“Who is who in baby diapers?”
By Carlos Richer
Richer Investment S.A. CV
-Diaper Consulting Services-
13 October 2009
Who is who in baby diapers?
Who is who in baby diapers may be apparently a simple question to ask, unfortunately there is no
simple answer, at least none that I know, even after spending 25 years of my life in this business.
During the next few pages I will attempt at providing a step-by-step guideline to help the reader
find out the answer to the question and hopefully teach you how to identify the better diaper
from a group of diaper samples. The objective of this paper is to enable you to find an answer
rather than giving you my personal choice and later end up with a controversy. I believe at the
end we will end up choosing the same one or at least one with very similar properties. Even
when the main objective of this paper is directed to help the no manufacturer, I believe a few tips
will be useful even for many experienced diaper producers.
Before we get started on this trip, we must realize that there are different points of view on how
to seek for the best answer to the who is who in diapers question. From the point of view of the
consumer, what you really want is the best performance for the buck. You want the product to
comply or exceed with all of your personal requirements, whatever they may be; you do not
really care if the manufacturer is making any money or not. This is the true acid test for diaper
samples because you only want the very best you can get. From the point of view of the large
trader, you are not only looking at the performance of the product but also you need to pay
attention at its manufacturing costs with respect to all its competitors to make sure the
sustainability of your brand in the long term or to start looking for an alternative supplier.
Finally, from the point of view of the diaper manufacturer, you want to make sure your product
is the best choice for the consumer but within your own cost limitations as you are not interested
in losing money. As a manufacturer you want to make sure your raw materials are optimized and
that every effort is directed at product optimization but within cost minimization. Anything that
needs to be in the diaper in order to gain consumer preference is included and anything else is
removed. Now that we have reflected on these different points of view, let us get started.
For the same reason you would never compare a Lamborghini with a Honda Civic, you do not
want to compare diapers from economic market segments that may have drastic differences in
performance. At the end, what is the value of knowing that a Pampers Cruisers from the US is
better than a Pom Pom from Guatemala (Fig. 1), when the first diaper is sold at three and a half
times the price of the second? To make the ground fair to everyone we most look for answers
within the same group or segment.
Depending on the area of the world, most markets can be divided in three to five segments. In
emerging markets, diaper brands are typically sub divided in three groups: Economy or Tier 1,
Value or Tier 2 and Premium or Tier 3. More mature markets can be further divided into 4
groups: Economy or Tier 1, Value or Tier 2, Premium or Tier 3 and Supreme or Tier 4. Of
course it is possible to make more subdivisions (in fact most marketing directors in mature
markets will use 5 tiers), however in my opinion 4 groups are more than enough for almost all
diaper benchmarking studies. I prefer to simply use the name Tier 1 to Tier 4 to avoid any
confusion that a Value segment may be a better choice for the consumer just because of the name
rather than an Economic or Premium segment; as you will see many times this is not the case.
Typically higher tiers bring higher profits to the manufacturer or to the trader, and the lowest
profits are almost always associated to the lowest tiers, like Tier 1 and 2. The explanation is very
simple, it only means that lower tiers are using the simplest technology, which is available to
every one in the business so there is much more competition. Anyone can make a cheap diaper
but few can offer a supreme.
Choosing the brands to test.
From the perspective of a diaper manufacturer, a few may want to believe that some of their
brands are positioned at a higher market segment from where they truly deserve to be, this of
course brings the possibility of higher profits to them, specially if they are successful at
convincing everyone that they can be compared with higher end products. This may be also true
from the perspective of the large traders and their private label brands. Based on this situation
which criteria should we use?
If you want a simple method for the classification of diaper samples into segments or tier groups,
I suggest using only the perspective of the consumer. From this point of view, market
segmentation is a direct function of the price of the diaper at the shelves, nothing else matters.
The simplest way is to group diapers in four segments based on the maximum and minimum
available price at the shelf. Then you can choose to divide the gap in price by four, maybe by
increments of 25% each, this can also be modified depending on the total number of samples as
you do not want to end with a tier group of many and to end with another tier group of only one.
