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News | Aug. 28, 2020

Distribution Red River foam machines save time, more efficient

By Diana Dawa, DLA Distribution Public Affairs

Defense Logistics Agency Distribution Red River,Texas, received foam machines to assist in protective packaging in October, and they’ve proven to be an advantage to the organization’s metrics.

“It’s helped us out tremendously since we’ve started using it,” said DDRT’s Distribution Process Worker Supervisor Annie Fields. “In the past, it would take maybe four or five hours to pack a pallet of 42 fire extinguishers. With two people using the foam machine that time has been reduced to about an hour.”

The machine can be preset for different dimensions. It dispenses a mixture of A/B chemical components into an instapack, filling it with protective foam for packaging items like fire extinguishers. The foam bags can be shaped or molded to be used as cushioning, blocking and bracing. Workers received training to operate the machine and must wear goggles, shields, aprons and gloves when using it.

To package a fire extinguisher, a worker places a foam filled bag in the bottom of a box, puts the fire extinguisher on top of that, then places foam bags on each side to secure the extinguisher, and then a foam-filled bag on top to secure the item. The entire process to fill one box went from about 45 minutes down to about 40 seconds.

In the past, workers had to cut nine-inch foam by hand using a heated knife. They would cut out foam pieces using board templates for packaging – a process that would take up to an hour to prep one box. It’s quicker and safer using the foam machine – no cutting utensils needed.

“We were frustrated with the amount of time it was taking to package one box,” said DDRT’s Chief of Support Operations Division Laura McDaniel-Walker. “We discovered that Distribution Tobyhanna was using foam machines, so we collaborated with them to get the machines to DDRT.”

Within 30 days of speaking with Tobyhanna, DDRT received a demonstration by the manufacturer, and was then able to purchase the machines and supplies within two months. 

“We were rockin’ and rollin’, I couldn’t believe it, it was amazing,” said McDaniel-Walker.