Exploring TriEnda’s Plastic Regrind Process

As one of North America’s largest plastic thermoformers, we’ve refined and perfected our plastic regrind processes to ensure optimal material quality.

Here at TriEnda, we specialize in developing customizable, durable, and reusable material handling solutions using the plastic manufacturing process known as thermoforming. In thermoforming, manufacturers have a choice of what blend of material they use to form their plastic parts.

Within our facilities, we create our own material blend for the heavy gauge forming process we use to create our products. Over the years, we’ve perfected this process in an effort to ensure the consistency and quality of the materials that go into our material handling products.

Extruding Plastic Sheet

There are nine total extrusion lines that produce the plastic sheeting we use at Kruger Family Industries. Four of them are located here at TriEnda, and the other five are at our Penda plant just down the road. These lines pull material from four sources to extrude the plastic sheet. These sources are:

  1. Black color concentrate
  2. Virgin resin from silos
  3. Pelletized material
  4. Controlled in-house regrind

Most of the sheeting we produce here is a black colored sheet. Therefore, our specification and industry standard is 1%  carbon black in our final product. A lot of the materials that go into our blend are black already, so it doesn’t take much colored concentrate to create a uniform look. Silos outside of our facilities feed virgin resin into the extruders as part of the material blend as well, which we source externally. Material from the pelletizer also goes into the extruded sheet, and this material consists of carefully controlled virgin resin and regrind plastic that is blended and compounded in-house.

Next is our in-house regrind which also comes from controlled scrap material. It is extremely important that these bins are free of contaminants, like wood, metal, or any other foreign material. The associates on our production floor are trained to ensure that the regrind is clean. Our management team is also focused on controlling the quality of this regrind material as well. On a normal day, the extrusion lines will run about 50% regrind material and we keep anywhere from 150,000 – 200,000 pounds of it on-hand.

The plastic sheet that comes out of our extrusion lines is typically about 2-3 inches larger than the production tooling they’re used for. Once a product, part, or other component is thermoformed, the excess material is trimmed as part of the finishing process. This trimmed excess is sent back into the regrind loop so it can once again be used for the manufacturing of our thermoformed products. Think of it as a small-scale plastic lifecycle that starts and ends at our facilities. The entire process serves to keep our products and materials consistent in their quality and performance and helps us achieve our goals of being environmentally responsible by reusing and recycling our materials.

If you have any questions about our regrind process or the materials we use, please reach out to us and we’ll happily answer any questions you have. If you’re interested in working with us to develop a custom material handling solution that fits the needs of your product or business, go ahead and ask about that too! We love new challenges and coming up with innovative solutions to fit specific product needs, and after 40 years of experience in material handling, we’d say we’re one of the best options out there.

Small Spaces, Big Innovation

Why TriEnda’s Small Format suite is a must have material handling solution for tight spaces.

TriEnda specializes in all kinds of material handling solutions, making everything from cargo protection systems to battery packs, and now small format delivery materials. When our salespeople noticed a need for a small format pallet and delivery transportation device, we began working with our design engineers to create the Delivery Cart and Small Format Pallet.

TriEnda’s Delivery Cart is thermoformed with twin sheet construction to stand up to heavy delivery while maintaining a low profile and lightweight design. This makes it ideal for small areas and difficult deliveries like tight doorways, coolers, freezers, hallways, and aisles. “We are really trying to improve on existing products. Smaller stores are becoming a trend and we needed platforms to help our customers perform these types of deliveries.” TriEnda food & beverage industry sales rep, Brian Estes said.

Additional design features like the perimeter lip and Tru-Grip™ anti-skid surface keeps products stable and prevents slippage. Along with these product protection features; the Delivery Cart includes a uniquely designed, self-storing handle that conveniently folds into the deck when not in use. This means that the small spaces where these would be used were kept in mind for storage purposes as well.

