October 2013 | How-To | Ten Tips

Leveraging Packaging-On-Demand Solutions

Tags: Packaging

Packaging-on-demand solutions enable businesses to create cardboard boxes from bulk corrugated material in a variety of sizes—saving inventory space, and packaging and labor costs. Lance Wallin, executive director of global packaging systems for packaging solutions provider Sealed Air's Protective Packaging Division, offers these tips for using packaging-on-demand solutions efficiently.

1. Select systems that can accommodate growth plans. Consider planned product volume increases, and choose a system capable of handling those volumes or adapting easily once volume grows.

2. Look for user-friendly packaging systems. Seamless implementation requires that operators fully understand how to run the system effectively. Easy-to-understand user interfaces minimize operating errors, and solutions providers that assist in training operators during installation and startup can reduce the learning curve and help businesses realize faster operational efficiency gains.

3. Determine your current total packaging costs. Review all factors that contribute to your organization's existing packaging costs, then analyze this information to develop a baseline for measuring the return on investment a packaging-on-demand system can deliver for your business.

4. Identify the best materials for protecting your products. Packaging's most important function is protecting the goods being shipped or stored. Test products' susceptibility to vibration, shock, and surface damage to determine the best-performing material.

5. Determine if centralized or decentralized packaging is best for your business. Shippers moving more than 500 packages per day usually benefit more from centralized packaging—in which each worker is assigned a single packaging task—than lower-volume shippers. Decentralized packaging systems—in which one worker is responsible for a shipment's entire packaging process—offer greater personalization and customization, and are more efficient forcompanies shipping high-value or fragile products.

6. Review your organization's sustainability objectives. Select packaging that adequately protects products, thus preventing damage and the resulting increase in carbon footprint due to returns and re-shipments. Also consider packaging materials made from renewable or recyclable materials.

7. Examine available physical space. Ensure your facility's existing space will accommodate the packaging-on-demand system for the materials your products require.

8. Decide if you can batch cushioning or void-fill. Can you help manage peak production needs by producing cushioning or void-fill in advance? This will help maintain the production line's flow, and avoid packaging bottlenecks when product volume is at its highest.

9. Consider operational efficiency challenges. Is your existing packaging process causing operational bottlenecks? Can space currently devoted to storing or handling pre-fabricated packaging be repurposed to help solve efficiency challenges elsewhere within the operation?

10. Partner with a packaging solutions provider that offers responsive service. The unique operational characteristics of individual facilities or product lines may require fine-tuning packaging-on-demand systems to maximize efficiency, so choose a provider that offers excellent customer service.