Make sure you take price references based on the same diaper size and the same kind of store,
thus avoiding making the comparison between an every day low price from a large discount store
such as Wal-Mart or Target with the regular price from a small pharmacy or convenient store. If
you are a consumer you want to concentrate only on those brands that you can find within your
market; if you are a trader you may want to include diapers from other regions that are available
for importation at a competitive price. If you are a manufacturer, you want to compare yourself
with your major competitors, both local and international. Fig. 2 and Fig. 3 show a summary of
selected Mexican brands organized by Tier.
Choosing the right samples to test.
This is an important decision and its answer depends on the degree of precision that you want to
obtain from the tests. It is a known fact that most National brands in mature markets are more
consistent between diaper to diaper when compared with other smaller manufacturers. The
problem with many independent and smaller producers is that quality may be less consistent and
in order to avoid this problem from affecting your test results you need to increase the size of the
sample to more accurately portray its market representation. Of course this may be impossible to
do as a consumer since the larger the size of the samples is, the more expensive the test will
become. This is the reason why large traders and manufacturers are the only ones doing
comparative tests, however it is also common now that many students choose diaper testing for
their Science Fair projects with results that are later shared with all the parents visiting the
How many samples you need and where to get them.
In summary, you will need about 25 diapers per brand to complete most tests. It’s important you
make sure these few diapers are representative of the whole market where they are sold. With
most large National brands you may be able to buy one single bag of diapers and have a good
market representation. For many others you need as many as five bags purchased from 5
different locations in order to obtain a more accurate representation, then you can take 5 diapers
from each bag to meet the required 25 diapers that you need to perform all the tests.
Diapers are made at very high speeds and just a few minutes of production could translate into
filling the whole shelve space of a store. This is the reason why it is not recommended to buy all
the bags from the same location; they may not represent the production capability of a
The most accurate way I know to gain market representation is using an approximation to
military standards, which requires opening 25 boxes from 25 different locations and then taking
only one diaper from each box. Of course this method is an extreme situation, as it will end up
damaging many bags and boxes. You will only do it when you need maximum precision.
It is better to choose the diaper size that has the highest sales, most times this mean choosing size
3 (Medium) or size 4 (Large) but this depends on the specific region.
What needs to be tested?
Many different things need to be tested in order to end up with a fair classification of who is who
and be able to identify the best diapers from a group of samples all taken from the same tier. The
most important diaper performance parameters can be further divided in the following
1- Diaper construction craftsmanship (all 25 are tested none is damaged).
2- The absorbent pad system. (10 of 25, damaged after the tests).
3- The fastening system (5 of 25, damaged after the tests).
4- The containment system (5 of 25, damaged after the tests).
5- Comfort and luxury, including all the bells and whistles (5 none is damaged).
6- The cost of manufacturing. Only useful for traders and manufacturers (5 of 25).
1-Diaper construction Craftsmanship.
This is one of the most important categories to test, and amazingly enough it does not require the
use of any sophisticated tool or equipment, not even a laboratory is needed. In addition the
samples are not damaged at all. You only need a set of keen eyes and a scale and ruler and to
know exactly what to look for. In simple terms, the idea is to audit the samples one by one with
great detail but just from an optical inspection. This way, diapers can be classified based on the
quality of craftsmanship of its construction.
My proposal is to classify the visual audit in 4 groups. Those that look perfect to the naked eye, I
call them diapers with no defects; those that have a minor problem, the kind of problem that only
a manufacturer can detect but most consumers wont, I call them diapers with a Minor defect;
those that have a problem that even a regular consumer can detect but the diaper is still usable
(however it wont work as well as it was expected), I call them with a Major defect; and finally
those diapers that have a critical problem and can not be used by the consumer, or it becomes a
risk, I call them diapers with a Critical defect. Of course the idea is for all diapers to be perfect,
and many times they are, but you may be surprised to know that other times, especially
concerning developing markets, this is not usually the case.
