03 August 2015 //
by Jim Campbell
Business travelers can attest that petroleum prices may fluctuate, but the number of passengers on an airplane still only goes in one direction: up. What drives this practice? Efficiency. The goal is obvious: amortize fixed transportation costs as best as possible. This same practice is used when it comes to utilizing truck cargo space for goods that need to make their way from manufacturing to retail.
The Challenge: Distribution Efficiency
The need to distribute goods while simultaneously searching for efficiencies is a natural thought. However, implementing the process can be challenging.
Efficiency becomes more complicated in industries with dissimilar products. For the sake of this article, we’re focusing on goods not bound by interstate weight limits. The point being, the folks shipping 60-foot bridge girders have different obstacles to overcome than those distributing consumer goods. Potential efficiency challenges include, but are not limited to, the shipment of “air” throughout the distribution process.
Shrink-Bundling Provides More Bang Per Gallon
Eliminating the shipping of “air” to achieve the densest load possible is a tried-and-true method for increasing distribution efficiency. While corrugate shippers have their place in the packaging world, manufacturers of products with varying densities and volumes can realize significant cost savings when they switch to shrink-bundling. This is because they are able to achieve maximum space utilization compared to the wasted space (a.k.a. shipping “air”) that occurs when product is packed into corrugate cases.
The following are two examples of how a food container manufacturer and herb processor were able to get more for their distribution budget through solutions EDL Packaging Engineers provided.
EDL recently helped a food container manufacturer replace its manual process of bagging and packing foam plates into a corrugated case with a tight-wrapping process. The foam-plate manufacturing process can fluctuate, so the actual pack size varied and the corrugate cases were sized to accommodate the largest possible pack volume. In addition, because the cases were being hand-bagged and packed in order to achieve the proper orientation, the boxes were 10-15% larger than the product.
By switching to an automated packaging process, the manufacturer was able to orientate the product in a way that was not achievable manually. Together, the nesting characteristics of plates and the tight wrap bundle created a tighter pack size and therefore increased the trailer’s load density. As a result, this manufacturer was able to reduce what would have been 5 truckloads down to 4 truckloads – a 20% reduction in shipping costs.
A second example of a processor that achieved transportation savings with EDL’s help is a company that packs herbs into glass bottles. Originally this company case-packed them in 12-pack corrugate trays with dividers. We helped them reduce their freight weight and volume by tight-wrapping the glass bottles into 6-packs and eliminating the corrugate and dividers altogether. By creating smaller, tighter packs, the bottles were still protected from vibrations and the manufacturer was able to eliminate inches off every pallet that would have otherwise been wasted by the trays and dividers.
A Continuous Process
The goal of developing the most efficient distribution process is never-ending. The best place to start is by understanding the most efficient way to fill your truck. Once you have that figured out, you can then look for creative ways to improve your packing methods. EDL has collaborated with a variety of organizations and brought forward industry-changing ideas with equipment tailored to achieve the best possible pack size that produces logistics savings.
Could our expertise lend itself to your business? Contact us today to find out.