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Case Study: Pipeline Packaging Improves Bottle Quality and Limits Headaches for B3C Fuel Solutions

B3C Fuel Solutions LLC manufactures environmentally friendly fuel solutions designed to resolve engine and fuel issues caused by modern gas and diesel fuels. While B3C’s products were a hit among its customers, the company had to deal with quite a few packaging issues stemming from a low-end blow molder.

After years of frustrations, B3C turned to Pipeline Packaging (Pipeline) to not only improve the quality of their plastic bottles and closures, but to also streamline their packaging process and remove the numerous headaches caused by a less than ideal packaging partner.New plastic bottles made for B#C Fuel Solutions

The Challenge

There were several aspects to the issues B3C had with their existing packaging situation. The problems that Pipeline needed to address were twofold:

  • Bottle quality
  • Product availability and shipping

Bottle quality

In terms of bottle quality, many of the issues stemmed from working with a blow molder that was unable to regularly provide containers that worked properly. Poor quality molding led to issues with flashing, which is excess material left on the container. Other bottles were distorted to the point where labels would wrinkle or couldn’t be applied altogether. Other bottles had major issues with neck finishes that resulted in complaints from the field because the bottles would leak.

With all the bottle quality issues, B3C needed a solution where they could invest in reliable products that wouldn’t make the company look bad or fail to run through their own production lines. Unfortunately, their old vendor was unwilling to make any changes to limit wasted product. Whenever B3C would send faulty bottles back, the vendor wouldn’t address why these issues occurred. As a result, there were times when B3C was unable to get product to customers because the vendor was unable – or unwilling – to address the ongoing quality issues.

A big reason why B3C continued to buy bottles from this vendor is because the company had already invested in the molds. Given the financial investment at the time, B3C wasn’t open to moving their packaging business. Eventually, the bottle quality issues were too much to ignore.

Product availability and shipping

In addition to some of the bottles being faulty, B3C also had issues receiving packaging on a timely basis. Not only did B3C require additional shipments to make up for unusable containers, the company also had problems getting closures in time to push their products out to market. The unreliable nature of deliveries made incoming shipments a guessing game that hurt business.

The unavailability of closures and containers was further expounded by the lack of any safety stock. Aside from what B3C had onsite, there were no additional reserves that the company could tap into in the case of a spike in business or unforeseen issues. This created even more issues for when B3C’s previous vendor was unable to provide packaging products in a timely fashion.

Logistical complications added even more issues to the process. At some point, the plant where B3C’s bottles were made was shut down, which led their previous vendor to move production to Tennessee. The problem is that B3C is based in Conway, South Carolina and Tennessee is a lot further away than the previous production facility. As such, the location of the facility made shipping even more expensive than it was before.

The Solution

While Pipeline managed to solve both of B3C’s quality and product availability problems, Pipeline’s involvement started off small at first. Pipeline initially managed to provide B3C with a different closure at the same price as what they previously ordered. Not only do we ship these closures directly to their facility, we also keep a safety stock of 250,000 of closures at our Charlotte warehouse. This stock means B3C doesn’t need to store the closures at their facility, but they still have access to extra parts in case they ever need to pull from the safety stock.

A few years after the success of the new closures, B3C hit a breaking point with the poor quality of their previous bottles and had Pipeline put together a proposal to build replacement molds. We provided brand new molds for multiple containers at our cost in return for a three-year commitment. As a result, B3C had a cost-effective, on-time solution for a quality product and replaced the existing custom molds.

To address the faulty bottles created by the old molds, Pipeline turned to its network of blow molding experts. It turns out the old molds were built entirely out of aluminum. We selected a blow molder located nearby in Charlotte that was able to create molds with aluminum bodies and copper beryllium necks and bases to help improve the bottle’s strength and limit other faults. The improved performance for the necks was especially important as some of the bottles were designed to fit into cap-less gas tanks. With our expertise and technical knowledge, we were able to provide a bottle and neck finish design that would accommodate this capability without compromising the integrity of the packaging.

The blow molder’s Charlotte location also directly addressed concerns about shipping costs. By moving production closer to B3C, the company could save on freight compared to the old Tennessee location. In addition, since Pipeline owned these molds, we can always move them to any other location that’s convenient to his facility. This added flexibility gave B3C some peace of mind knowing that they wouldn’t be stuck dealing with issues at their vendor’s facility.

The Results

With new molds and a packaging partner willing to provide inventory support, B3C was able to improve both product integrity and shipping logistics. This change means fewer wasted containers and complaints from customers out in the field. In addition, the existence of a safety stock program for closures means Pipeline acts as insurance in the case anything goes wrong, all without taking up valuable space at B3C’s facility. There are also potential future opportunities to add certain size bottles to the stock program as well in case B3C ever sees a need for backup containers.

While the improved bottles are a major benefit, what might be the biggest differentiator for B3C is that Pipeline lessened the nuisance factor of dealing with a problematic packaging provider. With Pipeline, B3C no longer needs to deal with a partner that’s unwilling to make changes to make important improvements. If there’s an issue, Pipeline will come back with an engineered solution instead of simply making more bottles. For a company that dealt with poor service and defective goods, a commitment to improvement was a welcome change.

Are you looking for a packaging distributor that can provide better solutions at competitive prices? Check out our available packaging products online or contact us today to talk to one of our experts today.

Good People at the Core.

Brian Graham

Southern Regional Warehouse Manager in Dallas

What is your role at Pipeline? Manage the warehouses in Des Moines, Dallas, Houston and Oyster Creek

Dawn Jezerinac

Accounts Receivable Specialist in Cleveland

What is your role at Pipeline? Accounts Receivable Specialist in Cleveland