The Delivery Cart is accompanied by a Small Format Pallet which has also been specifically designed for tight spaces. This pallet is made with TriEnda’s single sheet thermoforming process and provides the strength of a TriEnda pallet while still incorporating light weight design. With a narrow deck, perimeter lip, and our Tru-Grip™ anti-skid surface, the Small Format Pallet is perfect for reducing product damage and allowing quick transportation in small spaces. “As supply chains continue to evolve we are focused on finding ways we can help our customers improve delivery times, retain drivers and increase overall productivity.  Our small format suite of products has helped change how people view their business from end to end.  We want to be the leader in reducing transportation dollars,” TriEnda grocery industry new product development representative, Jake Heinecke said.
With a 30×42 inch footprint, this Small Format Pallet works well in industries like grocery, retail, food and beverage, manufacturing, pharmaceutical, and many more. Pairing the Delivery Cart and Small Format Pallet together in these industries creates a safe, light weight, and quick solution to your small space material handling needs.
Whether you’re working with a space that doesn’t have a loading dock, a store with aisles too tight to get a normal pallet through, or a retail environment where you have a tight storage space, this small format duo from TriEnda is the solution to all of your small-space problems. Reach out to our sales team today to see how the Delivery Cart and Small Format Pallet could work for you!

What To Expect With A Global Rise In Materials Prices

Discussing costly material prices, recent supply shortages, and TriEnda’s actions to mitigate rising material costs.          

During the first two quarters of 2021, global supply chains have faced challenges with rising costs of material prices and supply shortages. At TriEnda, we’ve witnessed the change in costs and shortages like many other businesses.  While these changes can put a strain on supply chains, our processes and strong communication with customers has gone a long way to ensure we’re managing cost expectations and delivery schedules.

We discussed these challenges with our Vice President of Supply Chain Management, Sean Smith, to gain some deeper insights into this global issue and what he expects for the future.

Causes of Rising Material Costs            

When we spoke with Sean, he listed a few different causes for the rise in material prices we’ve seen:

  1. The COVID-19 Pandemic
  2. The Suez Canal Block
  3. The Recent Texas Freeze

All of these are playing a role in the challenges we’ve been working through, especially the ongoing pandemic. Sean stressed that they all tie into one major imbalance in supply and demand.

Back in March of 2020 when shutdowns began, certain industries completely shut their doors, while other businesses in industries deemed “essential” remained open and even prospered. Sean explained how a shift in supply and demand is leading to a lot of the issues occurring today. For example, take the microchip shortages. A sizeable percentage of the supply of microchips typically went to manufacturers in the automotive space to produce vehicles. But, when auto plants shutdown and people stayed in their homes, that supply didn’t stop instantly. In fact, the supply of microchips that was typically reserved for vehicle manufacturers went towards manufacturing video game consoles as people turned to those to keep themselves entertained at home. And now that auto makers are opening back up, they don’t have access to their typical supply of microchips that are now reserved for the high demand of videogame consoles, and thus their supply-chains are strained. The same principles of the shift in supply and demand has applied to many other materials across the globe.

Catastrophes like the Suez Canal blockage and the electric outages caused by cold temperatures in Texas also contributed to material price increases. 12% of global trade passes through the Suez Canal which includes 30% of all global container traffic. So, when the blockage occurred in March, it created a problematic domino effect within global supply chains.

The freezes in Texas were another unexpected catastrophe that are leading to material price increases. In Texas, there are many facilities that create the high-density polyethylene material that is used in the production of our thermoformed plastic pallets, and other plastic goods. Cold temperatures and the lack of preparation in the south led to power failures and the shutdowns of those plastic plants, which have a direct impact on businesses who rely on that plastic material like TriEnda.

 

Our Expectations Looking Ahead

Dealing with rising prices is challenging for our internal teams as well as our loyal customers. We do everything in our power to keep costs low for them, and it is understandable how price increases can steer businesses away from choosing to purchase plastic material handling solutions. After speaking with Sean, he made it clear that he sees some light at the end of the tunnel for material prices. Barring any more unforeseen catastrophes, Sean said that he expects to see a dip towards the norm for many material prices. We may not see pre-pandemic price levels, but they are expected to go down slightly as time goes on and more and more lockdown restrictions are lifted to allow for the production of more materials.

If you wish to dive into the world of custom thermoforming or are looking to convert your wood pallet options to reusable plastic ones, schedule a call with a member of our dedicated team today so that we can help you decide what’s right for your business!

A Look at the SmartDitch® Product Line

SmartDitch

Learn more about the flexible HDPE ditch lining system made by Krueger Family Industries.

SmartDitch® is one of KFI’s lesser known products that acts as a ditch lining system and is the smarter approach to water management.

