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Rollprint Packaging Products: Focusing on Efficiency

Executive summary

When the CEO of Rollprint Packaging Products wanted to improve energy efficiency at the medical-packaging manufacturer, she tapped into the company’s enterprising spirit. What she found was that by involving every corner of the organization, the company was able to optimize a range of efficiencies for both the short- and long-term —boosting its team building as well as its bottom line.

Dhuanne Dodrill is at her best when she’s fixing a problem. Small wonder, then, that when the president and CEO of Rollprint Packaging Products decided to maximize efficiencies throughout the 80-year-old company, she rolled up her sleeves and got down to business.

A chemical engineer who earned her degree at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Dodrill first started working summers at Rollprint as a college student reporting to her father. It was from him that Dodrill learned the positive impact that improving efficiencies within the workplace has on a company’s bottom line.

“My dad was the perfect American entrepreneur success story. Rising up from the extreme back-roads poverty of his childhood in West Virginia, he eventually took the reins as CEO here at Rollprint,” recalls Dodrill from company headquarters in Addison, Illinois. “And as long as I can remember, he was always looking for ways to do things better.”

At Rollprint, Dodrill’s father realized this vision most notably in a change of company focus that positioned Rollprint as a supplier to the disposable medical equipment industry, an emerging market at the time. Dodrill gives her father credit for reinventing the company and shaping it into the thriving, technology-driven business that it is today. “‘Make sure you use the right tools so you can do a job right the first time’ was something my dad always said to us growing up,” Dodrill says, “and it’s stuck with me ever since.”

Success right out of the gate

The drive for efficiency is a hallmark of the Rollprint brand and is evident in every part of the company—from the manufacturing floor to the customer service department. It has also manifested in a big way in the company’s recent push to reduce waste and improve energy efficiency throughout the organization. “Anything we can do to reduce our waste will not only make us more energy efficient but will provide us with big paybacks as well,” Dodrill says.

Rollprint’s initial foray into reducing energy usage, sparked by rebates from the state of Illinois, was met with success. By converting lighting systems throughout its plant from traditional fluorescent bulbs to a more efficient fluorescent structure, the company improved energy efficiency by 31% in just three months. Even more noteworthy was the resulting 76% reduction in use of fluorescent bulbs, a hazardous waste with high disposal expenses.

A year-round efficiency approach

As impressive as its early success was, Dodrill knew that when it came to achieving energy efficiencies on a broad scale, Rollprint had only just begun to scratch the surface.

That’s one reason why the company decided to organize teams within every area, including nonmanufacturing, and have them solve for one major process initiative a year. Tasked with finding new ways to boost productivity, these team efforts have paid off tremendously—both in efficiencies and overall profitability.

At a glance: Rollprint Packaging Products

Industry: Manufacturing of flexible packaging for the medical, industrial, consumer and food industries Founded: 1933

Led by: Dhuanne Dodrill, president and CEO

Company’s strength: It’s made up of a small but dedicated team that is always looking for ways to increase efficiency and productivity.

To further identify growth areas, streamline processes and implement forward-thinking solutions, Dodrill and her management team also began to undertake four company-wide improvement projects annually —one each quarter—to address the company’s most challenging waste issues.

For the quarterly projects, the company organizes multidisciplinary teams of employees, which include extrusion-and-laminating process leaders, Six Sigma experts and lean-training specialists. The teams then handle projects that Dodrill and Rollprint management have identified as priorities.

Once a team determines efficiency solutions, it’s crucial that every member communicates the process improvements back to their respective groups. The goal is to ensure that all employees understand the results and work together to smoothly implement changes.

The peelable foil laminate challenge

Dodrill has recently witnessed the effectiveness of Rollprint’s multidisciplinary attitude toward problem solving. In early 2012, one team set out to tackle a number of issues related to the production of one of the company’s most popular peelable foil laminates.

Peelable foil laminates are used throughout the medical industry to hold, among other things, surgical cutters and staples, orthopedic implants, and bone and tissue implants. The laminates provide a sturdy, high-performance structure for some of the most demanding and sensitive products in the industry. However, they’re a challenge to manufacture.

Rollprint wanted to improve manufacturing efficiency while also enhancing customer satisfaction—an endeavor that would demand a detailed process examination and an all-hands approach to be successful.

The Rollprint team, led by a Six Sigma master black belt, used a DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control) strategy to guide its activities. “It was exciting to see the involvement from all levels of the organization,” Dodrill says. Improvements ranged from equipment enhancements to procedural changes and focused training.

The results have been impressive. “A year later, we’ve seen a 72% reduction in waste and have essentially eliminated customer complaints,” Dodrill says.

Rollprint products and equipment

FormFoil, Extrusion coater, Pouches, Adhesive laminator

Ensuring every voice is heard

Both traditional and innovative ideas have fueled Rollprint’s drive for efficiency. Understanding that such ideas originate from all corners of the organization, Dodrill created a bonus structure that involves every employee, including hourly workers. “We use metrics to measure the contribution that each employee has on our profitability and then reward those that add value on a quarterly basis,” Dodrill says. “It’s a huge motivator.”

Because communication is central to the company’s success, team leaders regularly share process changes with their direct reports so that everyone understands the results. This active buy-in from employees at all levels, who know that their opinions are valued, creates an environment in which progress is possible.

New goals for sustainability

Before Rollprint began measuring its recycling efforts and actively looking for new ways to handle waste materials, it recycled about 40% of its waste. But when the company put new sustainability goals in place three years ago, it challenged itself to recycle 85% of its waste.