To keep everything simple enough we can agree on a method for this classification, starting with
a grade of 100 for diapers with no defects and subtracting accordingly. For example, we can
decide to have one critical defect equal 10 major defects, and 1 major defect equal 10 minor
defects. Let us also assume that every minor defect equals one point from a scale of 0 to 100.
I think using this equation is a good place to start.
For example, a brand of diapers where all 25 samples had no visual defects has a grade of 100,
however a brand of diapers where we find 1 major defect, 15 minor defects and 9 diapers with no
defects has a grade of 75 (1 X 10 + 15= 25). Using the same simple system to evaluate
craftsmanship, a diaper with only one critical defect, 5 minor defects and 19 with no defects has
a grade of zero. In this particular case the grade of zero would be the same even if there were no
other minor defects found. Obviously this is a very subjective equation to use, but it is much
better than not using anything at all. In addition, let us keep in mind that this is only one
dimension of many more to measure. The fact remains that consumers do not like defects and
will give you a low qualification when they find them. Probably the actual numbers are even
worst than what I have proposed with the suggested equation. Fig 4 and Fig. 5 show samples of
Examples of Minor Defects: Minor tape folding angle (for example less than 25 degrees); back
sheet folding at the edges (less than 20 mm); wrong C Folding or slightly out of position (less
than 25 mm); ADL slightly out of position or off center (but still inside the absorbent pad); a 3D
pad knife cut out of registration with the high density area at the back instead of the front; wrong
leg cuff height (less than 20 mm), etc.
Examples of Major Defects: Leg cuffs stay down and wont open due to hot melt glue
migration; excessive tape or lateral ear folding angles (more than 25 degrees); a missing leg cuff
on either side; an exposed drop of glue; a small window less than 50 mm in diameter when
looking at the diaper against the light (without fluff) within the absorbent pad, etc.
Examples of Critical Defects: A small hole on the back sheet; a piece of leg trimming not
removed by the vacuum system or partially attached; the lack of a tape or the frontal landing
zone; exposed pulp due to nonwoven rupture; leg gathers or leg cuffs without the elastic; open
ends not properly sealed exposing the pulp; presence of fungus or spores on the diaper, etc.
Another important dimension of craftsmanship during diaper construction has to do with the
process control used during its manufacturing. Taking the weights of the individual samples and
measuring its standard deviation will give you a good idea of the weight control during
manufacturing. A standard deviation below 0.5 grams is considered excellent; anywhere
between 0.5 to 1 gram is acceptable and anything above 1 gram is considered less desirable.
Diapers with total weight standard deviations above 1.5 grams are considered inferior.
Unfortunately there are still diapers in some regions with standard deviation above 2 grams. The
worst diaper inside the bag is usually used to judge the quality for the whole bag, a large
standard deviation means that you can expect different performance from diapers in the same
bag; this is linked to lack of craftsmanship as the consumer also expects for all of them to
perform just the same. For example a diaper with a weight of 40 grams and a standard deviation
of 2 grams will end up with diapers in the range of 36 to 44 grams with a probability of 95%, and
34 to 46 grams with a probability of 99.7%. This is linked to lack of craftsmanship as the
consumer expects for all of them to perform just the same.
2-The absorbent pad system.
Often considered the heart of the diaper, the truth is the absorbent pad is of little use on its own
and the only way a diaper can achieve an optimal result is by having the absorbent pad work in
harmony with the containment system and the overall diaper design. This is why some diapers
that score high on the absorbency test at the lab can end up with a poor absorbency evaluation
from the consumers.
The absorbent pad system is formed by the following individual components: the absorbent pad
(a mix of pulp and SAP); a wrapping carrier (usually made of tissue or light weight Spunbond);
the ADL patch, usually a cut and place piece of high loft nonwoven used as a reservoir and to
help move the liquids; an integrity hot melt adhesive used to hold everything together; and
sometimes the use of a layer of curly fiber on top of the traditional pad just below the ADL.
Graph 1 shows the grams/m2 of ADLs used in the United States in 2009, note the new 160 GSM
used by Huggies Pure and Natural, the highest weight we have seen yet.
In order to test which diaper has the best absorbent pad system, we need to perform the following
• Total free swell capacity (using saline solution at 0.9%).