With a variety of products and uses, the SmartDitch® product line is key to controlling drainage, flow control, erosion control, irrigation, on-site dewatering and much more.

A look into SmartDitch® must start with the forming process. Like many of our other products, SmartDitch® is made of High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE) material which is heated and formed through the thermoforming process. To an outsider, this product is essentially a trench lining, however the possibilities of the SmartDitch® product are endless. While this not only helps with water management, it also helps prevent erosion and sustain fragile environments from run-off.

This line of versatile channel lining solutions includes a trapezoidal ditch liner, a semi-circular ditch liner, and MegaDitch system, fittings for each liner system, and a maintenance pack.

  • Trapezoidal Ditch Liner– this trapezoidal system is a virtually leak-free channel lining system which has been designed to control and direct the flow of water and other fluids. The corrugated design helps regulate the flow of liquid from flat to steep grades while still being light weight and easy to handle and install.

  • Semi-Circular Ditch Liner– This system is often used for both permanent and temporary applications as an above ground lining solution. The corrugated material helps keep flow rates consistent and predictable while still providing excellent tensile strength and durability. At just 64 lbs per section, this lining system is easy to transport and install as well.

  • MegaDitch System– This is the largest scale water control solution in the SmartDitch® system. This was developed to fulfill larger scale liquid flow needs by using an expandable HDPE channel. Engineered with sidewalls to fit different slopes and grades, and base and wall section connected for maximum expandability, the MegaDitch system fits both flat and V-bottom channels. The great thing about MegaDitch is the flexibility. This system has virtually unlimited expansion capabilities and is ideal for uneven terrain, or steep slopes.
  • Fittings and Maintenance Packs– In addition to the SmartDitch® systems, fittings and maintenance packs are also important to each water flow system. The fittings are specially engineered to broaden the range of applications such as drainage, erosion and sediment control, land development, irrigation, industrial site containment systems and temporary flow diversions. The fittings provide the design flexibly needed for both large and small-scale projects. Maintenance packs are the simple, cost effective solution to permanently repair or maintain water control ditches.

The SmartDitch® system has been used in residential areas, mining facilities, landfills, industrial spaces, agricultural zones, and by the Department of Transportation near roads, highways, and construction areas. Used for everything from removing water from neighborhoods, to redirecting hazardous waste run-off, SmartDitch® helps create safe and environmentally friendly spaces.

For a smarter way to manage water, SmartDitch® is the leak-free channel lining system that is specially engineered to control and direct the flow of water or critical fluids. Interested in learning more? Contact our sales team today!

A Day in the Life of a Thermoforming Finisher

TriEnda employees working on a plastic pallet

Explore the workplace of thermoformed plastic manufacturing by stepping into the shoes of a Finisher at TriEnda.

Ever wonder how plastic pallets are manufactured? If so, you’ve come to the right place. We’ll be diving into the world of our production associates here at TriEnda to learn more about their duties, let’s start with our Finishers.

What Does A Finisher Do?

Our Finishers are important to the production of the thermoformed plastic packaging we create here at TriEnda. We value their role tremendously as they touch every part that is manufactured for our customers. Because of this, we emphasize the development of our Finishers and many go on to earn promotions within production or even to the office if they choose.

The role of a Finisher is pretty straight forward, they’re tasked with finishing off a thermoformed product so that it’s ready to be shipped to the customer. This can be done via trimming, cleaning, assembly, and packaging of the parts and products we produce. Finishers also support their team at their work cells by assisting with the setup of secondary finishing tools like drills and handheld routers and clean up their areas by sweeping excess plastic pellets and removing scrap from the ground.

Pictured here is an example of how a Finisher performs trimming, cleaning, and drilling to finalize a product before it is shipped. Once these green pallets are pulled off the thermoformer, two Finishers utilize handheld routers to perform a rough cut on the part and remove excess pallet. The pallets are then conveyed down to another Finisher who drills drain holes in each of the legs so that water and other liquids don’t get trapped in the pallet and make it unsanitary. The final step is to use a utility knife to smooth out the rough edges.

