Sonoco Protective Solutions Wiper Blade Assembly Case Study – Redesign Saves OEM $300,000 Per Year

New reusable packaging solution offers $1.5 million savings over 5 year project life.

A Tier 1 automotive supplier supplying windshield wiper blade assemblies to a major automotive OEM was struggling with their existing packaging for the latest model of the wiper blade assembly.  The existing packaging held the components in a vertical position, making it difficult for assembly operators to get the units out of the packaging and making it easy for them to confuse between the driver side and passenger side wipers.   The new model is shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1: Major Automotive Manufacturer’s new car model.

Figure 1: Major Automotive Manufacturer’s new car model.

Sonoco Protective Solutions stepped in to help by designing a custom TransGuard Stand Alone Tote that holds the wiper blade assemblies in place horizontally, prevents them from getting tangled together, and makes it impossible for the assembly line operators to confuse the passenger and driver side mechanisms.  Additionally, this TransGuard solution was able to help the OEM save $300,000 per year through the life of this vehicle model.

Background

This Tier 1 supplier also has an automotive lighting division for which Sonoco has done many TransGuard applications in the past.   TransGuard solutions are ideal for light applications because lights tend to have a very sensitive set of electronics inside, have a class A surface finish on the outside, and have a very complex set of features on the back side.  TransGuard Stand Alone Totes are perfect for these part characteristics because the EPP foam can be molded into very complex shapes, hold parts in exactly the right orientation so they won’t be scratched or damaged, and protect sensitive electronics and other components from damage due to shock and vibration during shipment.

Case

In 2012, the Tier 1 Wiper Blade Assembly supplier in Juarez, Mexico approached Sonoco to help with redesigning some of their packaging.  The current packaging was a bulk pack container with plastic corrugated inside.  The wiper blade assemblies were actually being packaged separately – one pack for the arm components, and another for the blade components.  Each component was held in an upright, vertical position, allowing the parts to get easily tangled together.  Additionally, there wasn’t a separation of driver side components and passenger side components, so there was a lot of confusion and mistakes made on the assembly line.  Not to mention that the assembly consisted of first attaching the blade to the arm, then the whole assembly to the vehicle.  It was a cumbersome process, and the OEM was losing valuable time and money and requested the change from their Tier 1.

Since Sonoco had worked with the lighting division of this Tier 1 in the past with great success, the Tier 1 again relied on Sonoco for the solution to the wiper blade packaging problems.  Sonoco’s TransGuard engineering team designed a unique stand alone tote that allowed the complete wiper arm/blade assembly to be packaged together in one tote.  This eliminated part of the assembly labor required on the line.  Secondly, Sonoco engineers designed two separate packs – one for the driver’s side and another for the passenger side – that eliminated the possibility of a mix up on the line.  This also saved time and assembly labor.  The TransGuard Stand Alone Tote solution can be seen in Figure 2.

Figure 2: Sonoco tote design for a Tier 1 Supplier to ship their wiper blade assemblies to a Major US Automotive OEM.

Figure 2: Sonoco tote design for a Tier 1 Supplier to ship their wiper blade assemblies to a Major US Automotive OEM.

Additional savings will come from the fact that the TransGuard Stand Alone Tote is height customizable, so every inch of available space will be used on the truck.  The tote is also very lightweight.  These benefits will lead to increased fuel cost savings, and reduced CO2 emissions.  The parts are also made of up to 20% recycled content and are 100% recyclable at the end of the product life cycle.  The engineering concept drawing is shown in Figure 3.

Figure 3: Sonoco engineering drawing for the Wiper Blade Assembly packaging.

Figure 3: Sonoco engineering drawing for the Wiper Blade Assembly packaging.

Table 1 lists just a few of the benefits of this project.  The Tier 1 and the OEM were very happy with the result of the redesign because they have benefited greatly – both in terms of money as well as the other factors listed in Table 1.Sonoco ROI Benefits table

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