• Centrifugal or retentive capacity (also called absorbency under load).
• Strike trough times (also called liquid penetration times).
• Surface rewets.
• Wicking Speed at 90 and/or 45 degrees.
• Pad symmetry and 3D indexes.
Of course many more sophisticated tests can be done to test a diaper´s absorbent pad matrix,
however these are the tests that you can do with less than $1,000 USD invested in laboratory
equipment. In fact, with the exception of the variable speed centrifugal machine to test retentive
capacity, you can buy most of the tools required to do the testing with less than $100 USD. In
my opinion, these tests should be more than enough to give you a very good idea of pad
performance when high precision is not so important. Step by step instructions on how to do
these tests can be found using this link: http://disposablediaper.net/files/DiaperTests.pdf
In a previous Insight paper presented in 2006 entitled: What is Absorbency: Does anyone
really know? (use this link: http://disposablediaper.net/files/Insight2006CRicher.doc), I
explained the many interactions that can have an effect on perceived absorbency. Absorbency
depends not only on the mix and the quantity of SAP and Cellulose used to form the pad, but
also the correct use of an Acquisition Distribution Layer (ADL) and the use of the best geometry.
The chassis with the elastomeric material as well as the performance of the leg cuffs both have
an effect. The real important issue is not absorbency by itself but the perceived absorbency from
the point of view of the consumer. In order to avoid repeating what I wrote on my previous
paper, I want to summarize a few key concepts.
Many diaper manufacturers still believe that the best diaper that they can sell is the diaper with
the highest free swell capacity; in most cases this is not true. In fact it is one of the best ways to
make sure you will end with an inferior product. An obvious change of strategy can be better
understood only after looking at P&G, the largest manufacturer of diapers in the world. P&G
decided long time ago to limit the amount of free swell capacity making an effort to avoid
exceeding consumer requirement in exchange for better capacity under load and much better
rewets, all of these thanks to a better liquid managing system than those used by most other
competitors. The final effect is a better perception of absorbency by the consumer at an optimal
cost, even when this is not the actual fact from the laboratory in terms of measured capacity.
How to qualify the efficiency of the absorbent pad between so many parameters?
From the previous listed parameters, two of them remain most times unchanged. The symmetry
index measures the difference between the diaper pad when is cut in two identical pieces along
pad’s length. The best diaper will be a symmetric one, with an Index of zero, where one half has
the same identical weight as the other. In fact a problem with the Symmetry index only shows
lack of craftsmanship during construction as this problem can be easily corrected at the drum
formation with the diverter valves and with the correct balance of the vacuum inside the drum.
Unfortunately many producers pay little attention at the mill and drum and end up with leaks that
are associated to only one side of the diaper due to this unbalance condition in the materials used
inside the diaper, even when its simple to correct.
Graph 4 Graph 5
Diaper 3D index is a function of the tri dimensionality used in the pocket during pad formation,
which is the difference between the weights in the front of the diaper with respect to the back.
Most times a well-planned 3D pad shape has better results than a flat design. It is quite polemic
to say weather a 75% index is better than a 45% as it all depends on the overall design. One
simple way I know how much 3D may be needed is by doing many consumer tests and finding
the point where diaper leakage probability at the front is just as frequent as diaper leakage at the
back. If you do not get these results it probably means you have not optimized the geometry of
your pad. As an example, the typical flat diaper with no tri dimensionality ratio typically ends
up with more leakage at the stomach of the baby when compared with the back end. Additionally
one must take into account the benefits of managing the reservoir of liquids where the diaper is
subjected to the least hydraulic pressures. The 3D index can only be changed by investing on
new screens for the pockets used in the drum former. Unless new pockets are purchased there is
little else you can do. Graph 4 and Graph 5 show samples of Symmetry and 3D index.