A Thermoforming Finisher’s Schedule

At TriEnda, Finishers work on a 2-2-3 schedule, or a 7-on-7-off one. They have 12 hour shifts that happen on days or nights. Each Finisher is given three breaks throughout the day, two 10-minute breaks and another 20-minute one. When days are hot in the summer, we provide extra heat breaks and add extra Finishers to each work cell to help lighten the workload and give everyone a chance to stay cool and rest.

Every day, a Finisher has the opportunity to work on at a different work cell which is producing a new product so that they see a variety of thermoforming work. With the wide variety of material handling solutions we create, a Finisher could go a very long time before working on the same thing twice. If you’re interested in becoming a Thermoforming Finisher and joining the TriEnda team, please apply today! To send us your application, you can visit our website to view our openings and a member of our team will be in touch with you shortly.

Why work at KFI?

Man smiling in an office

Exploring the many things that make KFI a great place to work!

With a multitude of employers out there, sometimes choosing the right organization to work for can be daunting. It is important to keep in mind the culture that an employer fosters, the feel of the work environment, and how the current employees review their time with the company. Luckily, here at Kruger Family Industries we have outstanding employees that would like to share a little bit about their experiences work for KFI with you

"The family atmosphere that KFI has across the organization is unmatched! Truly enjoy coming to work every day and there are always new things that challenge you.”
jacob hacker
Jacob Hacker
Inside Sales Manager, 1.5 years with Trienda
“What has kept me here all these years is really the fact that the people are decent, and the hours are good. The 2, 2, 3 schedule is great and you don’t get burned out.”
Brian Kearns
Extrusion Operator, 37 years with TriEnda
“My favorite thing about working at Penda is the people that I work with. I like showing people things that I learn throughout the day and teaching other people is a lot of fun.”
Wendy Baker
Wendy Baker
Lead Operator/Trainer, 11 years with Penda
“I really like that KFI is a family owned business that cares about their employees. I’ve been with the company for 34 years in the finance department and have gained so much knowledge and experience working here. I love the variety of work, opportunities to keep learning and interaction with great co-workers.”
Sheila McFarlane
Cost Accountant, 34 years with KFI
“My favorite thing about working here is the transparency, the friends, the comradery, and the education that we keep furthering with each other’s knowledge.”
rob fahey
Rob Fahey
Quality Technician, 9 years at TriEnda
“KFI is a great place to work because there is a true spirit of collaboration and cooperation to achieve common goals. The company is willing to invest in its people and in the best available technology, and I believe that combination will ultimately send us to the top in the plastics manufacturing realm.”
Diana Risner
Diana Risner
Project Manager – System Solutions, 4 years with TriEnda
“The family culture at KFI has fostered my personal and professional growth and has allowed me to gain the confidence to bring new ideas and opportunities to the table.”
riley haight
Riley Haight
Inside Sales Representative, 7 months at Penda
“Although I have been working with KFI for a short time, I have liked it because it is a place that inspires me to learn and develop my skills, also all the people here are always willing to guide me and help me.”
daniel reyna
Daniel Reyna
Inside Sales Representative, 2 months with TriEnda (Mexico)
“An Industrial Design career at KFI gives me the opportunity to utilize a wide range of skills: sketching, CAD modeling, 3D rendering, and graphic design, all while applying sustainable thermoforming design principles.”
alex greene
Alex Greene
Industrial Designer, 10 months with KFI
“I really enjoy the work schedule. Having 4 days off is like a mini vacation. I enjoy the family atmosphere, the people you work with become your family.”
Brandon Prew
Finisher, 10 years with Penda

Whether you are looking for a position as a design engineer, an extrusion operator, or a human resources generalist, KFI focuses on building a positive and collaborative work environment in every department. If you are interested in joining the KFI family, take a look at our careers page and apply today! We can’t wait to meet you!

An Industry-Wide Shift to Electric Vehicles and Its Impact on Automotive Packaging

an electric car charging

Why the automotive packaging industry is undergoing a transformation to meet the needs of the EV market.

From the first steam-powered vehicles to hit the road in the late 1700s, to the internal-combustion engines that built America’s automotive industry, the automobile has seen great technological advancements. Today, we’re continuing to see cars move the industry forward as greener, and more sustainable technologies are used to develop electric vehicles.

Electric vehicle only green traffic road sign.

Where is the Industry Headed?

