The Inside Story of Your Grocery Bag

A trip down the aisles at any retailer is a showcase of engineering accomplishments. It takes a dizzying series of processes to manufacture custom product containers, package them and get them within your arm’s reach. For the manufacturer, getting all that right is vital to the success of its brands.

Procter & Gamble leads the high stakes world of billion dollar brands and retailing innovation. So when a major retailer requests a product be offered in a special size, and on the shelves in stores nationwide by a certain date, P&G rallies to make it happen. At one plant, P&G in turn relies on SSOE to retrofit equipment, modify conveyor lines, and determine packaging specifications, shipping flow and dozens of other engineering feats that allow them to meet this retailer’s demands.

A glimpse into how SSOE makes this happen will forever change the way you look at the contents of your grocery bag.

To fulfill the hypothetical retailer requirement for a special size, a new container needs to be produced. SSOE uses SolidWorks 3D modeling to show how this container will fit on each unit of the operation, e.g. filler, capper, case conveyor. This “movie” is viewed by all the entities collaborating on the project – P&G’s people, our core team, and the associated firms involved in making the modifications.

The new container’s specially-sized cap needs to be correctly aligned via a modified equipment part. We can print actual machine parts in plastic using a 3D printer and SolidWorks, and these functioning parts can then be tested in the production line. It’s a fraction of the cost of traditional prototyping and much faster.

Once the finished products are ready for shipping, moving them through the logistical maze of trucking, warehousing and distribution requires the expertise of traffic engineers who provide for the comfortable flow of hundreds of semi trucks each day.

And then – it’s almost time to call in the shelf stockers!