Even when Symmetry and 3D indexes have an important role in pad performance and specially
from the point of view of proper diaper machine adjustment, they have less priority when
compared to the results obtained by the centrifugal capacity test (retentive capacity) and the
surface rewets. In fact the Symmetry and 3D indexes are already taken into account within the
other two results. Many people take an obsessive care on the samples before they make the tests
at the lab, taking the diaper from the machine and making sure it arrives to the lab untouched like
if it was delivered on a silver platter. The reality is that test results can change dramatically once
the baby uses the diaper for a short time, even for just a few minutes, lowering the original
density found on a fresh diaper taken from the diaper line. In fact I believe it is better to check
these parameters after the diaper has been manipulated (whenever possible), just making sure the
samples all experience the exact same manipulation.
In my opinion these two tests, Rewets and Retentive Capacity, are the most important tests for
assessing pad absorbency performance, followed by strike trough times, which have an important
correlation but only when diaper containment is an issue; and the speed of wicking, which will
correlate with liquid distribution within the pad. Total capacity is probably the less important
parameter, other than to use it for diaper optimization once you know the value that should never
be exceeded at a given leakage probability.
To start the classification process for who is who with respect to diaper pad absorbency, we start
by taking a look at the results for surface rewet together with the results of centrifugal capacity,
all of them previously classified from the highest to the lowest retentive capacity and from
lowest to highest rewets (in this case a low rewet means a drier skin and of course a better
diaper). First rewet at 100 ml insult is not as important as most diapers will be totally dry and
then it is impossible to see any differences, however the second and third rewet are much better.
Diapers with the highest retentive centrifugal capacity will have a higher score as well as diapers
with the lowest secondary and third rewets. I suggest at least 5 tests for rewet and capacity to
obtain an average. If two samples have similar performance in terms of retentive capacity within
a 5 to 10% range, then those with the lowest rewet will take the lead as the better diapers.
If the strike trough times are abnormally high with respect to the other samples, then this result
by itself will demerit its relative position on the chart. When two diapers do not leak, mothers
have a preference for the diaper that feels drier to the skin of the baby, independently of its total
capacity. Another reason for this preference is that there is a correlation between the baby’s
comfort and how dry the diaper is at the surface. This also translates into better nights for the
baby and better nights for the parents too. If the liquid takes too much time to penetrate the
diaper, it only increases its risk of leakage to the outside, even more when the leg cuffs do not
work well or when they have open channels at the ends.
The fact that all variables are important and interconnected makes this whole process more of an
art than a straightforward method that can be followed as a cooking recipe. This is one reason
why hiring consultants with many years of practical experience with benchmarking testing and
managing focus groups is a good alternative.
3- The Fastening System.
From the point of view of diaper performance we may only need to know that the circumference
of the diaper has the right range of size according to the needed waist of the babies for that
particular size (measured using the actual tape and frontal not the chassis); and to make sure that
the diaper will stay in place by the use of a strong attachment. To know these parameters we
need to do some simple dimensional measurements and we also need to test the shear and peel
force of the tapes once they are attached to the frontal landing zone using a digital tensile tester.
We can do the following tests:
• Maximum and minimum waist circumference.
• Tape peel force (using its full original width).
• Tape shear force (using its full original width).
• Lateral tape and frontal tape relative dimensions between each other.
How to make sure the fastening system will not fail.
Tape shear force is seldom a problem; most diaper materials such as the nonwoven and the
backsheet will tear apart before the tape can be opened when using a shear (180 degree) angle.
A shear force of more then 3 Newton is quite acceptable and more than enough. Sometimes peel
force (opening the tape at 90 degree angle) can be a problem. Depending on the size of the
diaper and whether or not the baby has learned how to open the tape, more force is needed to
make sure the baby will not be able to open the tapes while wearing the product. In my
experience after analyzing many consumer tests with a variety of tapes, I look for a peel force
greater than 0.35 Newton for newborn and small size diapers; greater than 0.45 Newton for
medium; and more than 0.55 Newton for Toddlers and above. Using an extremely high peel
force, for example a peel force greater than 2 Newton may create other problems, such as making
it also hard for the mother to open and reposition the tape, or making the tape too noisy to make
a comfortable diaper change when the baby is sleeping. A simple way to classify the samples
according to the performance of the fastening system used on the diaper is to make sure they all
pass with these minimum requirements and if they don’t at least make sure they are fully
validated with consumer testing.
