Fruitful Enterprise

September 1, 2008
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There can be little doubt that the US beverage industry is highly competitive. According to the American Beverage Association, carbonated soft drinks account for nearly three quarters of the $93 billion non-alcoholic refreshments market, with fruit drinks accounting for nearly 14% and bottled water taking the remaining share. With three big name fruit drink product lines amongst its product offering, manufacturer Tyler Mountain Beverages has the challenge of maintaining the reputations of some major brands in a very competitive market. Packaging integrity is key to this, and so the company has enlisted National Adhesives to help with these endeavours.

Tyler Mountain products are household names in the US. The company manufactures the Rainbow, Tampico and Hawaiian Punch beverages. Despite stiff competition, Tyler Mountain has experienced significant growth since incorporating in 1985. The company began by producing 85,000 cases of fruit drinks annually. Some 20 years later the company produces seven million cases per year - 320 million bottles on average.

Success is due in large part to the dedicated staff and state-of-the-art production units operating at the company’s 31,030 m2 (334,000 ft2) plant in Paducah, Kentucky, US. “We compete with regional companies, as well as large international bottlers, such as Coke and Pepsi,” says General Manager, Kevin Tappa. “We‘re a low-cost producer of quality beverages, and excel thanks to quality equipment, strong supplier partnerships and an engaged workforce.”

Being a high-volume, low-cost producer requires that staff do as much as possible in-house. This entails blow-moulding bottles, mixing fruit flavour concentrates, filling bottles, packaging and shipping.

“Process consistency is key to our success right across the board, explains Stuart Fotheringham, Maintenance Manager. “Every aspect of the process has to work in tandem to make a good product. A team mentality is essential – even with our outside suppliers.”

Optimising packaging solutions is paramount. The company has filling machines that deliver four flavours at a time, enabling the production of variety packs. Needless to say the chosen adhesive plays a large role in maintaining product viability.

Tyler Mountain began using National Adhesives’ hot melt products on all nine packaging lines in late 2005. Previous adhesive solutions repeatedly charred and clogged dispensing equipment, resulting in about an hour of down time per day.

“We were changing nozzles several times a day. A line would stop because of an adhesive problem at least once per hour on average. It was completely out of control,” says Tappa. “Adhesive performance and pack integrity are very important to our success and efficiency.”

For these reasons, Tyler Mountain replaced its failing technology with National Adhesive’s EASY-PAC system - an all-in-one package sealing solution.

EASY-PAC incorporates both a hot melt dispensing unit with the necessary hot melt adhesive. Features include an integrated auto-fill vacuum feeder, char-free 93°C (200°F) case, and a convenient hot melt storage bin. EASY-PAC is also a clean and safe system. Operating with at maximum temperature of 93°C (200°F), it virtually eliminates char and reduces the chance of injury due to burns. The system comes with a three-year warranty and a replacement parts guarantee.

The switch to the EASY-PAC has reduced downtime at Tyler Mountain by up to 95%, in addition to increasing line efficiency by 10%. Dispensing nozzle expenditure has also been drastically reduced.

“One of the most attractive aspects of the system is the reduction in spare parts costs, and maintenance training,” asserts Tappa. “The system’s performance, in addition to the adhesive quality gives us enormous confidence in National Adhesives. Glue issues have literally gone away.”

Tyler Mountain Beverages views suppliers like National Adhesives as partners in its business, and the formation of partnerships is critical to problem solving and ultimately success. Tyler Mountain works closely with suppliers on a wide range technical issues - including the development of different packaging materials and formats.

“Qualities we look for in a supplier are customer service, on-time deliveries, and product performance,” says Tappa. “Strong partnerships, like the one we have with National Adhesives, provide us with a competitive edge in the marketplace. Our relationship with National Adhesives is a true partnership. The quality of service is exceptional, and National Adhesives is great at offering advice to help us save money and increase efficiency.”

The fact that National Adhesives provides Tyler Mountain with an all-in-one package sealing system and stands behind it 100% enables Tyler Mountain to concentrate on other aspects of the business - streamlining the flow of materials, improving on-time delivery, increasing cash flow and reducing inventory.

“We previously worked with one glue supplier, one equipment supplier, and a spare parts supplier, but now we’ve got one supplier who’s taking control of all our adhesive requirements, and that to me is an enormous asset,” asserts Fotheringham.

Tyler Mountain has been a water bottler for more than 70 years, with additional operations in Poca, West Virginia; Louisville, Kentucky; and Nashville, Tennessee. Today fruit drinks account for about 75% of sales, with bottled water comprising the other 25%. Products are shipped to retailers across the US, with the bulk in the Mid-West. The company employs 140 people and hires additional employees during the high-sales summer months.

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