Some of the world’s largest vehicle manufacturers are acknowledging the shift to electric with open arms. Volvo Cars is committed to distributing one million electrified cars into the market by the year 2025. Ford Media Center has reported that by mid-2026, 100% of the company’s passenger vehicles in Europe will have zero-emissions capabilities which means they will be either all-electric or plug-in hybrid, and by 2030 they will be completely and solely powered by electricity.

And it doesn’t stop there.

GM is on a path towards an all-electric future too, as they have committed to building 30 new global electric vehicles by 2025. At Toyota, Deputy Chief Officer of it’s ZEV Factory said in a presentation for its European market that the automotive manufacturer intends to sell 5.5 million electrified vehicles each year across the globe, by 2025. Even Honda is committing to the electric vehicle moving forward, as it was reported by Autoweek that the company will go electric and fuel-cell only by 2040.

All of these monumental changes are set to occur within our lifetime. Some will even happen by the end of this decade. These new electric vehicles and their manufacturers require durable and reliable material handling to transport heavy parts and components throughout their supply chains. Since they’ve placed a focus on going greener with the electric vehicle, these material handling options should be reusable too. This is exactly where TriEnda comes into play.

Battery Pack

TriEnda’s Electric Vehicle Component Packaging

At TriEnda, we specialize in developing reusable material handling solutions, and dedicate ourselves to understanding the automotive industry and the complex set of requirements that come with manufacturing a vehicle.

One important electric vehicle component that will require durable transportation is the battery cell. TriEnda specializes in creating custom battery packaging solutions. Our first battery packs were developed in 2014 when a customer approached us to design a lithium-ion cell pack. Since then, we’ve created three additional battery pack designs. First were complete battery assembly packs that fully encapsulate and protect batteries during shipments. Next came battery section reman packs that are used to transport re-manufactured battery sections to dealers or service centers where the battery section is placed in the battery assembly. The last design was the standard car battery packs which believe it or not hold standard car batteries that are shipped from the battery manufacturer before going to the assembly plant for installation into the vehicle.

TriEnda’s battery packs provide total enclosed protection of battery cells and are nestable for empty storage and return. Their heavy-duty HDPE construction increases strength, durability, and makes them impact resistant. The thermoformed plastic material used in the manufacturing process allows for easy cleaning of the battery packs and makes it so you can continually reuse them in you supply-chain. They can be manufactured with ergonomic options should you require optimal efficiency during loading and unloading. We can assemble the battery packs with lift assist and handles to improve ergonomics. Another perk is that are packs are designed with UN Certifiability in mind as we ensure these packaging options meet rigorous road impact testing requirements.

We’ve accomplished all of this through the power of our engineering teams that specialize in designing battery packs and being well versed in their certification needs. Our teams know the right questions to ask during the design process, and have extensive knowledge built up from past products in a variety of industries. That’s just the first of many benefits you take advantage of with one of the largest engineering teams in the thermoformed plastic manufacturing industry.

If you’re interested in working with us to develop custom battery packaging solutions, reach out to us today and a member of our team will be in touch! We’re eager to help move the automotive industry forward by providing top-of-the-line material handling solutions for the new age of electric vehicles.

TriEnda’s Quality Testing Processes and Certifications

Lab technician labeling item

Learn about our quality testing process and our certifications as a large thermoforming manufacturer.

For decades, TriEnda has led the way in developing material handling solutions and custom products for a variety of industries. It starts with our vertically integrated approach to manufacturing and is solidified by our commitment to our customers in providing the highest quality products and solutions we can.

Our commitment to quality leads the industry. We are an ISO 9001:2015 certified plastic manufacturer that utilizes award winning processes and design solutions to create innovative and cost-effective products. And when it comes to testing, this is what sets us apart. First, we test our materials that come in each day to ensure they are up to standard for use on our production floor. Then, once we create a thermoformed material handling solution, that too undergoes rigorous testing so we can ensure your products get from A to B without any hiccups. We’ll touch on each of our certifications and the quality testing processes that we perform here at TriEnda.


Our 
Certifications

ISO 9001:2015 Certification

This certification is an international standard that specifics certain requirements businesses must satisfy within their quality management system. It is based on the plan-do-check methodology and ensures that we provide and follow our process-oriented approach. An organization that meets the ISO 9001:2015 standard shows they have the capabilities to consistently provide products and services that meet customer and regulatory requirements. Learn more about the requirements of ISO 9001:2015 certification here.