From the point of view of the perceived quality of the fastening system, many more variables are
important, such as the use of a mechanical hook and loop system versus the use of adhesive
BOPP tapes; the use of a cloth-like finish versus plastic, and to the particular design art used on
the frontal tape, in addition to the relative size of each component.
The use of a reduced or a full chassis is also important from the point of view of manufacturing
costs and more importantly as a possibility to be able to afford to use fully stretchable ears.
Flexible ears can be quite expensive especially when you do not have any other means to save on
raw material (example with a reduced chassis) in order to afford this cost.
4- The containment system.
We want to make sure the diaper is capable of managing the storage of liquids under pressure
without leaking to the outside. Several tests can help us understand how well the diaper is
prepared to carry out this job. Some of the tests that we can do to check the performance of the
containment systems involve:
• The performance of the leg cuffs, making sure they work with no leaks.
• The size of the open channels at the end of the cuffs.
• Elastic stretch used during manufacturing.
• Making sure elastics will work after subjected to high temperatures. Oven creep tests.
• The pinhole test to make sure the backsheet is free of micro holes that may leak.
Most diapers in mature markets have good performing leg cuffs, like in the US and Japan and
Europe; however, in many developing markets this is not the case. Even today, more than half of
the diaper brands I tested in Africa have leg cuffs that cannot hold the liquids; some National
brands in Africa did not pass the test either. A similar situation can be found in some countries in
South and Central America and also in India, look at Fig.7
The solution to fix the faulty leg cuffs most times is quite simple, the real problem is that the
diaper producer is not even aware that they are producing diapers with leg cuffs that do not work.
Another typical problem of developing markets is the inability of the elastomeric to hold its
relative position when subjected to higher temperatures. Most times this can be fixed just by
applying the right kind of adhesive and with the right quantity for each application. Again this is
part of process control and the quality of craftsmanship during production.
When a diaper has open channels the risk of leakage at the ends is increased, especially when the
baby is taking a nap or sleeping during the night while he or she is resting on his or her side. This
risk is increased when liquid penetration time is slow or reduced when it is fast. Amazingly
many diapers in the US including the major National brands are still made with open channels.
Graph 7. Many diapers in Europe and Japan, as well as in Mexico and Colombia, are already
made with these channels closed.
Most diapers in mature markets will comply with almost all of these tests, however many diapers
in developing markets will experience some kind of problem. Depending on the feature that
failed we will have more elements to help us classify the better diapers from the rest.
5- Comfort and Luxury.
This is without a doubt the most subjective chapter of our diaper classification process. The
problem is that most features in this category have little or nothing to do with diaper performance
but a lot to do with consumer preference. This is very hard to anticipate with a simple laboratory
test, unless you use some subjectivity and feedback from actual consumers.
Some of the most important features to identify are:
• Use or not of a softer clothlike backsheet instead of a film.
• Use of registered or random printing for the frontal tape and the backsheet.
• Use of easy recognizable cartoon characters, such as Disney, Sesame Street, etc.
• Use of special skin topical lotions and/or perfumes.
• Use of ecological claims.
As most of these features have little effect on performance the best way to know how to classify
them is to do it with a focus group. If you do not have the possibility to use a focus group, then
at least ask a group of your friends, those that have a baby and are used to changing the diaper,
what they think about all these particular features as a total package. You can then classify the
samples from the one with the highest score all the way to the bottom.
6- Cost of manufacturing.
