blister design?

Mark Tracey
Well, we typically like to get the physical product. There are some cases where customers want to develop packaging a little further upstream. So, you know, if an electronic file or a solid model is available, we can definitely make a package from that as well.

When we do get the product in, we have two options. We can go directly to samples or we can provide an engineering drawing for customer review. Ideally, we like to send the drawing first for approval. We understand there’s not always time for that. A customer has an important meeting with the large retailer, and they need samples; and three days to turn around samples, we’ll kind of bypass the drawing process. The samples that are sent out are for form, fit, and function.

One thing to keep in mind is when we prototype, we actually prototype from the aluminum production mold, so the quality of the samples are definitely from the aluminum mold. Once the samples are sent out, we do ask that the customers sign an approval letter and get that back to us, and then from there, we can schedule production.

Patti McElligott
What kind of problems are solved with a blister packaging design? How can you help customers solve some of their problems?

Mark Tracey
Let’s say an instance where we’re awarded business from a competitor. In that type of case, we’ll ask the customer to send in 12 blisters, some product as well as some sealed samples. And that will allow us to go through and evaluate the overall package. Oftentimes, the purchasing folks don’t necessarily talk to the production folks and they don’t even realize it’s a problem on the floor. That’s where we come in and we’re able to kind of evaluate the overall package, make improvements and work with them to help improve their throughput efficiency on the line, as well as the overall quality and the appearance of the package.

Sarah Carson
And Mark, when a customer asks about what kind of plastic they should be using, do you get involved with making a recommendation between rPETor PVC and the guage?

Mark Tracey                                               
Sure. So, when it comes to the packaging or the material thickness and type, there are some thermoforming parameters we follow. Like for instance, 10 mil PVC, we can go up to two inches tall on the parts. And then when we get into 12 mil, we can go to about two and a half. And then we max out at three inches for 15 mil material. We consider ourselves pretty much material neutral. So, it’s whatever the customer would like in regard to the material type. But you know, if you have an instance where the product is very heavy, we’ll make recommendations, like possibly an increase in the flange size to make the package more secure. Or even if the product is extremely heavy, we’ll look at possibly go into a trapped blister and even something like an E-flute card, which will add some additional strength to the package as well.

Sarah Carson
Cool. And the last question is about timelines. So the typical timelines are three days and 12 days for turnaround time. Can you talk a little bit more about the timelines and how a client can help make sure we can stick to those?

Mark Tracey
Sure, absolutely. So our standard lead time is three days. It’s very important that we get the physical product, as we mentioned, also any electronic files that might be available as well will help in the process. Let us know if you’re locked into a card size if you already have a planogram design available. So, we know what we’re working with and we’ll help you eliminate the need for revisions down the road, but it’s three working days.

And as I mentioned earlier, prototype from the aluminum mold. So when you approve those samples that aluminum mold can in reality go into production the next day. We don’t have it being delayed going from a prototype to a production tool. So that does take out quite a bit of time in the overall timeline of the development and prototyping and production.

Then, the production leadtime is currently 12 working days, so in reality, you can have parts in hand within the 15 [business] days total.

Sarah Carson
Alright. Well, thank you again for your time today Mark and Patti. Thanks for joining us to talk a bit about the customer’s role in ezCombo™ and how we can get them into the program. I really appreciate speaking with both of you. Thanks.