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300 packaging variants become 2

Alternate packaging for camshafts

Flexible alternative packaging that can be used for hundreds of different product variants: industrial giant ThyssenKrupp was looking for alternative packaging for various camshafts to replace some that could each only be used for one variant. Knüppel’s development of a modular tray means that approx. 300 variants of the original packaging can now be replaced with just two packaging variants.

This solution is the result of Knüppel’s special strength: an in-house development department together with a wholesaler’s product portfolio. While manufacturers favour their own products and retailers usually do not engage in packaging development , we can offer our customers special and customised packaging solutions.

The customer

ThyssenKrupp’s roots go back to the 19th century, and today the group is a globally renowned company with sales of over 40 billion euros. As a result of many years of cooperation and the positive experience gained, ThyssenKrupp’s multi-plant Supply Chain Management project management approached Knüppel with a request for process optimisation in camshaft production.


Tray for camshafts

The brief

ThyssenKrupp produces – among other things – camshafts for a large number of car manufacturers with an even greater number of variants. The company is still pleased with the current series packaging, but the alternative packaging solution had significant potential for optimisation: a separate rigid packaging was used for each of the several hundred variants. Storing the right packaging for the respective camshaft variant and being able to provide it when needed was time-consuming and an outer carton was required for transport – a safe but inefficient process. Using paper fibre-based materials for disposable packaging, however, continues to be a requirement of sustainably-minded customers.

The requirements

  • Can be used for several hundred camshaft variants
  • Uses cardboard
  • Can be transported without outer carton
  • Preserves process reliability
  • Contributes to process optimisation
Alternate packaging for camshafts
Tooth strip for camshaft packaging

The solution

Modular solution reduces number of packaging variants

The packaging developed by Knüppel is a set comprising the modules corrugated tray, tooth bar and guide bar: the corrugated tray features stacking lugs, the rounded tooth bar has V-grooves and the guide bar is a converted standard edge protector made of solid board. This is used to create suitable packaging for six components for each camshaft variant in a few simple steps, which achieves the same stability as the previous component-specific solutions through a clamping mechanism. The finished packaging differs only slightly from equivalent previous solutions, but with just two more sets, around 300 different packaging variants can be replaced.

Cardboard tray

Material savings with continued use of cardboard

All set modules are made of cardboard, as required. The material saving that is required comes from a small detail: the trays can be stacked directly on a Euro pallet in a stable manner with their stacking lugs and only need to be closed off with a short carton lid. While the amount of material used in the packaging sets is similar to that of the previous packaging, the new solution almost completely eliminates the outer carton.

Tray for camshafts with corrosion protection

Process optimisation and increase in process reliability

Modular packaging was fitted into the existing process according to requirements and resulted in an optimisation of the process as well as an improvement in process reliability:

  • the on-demand assembly of the set makes the right packaging available at the right moment of the packaging process. The simplicity of setting the positions provides a similar process reliability as rigid packaging, but the process step is much more efficient.
  • Using individual products in combination reduces the required storage space enormously. 
  • The previous solution had an angular tooth bar adapted to only one camshaft shape, whereas the new bars are V-shaped and their corners are rounded. This makes it less risky to apply the VCI film, while the V-grooves allow various camshaft shapes to be accommodated. They also only touch the bar at the intended contact surfaces.
  • Eliminating the outer box not only saves material, but also simplifies handling when loading and unloading the pallet.