Six Sigma Black Belt Certified

Our teams are Six Sigma Black Belt certified which means they’re versed in a set of tools and techniques to improve production processes, eliminate defects, and guarantee quality. The certification gives our teams the skillset to identify risks, errors, or defects in our processes and enables them to remove them. Organizations certified at the Six Sigma Black Belt level have a high-level of competence within the phases of Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control as defined by the IASCC.

Green Belt Certification

The IASSC Green Belt Certification empowers our teams with the core and advanced elements of Lean Six Sigma Methodology. After receiving the certification, our associates understand how to implement, perform, interpret, and apply Lean Six Sigma at a high level. Organizations obtaining Green Belt Certification possess a thorough understanding of all aspects of the Lean Six Sigma Methodology, which ensure product designing capabilities.


TriEnda’s Quality Testing

The following tests we perform are used to gauge and control the quality of the materials we use, and the solutions we provide. All inbound material is tested by our Quality Control department as it arrives at the facility each day. Upon a completion and passing, the material gets approved for use in production

Melt Flow Rate Test

This test is used to determine the rate of extrusion for molten thermoplastic resins using an extrusion plastometer. The melt flow rate test is an important part to the quality checking process as it confirms that the incoming materials we receive are composed of the right resins. If a material undergoes this test and the results aren’t as expected, this confirms that an unknown material is in the sample.

Density Test

By utilizing a benchtop liquid density column, our teams can determine the density of solid plastics with this method. The density test confirms the quality and uniformity of incoming materials after their density is determined.

Hot Air Orientation Test

This method allows us to determine the degree of unrestrained linear thermal shrinkage at given specimen temperatures of plastic sheeting using a standard industrial oven. The hot air orientation test pinpoints certain temperatures that incoming materials will experience shrinkage before they are sent to production.

Impact Testing

Impact testing covers the determination of the impact resistance or toughness of rigid plastics by calculating the amount of energy absorbed during fracture. It is performed with a Gardner-SPI impact tester. This test is extremely important for us to perform as an industry leading provider of material handling products. By performing this test, we know that our pallets and other solutions withstand all the demands of the different industries we serve.

Materials testing and product performance testing are just a few of the material handling services we provide here at TriEnda. With a focus and commitment to quality, our teams can guarantee the performance of the custom packaging solutions we can design for your business. Contact us today to experience the TriEnda difference.

Can It Be Thermoformed?

plastic raw material

Explore the expansive possibilities of thermoforming.

Thermoforming is a process that heats up plastic sheeting to a temperature that makes it pliable and able to be formed with a mold. After the plastic is molded, the excess is trimmed to create the finished product. Large, flat products are the best candidates to be created via the thermoforming process whereas smaller, high volume parts are best suited to the injection-molded process.

The thermoforming process has a wide array of product possibilities beyond the material handling solutions that TriEnda produces today. Explore the expansive possibilities of thermoforming.

Yes, it CAN be thermoformed:

  • Recreational equipment like canoes, kayaks, sleds, and more
  • Sunroofs
  • Large, exterior vehicle body panels
  • Exterior Mudguards
  • Underbody debris protection panels
  • Headliners
  • Storage tubs
  • Pillar covers
  • Bunks
  • Cabinet Systems

 

No, it CAN’T be thermoformed:

  • Small latches
  • Handles
  • Door pulls
  • Small plastic pieces for gauges, closures and components
  • Insulators
  • Gaskets

 

 

There are many products that lend themselves well to the thermoforming process and some that are more suited to being created via the injection molding method. If you are wondering if the product you have in mind would be a candidate for the thermoforming process, reach out to our experienced sales team to learn more.

Explore the Green Advantages of Thermoforming

sustainability infographic

Learn why plastic pallets are not only more cost effective for your company but also the sustainable choice.

TriEnda always focuses on sustainability. Whether it is making our manufacturing process more efficient, creating environmentally friendly recycling systems, or showing possible customers the environmental benefits of using plastic versus wood pallets; we continually put environmental responsibility at the forefront of everything we do.

Take a look at all of the green advantages that thermoforming has to offer!

 

 

Interested in learning even more? Feel free to contact us to explore all the advantages that TriEnda’s thermoformed products and experienced team has to offer.