Cost of manufacturing is only important if you are a diaper producer or a large trader with your
own private label brands. In order to be able to estimate the cost of manufacturing of any diaper,
you need to know the exact usage of each diaper element and also the cost of each of the raw
materials used in its construction, this is often called Reverse Engineering. This is not as difficult
as it may seem, specially once you know a few tricks on how to perform reverse engineering and
you are familiar with the diaper construction process. Opening a diaper in its basic components
requires a few simple tools, such as a hair drier to help you separate components previously
glued with hot melt, the use of gloves so you do not get burned during the process, a scale with at
least a two digit accuracy, a ruler, some solvent in case it may be necessary to separate a raw
material from the glue, and a Ton of patience. Some components such as the quantity of SAP and
cellulose used in the construction of the pad can be easily extrapolated once you know the total
capacity of the pad, its original weight, and its retentive centrifugal capacity. Extracting a small
sample of SAP with little or no fluff contamination is a bit hard but not impossible. Once you
have the individual performance of the SAP in terms of free swell and retentive capacity you can
calculate the amount of SAP in the mix using trial and error. Most times the error is quite small.
If you are a manufacturer is very likely that you already know the cost of the raw materials or are
in a position to estimate those that you do not typically use with your diapers by asking your own
Knowing diaper performance without knowing diaper cost is only half of the story. You need to
know both of them in order to fully evaluate your product against your competitors.
Date: July 12, 2009 Report of Laboratory results
SOUTH AFRICA Tests: Total Overall Dimensions
BRAND Huggies Dry Comfort Cuddlers Pampers Active Baby
Size Large Large Large
Total Diaper Width. 310 325 327
Diaper width at diaper's crotch 243 246 225
Total Diaper Chassis With Ears 310 335 335
Maximum Waist Circumference 554 572 552
Minimum Waist Circumference 362 356 386
Total Diaper Length 485 489 497
Use of Cloth like (Yes/No) YES YES YES
Use of Printed Back-sheet NO YES YES
Synchronized Printing (Yes/No) NO NO YES
Pad Width 100 105 115
Pad Length 360 390 422
Pad width at pad's crotch 95 105 78
Height of Leg Cuffs 25 37 32
Folded Edge Nonwoven at leg cuff 6 18 13
No. of Spandex at Cuff per side 1 1 2
No. of Synthetic Rubber at Cuff 0 0 0
Open Ends at Tack Down 26 22 23
ADL Width 90 85 71
ADL Length 205 176 247
ADL (GSM) 35.79 33.69 69.97
Frontal Tape Width 39 36 41
Frontal Tape Length 192 223 205
BOPP or Mechanical MECH. MECH. MECH.
Self adhesive or In Line YES YES YES
Use of Synchronized Printing NO NO YES
Lateral Tape width 35 25 36
Hook width if used 20 X 35 13 X 25 13 X 36
Lateral Tape total Length 72 60 61
No of Spandex Elastics at Leg per side 2 3 3
No. of Synthetic Rubber at Leg 0 0 0
Waist Elastic Width 33 39 0
Waist Elastic Length 138 145 0
Use of Carrier (Up/Bottom/Full Wrap) Wrapped Upper Wrapped
Carrier Material (Tissue or Nonwoven) Tissue Tissue Nonwoven
Table 1 shows a partial list with each individual component used in the manufacturing of the
diaper with its exact dimensions, these diapers correspond to the Tier 3 in South Africa. You also
need to add a few other elements such as the amount of fluff and SAP in the pad, and the weight
of the elastics, and you will have everything you need. In order to calculate the cost of raw
materials used in the manufacturing multiply each element usage by the corresponding price of
each material and add all the costs.
Table 2 shows reference prices for the most typical raw materials used in the construction of
diapers. The idea is not to use it as an official guide or to create any controversy whether my
suggested references are high or low. Of course the idea is to use fresh or recently updated prices
and also with the exact specification that you need in your diaper construction. Presenting a list
of raw material costs for every single option available in the market is close to impossible.
Prices keep changing all the time. Keep in mind that prices also change according to the
specifications required by each client and by the volume of the order. Assuming you already
have this information as needed by the products you want to evaluate, then it is not hard to have
a good estimate of the cost each sample.
