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Considering the overall supply chain when making packaging decisions will help to reduce costs. Evaluating how packaging moves across the entire supply chain will help you to design structurally sound packaging supplies that will eventually save money for the end user. In addition, the right packaging can eliminate inefficiencies such as empty spaces within packages and between packages on pallets and containers. The recipe for successful packaging optimization involves a ten-step process:

1. Do Your Homework

Although many products have consistent packages, learning about the product during the package redesignphase will lead to customer relationship and quality performance benefits. With the product in mind, packaging redesign considers branding along with the traditional concepts of protection and storage. An eye towards branding influences design and adds value to packaging through colors, logos, and shelf-ready materials. 

For example, many companies ship beverages from one location to another. But few companies take the additional time to examine the bottle shape or the amount of pressure that a beverage may produce through carbonation.  

2. Chat With Customers

Consumers certainly expect durability and appreciate cost-savings in product packaging. Along with durability, though, consumers also desire ease-of-use. A manufacturer may conclude that reshaping milk containers will allow more containers per pallet. Senior citizens, however, may view the redesigned package as a problem because of their inability to grip the container.

3. Check Your Measurements

Shipping costs occur in relation to dimension. Adjusting the length, width, and depth of the package to fit the shipping needs of the product, to efficiently utilize space within the package, and to place the desired number of packages on a pallet saves cost.

Knowing the weight of a product allows the redesign of a package to ensure that the density of the packaging materials provides enough support and protection for the package contents. A weight measurement also becomes especially valuable when considering other factors such as customer needs. For example, packaging supplies for ceiling fans should have the density to protect the motor as well as decorative glass covers.

4. Grab a Calculator 

During early 2017, both FedEx and UPS changed their criteria for measuring dimensional weight. For FedEx, the dimensional weight divisor applies to all packages shipped within the United States. For UPS, the 139 divisor applies to all packages that measure one cubic foot in dimensional size. Packages with a dimensional weight of less than one cubic foot have a dimensional weight divisor of 166. Dividing the cubic dimensions of the package by the divisor gives the dimensional weight. Because dimensional weight differs from actual weight, a package that has a higher dimensional weight may have a higher shipping cost than a smaller dimensional weight package that has the same actual weight.

5. Composite vs. Wood

Certainly, the use of wood crates for shipping produce may provide the best production. However, the cumulative weight of the wood crates stacked on a pallet will push product shipping and consumer costs higher. The use of new lightweight composite materials can provide the same level of protection while reducing the package weight. 

6. Less is More

Using the same type of composite materials can reduce the length, width, depth, actual weight, and dimensional weight of a package. Molded packing components can provide the strength and durability needed to protect fragile contents while decreasing the need for a larger package. In addition, some products may have the inherent frame support to reduce the need for packing materials.

7. To Stack or Not to Stack

A careful review of stacking specifications during the packaging design phase can lead to greater pallet efficiency. Optimizing the package design to decrease the overall dimensions of the package provides the capability to stack more packages per pallet. At the same time, a review of stacking specifications may reduce the possibilities for damaging packages through over stacking.

8. Brace For Impact

ISTA certified testing of packages allows design teams to minimize the possibilities of bursting, edge crush, compression, shock, and vibration on the contents of a package. Testing the durability of packages also extends to measuring the survivability of packages in wet, cold, hot, and humid environments, as well as environments that cycle through various conditions.

Gaining the capability to ship more products in the same carton or on the same pallet lowers transportation and warehouse costs. Greater cost-efficiencies also occur by reducing the man-hours needed to off-load containers. Moreover, the use of benchmark measures during the package testing saves valuable time for customers. Redesigning your packaging supplies can also improve sustainability for the customer and supply chain by using materials that reduce waste and decrease energy use.

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About Michael Wilson

Michael Wilson is AFFLINK'S Vice President of Marketing and Communications. He has been with the organization since 2005 and provides strategic leadership for the entire supply chain team. In his free time, Michael enjoys working with the Wounded Warrior Project, fishing, and improving his cooking skills.

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