To reach this goal, Rollprint hired an hourly employee to sort waste streams. The company also purchased balers to recycle trim waste that would otherwise be tossed into bins headed for a landfill. What started out as a sustainability project is now an active contributor to Rollprint’s profitability.

Hazardous waste is another area of focus for the company. “Solvent-based adhesives and coatings are applied to films as a part of our everyday manufacturing process since they generally perform better than water-based products,” Dodrill says, “but the hazardous waste they generate is a consideration. We’re working to get that number down.”

Because all processes directly affect the company’s bottom line, at Rollprint even hourly employees have the opportunity to tap into a bonus structure that rewards them for out-of-the-box thinking.

Big investments yield bigger payoffs

At Rollprint, an investment in change often requires a substantial investment of capital, especially when it comes to updating equipment. “We’ve made a major push to upgrade our extruders and laminators,” Dodrill says. (The company has also scheduled an upgrade to its printing presses.)

One of the biggest challenges a manufacturer like Rollprint can face, from both financial and quality-control perspectives, is ensuring equipment alignment during the printing, laminating and slitting processes. “We work with very wide web material that has to pass through a number of rollers and nip points on each piece of equipment,” Dodrill says. “If the equipment isn’t perfectly aligned, the result is wrinkles in the finished product — something no customer wants.”

“We used to align only occasionally,” Dodrill explains, “when a new part was inserted, for example.” Now, alignment is done on a regular, scheduled basis and considered a preventive maintenance activity. It saves the company tens of thousands of dollars annually.

Measuring ROI and payback is often extremely straightforward. “It could be that an equipment upgrade might cost us $430,000,” Dodrill says, “but if it saves us two rolls of one of our expensive materials, that’s a $30,000 savings right off the top.”

ROI is measured in less direct ways as well. “When it comes to capital expenditures that address equipment improvements,” Dodrill says, “what I want to know is, how big is the problem at hand from a financial standpoint, and how likely is this investment to address the problem in a satisfactory way?” The ability to evaluate an opportunity from every angle is one of the company’s strongest assets and has kept Rollprint at the forefront of its industry. “I couldn’t be prouder of where we are right now and where we’re headed,” Dodrill says.

The ability to evaluate an opportunity from every angle is one of the company’s strongest assets and has kept Rollprint at the forefront of its industry.

The Bank of America Merrill Lynch client manager who works with Rollprint has seen how enterprising the company can be. “In order to help Rollprint benchmark their financial results, our client team performed a PeerProfiler™ to analyze how Rollprint was competing against relevant peers of similar size in the industry,” says Greg Miller, senior client manager at Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

The analysis found that by shortening days outstanding, Rollprint could reduce usage under its line of credit, save interest and improve profits, which could then be reinvested into other efficiency measures. Upon receiving these results, Dodrill implemented the necessary internal process improvements, enhancing the company’s already strong cash conversion cycle.

Keeping a tradition of excellence alive

Like Dodrill, many Rollprint employees began their careers at the company as college students. “We all came up together,” Dodrill recalls, “and we’re a very tightly knit group.” In keeping with family tradition, Dodrill’s two college-age sons have also worked at the company, and her high-school-age daughter has helped out in the office.

Another tradition that Dodrill has kept alive is the company’s summer internship program. Seeking to provide interns with a comprehensive understanding of how the business works as well as with a rich technical experience, the program involves students in research projects. Most recently, the focus was on analyzing factors that impact durability, a process through which holes and punctures are avoided during distribution.

The interns are also included in plant meetings. “This company is a strong one because everyone here knows they have value,” Dodrill says. “And it’s that sense of value and community—that we succeed together —that I want to pass on to the next generation of Rollprint employees.”

Rollprint Packaging Products, then and now

  • In 1975, Dodrill’s father was the 28th employee to join the company.
  • Today, there are 160 employees in the United States. A joint venture partner in Singapore employs an additional 60 people.
  • The company’s retained earnings in 1975 were $42,000. Since then, Rollprint has experienced tremendous growth:
    • The company has grown by 85% since Dodrill’s promotion to president and CEO in 2005.
    • Although 2009 sales were flat as measured against 2008 sales, profits were up. The company experienced double-digit growth of 18% in 2010 and again in 2011.
    • The 12-month period from 2011 to 2012 was one of flat sales due to a period of transition for Rollprint. During this time, the company replaced low- or no-profit sales with more value-added work. As a result, profits rose significantly.

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About Rollprint Packaging Products

With manufacturing facilities near Chicago, IL, Rollprint Packaging Products, Inc. is a worldwide supplier of packaging materials for the healthcare and consumer industries. The company offers a complete range of flexible, heat-sealable materials incorporating film, ClearFoil®, foil, Tyvek® and paper. Structures can be designed to accommodate any sterilization method. Available in rollstock, pouches and die-cut lids, Rollprint’s materials can meet the needs of most peelable, chemical resistant and barrier applications.

The company is a founder of Alliantz Flexible Packaging Pte. Ltd., a joint venture with Acme Packaging Co. (Pte) Ltd., Singapore. Headquartered in Singapore, Alliantz serves the flexible packaging supply needs of Southeast Asia and China.

Rollprint is respected throughout the packaging industry for its heat-sealable, peelable rollstock and pouch technology, as well as its ClearFoil® ultra-high barrier transparent laminates, Allegro® peelable sealants and ClearForm® forming webs. Rollprint has supplied flexible packaging materials for healthcare, industrial and food end-use applications for more than 50 years.

Rollprint Media Contact:

Dwane Hahn
Rollprint Packaging Products
(512) 639-9293
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