Trialing Best Practices: Cereal Inserts

By Phil Ziesemer

Production trials for in-pack inserts are designed to give plant personnel the opportunity to evaluate new inserts in a production setting. The goal of each trial is to ensure that plant personnel have the information they need to complete a successful production run, identify insert or production line modifications that may be required, and to evaluate the overall feasibility and operational impact of the insertion process.

Insight Promotions has been conducting insert trials for over 20 years and can effectively plan and conduct insert trials that provide critical learning in order to quantify the impact and potential cost on plant operations. While there is a cost of trial, it is minimal compared to the cost of failure when an insert cannot be executed as planned. While some of the costs of failure can be easily measured (production downtime, insert cost, marketing materials) the more significant cost of failure is the negative brand perception if the insert is poorly executed.

Insight Promotions has identified 4 key steps to running a successful insert trial:

1) Evaluation & Planning – Insight facilitates an initial meeting with the Operations Business Manager to evaluate the insert and determine its need to be tested, identify potential risks that could impact a successful production run, and select the Key Plant Representative that will coordinate all plant activities required for the trial.

2) Plant Trial Commitment – The Operations Business Manager facilitates a group meeting that includes
the Key Plant Representative and the Insight team. This meeting establishes the plant specific Criteria for
Success, schedule the trial date and determine which SKU’s (brand & box size) will be tested at each plant. The
SKU’s chosen is considered based on product density, box size, and fill level.

3) Trial Execution – The plant trial begins with a kick-off meeting that includes all of the key stakeholders
from the plant and the Insight team. The Criteria for Success is reviewed along with the trial process. The
Key Plant Representative will ensure that the planned trial conditions closely align with the expected operating
conditions at start-up. (line speed, rails, SKU, etc.) Throughout the trial, Insight actively communicates with
the Key Plant Representative to evaluate early learning and identify effective means to trouble shoot any issues.
Once the testing is complete, product is reworked through the plants normal rework procedures.

4) Data Analysis and Insert Approval – Insight consolidates the quantitative data collected at the trial and
summarize any qualitative data that would be helpful in understanding the plant conditions, insert performance,
and trial results. This data is evaluated based on the Criteria for Success and presented to the Operations
Business Manager and the Key Plant Representative. The outcome of this step is to confirm a decision regarding
the plants ability to successfully run the insert at start-up.

Posted in