have opined, “There may be something to this packaging optimization idea.” Do you think? Historically, companies told us that rearranging retail units inside a shipping case is an easy change to absorb; count changes are a big issue, and revising retail units is out of the question. With the intense focus on cost reduction that is part of today’s business world, all options are now on the table at most companies, including changes to the sacred retail unit. Generally, the intent is to revise the shape or size of the retail package while retaining its original weight; for example, the dimensions of a bag of trinkets can be adjusted while its weight is held static. The reality is that the more flexible a company is to adopting change, the greater their cost reduction opportunity. PICK-PACK OPERATIONS E-commerce and mail order businesses that ship a variety of mixed products
face a unique challenge: a reasonably sized company will ship more than one million unique combinations of weight and cube each year. Since parcel shipments are priced on both weight and cube, figuring out the best number and sizes of shipping containers is a daunting task indeed. The easy solution is to select a universal box that can be used for all shipments. This then leads to a flash drive shipping in a carton the size of a breadbox, which is something all of us have experienced. The opposite extreme of hundreds of different boxes is certainly not a practical approach. Thus, most companies we have worked with on this problem settled on half a dozen shipping containers — a solution based on guesswork without any scientific analysis. However, when the shipping case selection is derived through packaging science, freight consideration, and advanced mathematics, results are tangible. This is an example of what we saw one company achieve:
38 PARCELindustry.com SEPTEMBER-OCTOBER 2017
Outbound cartons reduction: 167,000, or five percent of original total Outbound weight reduction: 782,000 pounds, or five percent of original total Dimensional weight reduction: 1.4 million pounds, or seven percent of original total Outbound case cube utilization: improved by 28% Corrugated material reduction: 21% of original total Filler material reduction: 41% of original total Freight cost reduction: five percent of original total When working with some staff engineers at one logistics service provider as we assisted a mutual client, these engineers challenged the optimal solution, which increased shipping cases from 16 to 19. Like many companies, they were trying to use as few shipping containers as possible in the mistaken belief that fewer is always better.