Case Study: PCD on a Roll

North Branford, CT-based multititle mailer Professional Cutlery Direct (PCD), which mails the cooking supplies catalogs Profes-sional Cutlery Direct and Cooking Enthusiast, and manages operations for gifts title Una Alla Volta, has streamlined its dunnage usage with a system from Morrisville, NC-based Geami.

PCD invested in the Geami dunnage system, which turns kraft paper into honey-comb-textured cushioning, last year. Using the system, rolls of 50-lb. kraft paper, which contains thousands of minuscule slats, are fed through a “tabletop expander” machine the size of a typewriter. The machine opens up the slats, making the paper more cushiony.

The Geami machine, as well as its set-up, is free to customers who use at least a half-roll, or 800 feet, of paper from Geami per machine per day. The rolls of paper are delivered to the company on pallets that yield 31 ft. of packaging material each, says Mike Suthard, vice president of sales and marketing for Geami. An average parcel, says Suthard, will use 5 ft.-20 ft. of paper, resulting in a cost of $0.20-$0.80 per package.

The relatively low cost of the Geami system wasn’t the only reason PCD selected it, says Aaron Deneen, the cataloger’s distribution supervisor. The Geami paper “has a nicer look, and it’s more durable so when customers open it up, they don’t see bubble wrap with peanuts everywhere,” he says. The company also likes the choice of white or brown paper.

That’s not to say PCD has given up on its other types of dunnage. It still uses air pillows to prevent items from rattling about. And because Geami dunnage isn’t suitable for products weighing more than 60 lbs.-70 lbs., PCD uses bubble wrap for heavier products such as pots, pans, and some of its cutting boards. PCD also still has to use bubble-wrap for delicate objects, such as small pieces of Una Alla Volta pottery.

“Geami is a great product,” Deneen says, but you typically have to use other dunnage in conjunction with it. Also, he admits, “it took a little time for our employees to get on board with it.”

Indeed, says Suthard, packers stuck in their peanuts-and-bubble-wrap ways sometimes mistrust new packaging materials and methods “One of the things that routinely happens is that at first packers are very careful [with the Geami], so it appears at first glance that [the packaging process] is too slow,” he says, “but within a day or so speeds are back to where they were.”

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