October 12, 2022
October 12, 2022
As consumers, it’s likely that most of us have received a package after ordering a product online that gave a telltale clunk when picked up—the sound of a product moving in a box much too big for it, with void fill material valiantly trying to fight the effects of gravity (and sometimes failing).
Brands know that their consumers care about packaging, and right sized packaging for consumer packaged goods is a topic of its own that also incorporates printing and design to create the perfect impression for unboxing. That’s why is makes no sense to treat the box that holds a product so much better than the first one that e-commerce customers will see protecting their purchases, coming to their homes from a warehouse or fulfilment centers.
Making a good impression means delivering a package that protects products, is easily recycled, and is right sized, matching exterior packaging to the size of the objects being shipped. Aside from customer expectations, there are several good reasons why right sized packaging at the end-of-line should be an important consideration for all businesses shipping to end-consumers.
Right sized packaging refers to packaging that is fitted to the product it contains, where excess materials are removed and only the containers and material required for safety in transit are used. It’s a simple concept that requires knowledge of the range of products being shipped from a location. Once an accurate picture of what’s being shipped has been created, appropriate packaging can be stocked and kept ready for each individual order.
Right sizing packaging is a win for businesses, consumers, and the environment. Each has a stake in packaging, and we all have a stake in preserving the planet for future generations. By right sizing packaging during logistics, e-commerce businesses can enjoy multiple benefits.
When considering how to reduce shipping costs, it’s common to start by thinking about materials. However, materials costs only account for 20% of the total cost of shipping. While the choice of materials is still important, especially viewed through the lens of sustainability, there are other areas of focus that should be considered that make a big impact on bottom line.
Dim weight, short for dimensional weight, is a calculation for measuring the price of shipping a box that is now used by many logistics companies. It incorporates both the weight of the box, as well as the volume, meaning that a small, heavy item in a large exterior box is now that much more expensive to ship. By right sizing packaging to eliminate as much void as possible, businesses pay to ship their products, not boxes full of wasted space.
Wasted space in a shipping box represents more than just wasted money-it’s also bad for the environment. When a box is significantly larger than the products it contains, it creates the possibility of several negative environmental outcomes, including packaging waste.
By right sizing packaging, the need for additional void fill or cushioning to protect products is also reduced. This is particularly relevant when it comes to reducing plastic single-use packaging materials, such as air pillows. Globally, only 9% of plastic waste is recycled, while 22% is mismanaged. Because plastic films and foams commonly used within cushioning and void fill applications are not recyclable outside of specialized recycling facilities, their fate is usually to be landfilled or incinerated, assuming that they are disposed of and collected at the curb and not discarded directly into the environment.
While sustainable alternatives to plastic void fill exist, by right sizing shipping boxes, materials can be conserved with less overall waste created. Ideally, both sustainable packaging materials can be used for cushioning and void fill along with automated package right sizing.
Boxes that take up more space than necessary will fill up transports faster than right sized boxes, and because of this, more trucks are required to move the same number of products. More fuel is required to keep fleets moving, which contributes to an increase in greenhouse gas emissions as well as more logistics costs. As a counterexample, by right sizing boxes with automated height reduction, it’s possible to conserve up to 25% of space on a pallet, potentially keeping one in four delivery trucks off the road.
Is matching a product with the correct box size more difficult than taking a “one size fits all” approach? It does not have to be. Packaging automation offers the opportunity to remove the labor involved with height reduction or assembly of fitted containers. By using computer vision, an automated solution like the Cut’it! EVO can identify the point of highest filling within a box and then cut and seal flaps at the correct height.
Not only does this eliminate and streamline a repetitive and potentially straining part of the packing job, it also allows goods to be picked and placed directly into their final shipping boxes. This removes the need to place goods into temporary containers to then be placed in manually adjusted boxes.