RAW MATERIALS REFERENCE COSTS (Jan 2009) USD
CELULOSE ($/Ton) 810
CARRIER (m2) 0.03
LEG CUFF NONWOVEN PHOBIC ($/M2) 0.03
CENTRAL NONWOVEN PHILIC ($/MT2) 0.04
POLY FILM ($/KG) 2.30
HOT MELT ADHESIVE ($/KG) 2.60
BOPP FASTENING TAPE 54 mm. ($/M2) 0.64
BOPP RELEASE TAPE 48 mm. ($/M2) 0.72
BOPP FRONTAL TAPE ADHESIVE ($/MT2) 0.31
LEG AND CUFF ELASTIC SPANDEX ($/KG) 9.20
WAIST ELASTIC ($/MT2) 0.39
S. A . P. ($/KG) 2.25
CLOTH LIKE BACKSHEET 27 grams ($/M2) 0.08
MECHANICAL FRONTAL LOOP ($/M2) 1.21
MECHANICAL LATERAL HOOK TAPE PRE COMBINED ($/M2) 2.54
MECHANICAL ELASTIC LATERAL HOOK TAPE PRE COMBINED ($/M2) 3.28
ADL ($/M2) 40 gsm 0.14
BOPP FINGER TAB 0.85
Keeping track of the comparative diaper performance of your competitors without keeping track
of their actual costs of production, is like driving at night without your headlights on. You will
end up crashing and it can hurt; you may not lose your life but it is possible you may lose your
Knowing all of the manufacturing costs will keep you very alert not only about any new
technologies recently adopted by the industry but also will help you understand the reasons why
your competitors may be incurring in such changes. An expensive machine upgrade may not
look so expensive anymore once you understand all the implications and consequences. Imagine
you are having hard times to keep up with the performance of your competitors with a low profit,
knowing that they can produce at a lower cost should be enough to keep you awake at night. The
issue is not to lose your sleep, but finding out what needs to be done to enable your survival. If
you do not know, look for an answer, if you cant get it, ask someone who can.
Following my suggested guideline you will know by now which diaper is the best in every one
of the measured dimensions: craftsmanship, absorbent pad system, fastening system, liquid
containment, luxury items, and manufacturing cost. Each one is adding elements to inform you
about its individual quality. How to add all together to find out Who is who in diapers?
Giving the right weight to each dimension is as difficult as trying to find the relative value of
each one of the human virtues. It is part of the art of translating a personal scale of values into an
objective number. Not everyone will agree to use the same numbers, but at least we can all agree
about the specific virtues and defects of each brand against the others.
In my opinion, the quality of craftsmanship is probably the most important of all, any brand that
is sending defects to the market will never survive in the long run. This holds true from any point
of view. From the point of view of the consumer, the next in line is the absorbent system
together with containment, followed by the luxury bells and whistles and the fastening system at
the end (it is already a part of the luxury anyway).
I am a firm believer on consumer testing; for sure this should be always preferred to any
laboratory testing, no matter how fancy the equipment may be. Unfortunately a statistically valid
study with real end users is very expensive and time consuming, at least a few thousand dollars
per brand and probably about a month to finish. Just imagine what it would be if you need to test
10 brands or more, how long would it take you? I think consumer testing is critical and should be
done, but only after you have been able to filter the brands with the best scores.
As a manufacturer, you need to know your strengths and weakness as well as your risks and
opportunities before you can make any suggestions to improve your current diaper design. This
is the first step when you are trying to move into a continuous improvement process.
As a trader you may be a bit intimidated at the large amount of work that is needed in order to
have the full picture about your brand versus your competitors. Lucky for everyone there is a
simpler alternative. Several consultants are available to help you with this task. For example, as
one of the many options, here at Richer Investment we can help the diaper manufacturer with a
professional external quality audit to compare against your own lab (without being the judge and
part). We can also provide you with a matrix of strengths and weakness all under strict signed
confidentiality. There are others too, but few as passionate about diapers as we are.
For more information please contact us at http://www.disposablediaper.net. Bonus: As an
Insight 2009 registered participant you are welcomed to join my exclusive Disposable Diaper
Network at LinkedIn using this link: http://www.linkedin.com/e/gis/136568 (to insure your
immediate acceptance please reply with the message: attended Insight 2009). This site is
restricted only to members actually working for the diaper industry, it has already more than 485
members, all of them diaper industry top executives representing our industry in more than 48
countries worldwide. I hope to see you there!