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Trimming lawn trimmer line costs

This past spring, Frigidaire Home Products, formerly Poulan/Weed Eater, began selling its lawn trimmer replacement line in a two-piece clamshell of polyvinyl chloride that provides several advantages to both Frigidaire and consumers.

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Supplied by Plastofilm Industries (Wheaton, IL), each half is thermoformed from 15-mil rollstock that's extruded from 100% post-industrial PVC. Draw depth is 3/4" for each half. Augusta, GA-based Frigidaire uses the same clamshell for three lawn trimmer line varieties, which vary in length and thickness. It replaces a hinged PVC clamshell. Sold nationwide under the Barracuda(TM) and Poulan PRO® Predator(TM) Line brands, the lines retail between $2.99 and $11.99. "We had a couple of problems with our older package," admits Frigidaire's director of marketing Bob Morrison. "Most importantly, it was difficult at times for our customers to get the line out and install it on their trimmers. That was the driving force behind our decision to change the clamshell. "Also, the former square-shaped package required more labor," he explains. "After the product was machine-wound, operators would have to position the line in the hinged clamshell, put in a descriptive card, and then close locking tabs." With the new pack, the line is automatically wound onto a center spool. It's formed when the two halves are ultrasonically sealed on a machine from Branson Ultrasonics (Danbury, CT). A small molded channel holds the start of the line. The clamshell is mounted onto a machine that automatically winds the line around the sealed spool. The outer circumference of the back is open; it allows the line to be wound through the opening. The end of the line is threaded through two small holes cut into a hang tab on the back side of the clamshell, allowing consumers to pull out the line. To finish the package, a Label-Aire (Fullerton, CA) machine automatically applies a colorful pressure-sensitive label to the front. Advantages aplenty Despite the investment, the economics are clearly in Frigidaire's favor, says Morrison. "We've taken at least four people off manual line loading and clamshell closing tasks. Automated labeling eliminates the need for manual card insertion. And we've probably reduced the amount of time it takes to pack the trimming line by 50 or 60 percent. That's important because of the considerable volumes we need to produce. "We also have material savings in that the new clamshell is 15 mils, while the older one was anywhere from 17 to 20 mils thick." He adds, "The label replaces an expensive insert card, providing additional material savings." The new clamshell's shelf appeal helps Frigidaire at retail. "The label better merchandises the trimmer line. And having the line where consumers can see and feel it is another advantage." Looking at the bottom line, Frigidaire has capitalized on the cost reductions. The product is more aggressively priced, and sales are up 20% to 25% compared to last year, he adds.

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