Shipping products the right way in the right carton and arranged correctly on the pallet can have significant benefits to a company's supply chain. "Packaging affects warehousing, material handling, and freight," said Jack Ampuja, a consultant with Supply Chain Optimizers and the executive director of the Center for Supply Chain Excellence at Niagara University.
Ampuja spoke to WERC members about packaging optimization at the association's annual conference. He said that packaging is typically determined by marketing departments with little regard to how it can affect costs in the supply chain. Too often cartons are shipped with too much air. Ampuja said that companies typically use only 65 percent of the cube of a carton. The remainder is air and filler. He recommends that companies increase the number of carton sizes they employ to better fit the products inside.
Once filled, the cartons are not always stacked in the best possible arrangement on a pallet to take advantage of all the cube the pallet offers. And the loads are also not always designed to cube a truck to allow for maximum shipping volumes. He said that even changing the dimensions of a box can save companies huge amounts of money by allowing more cartons to stack per pallet and more cartons per truck. He said if optimized, packaging can save companies ten percent or more of their total logistics costs by reducing fuel, materials, filler, and handling. On top of those savings, good optimization has green benefits as well, Ampuja says.