Optimizing Packaging for Increased Shipping Efficiency

Inefficient packaging is an often-overlooked issue in the shipping process, but it can seriously undermine its profitability.

Inefficient packaging is an often-overlooked issue in the shipping process, but it can seriously undermine its profitability.

As consumers, we’ve all experienced the thrill of opening a large package and the disappointment of finding it filled with more air pillows or packing peanuts than actual products. While such a packing strategy makes sense when shipping fragile items, it’s always frustrating for the consumer, and it’s often uneconomical for the shipper.

Unfortunately, packaging protocols are little more than an afterthought for most companies. As a result, inefficient packaging continues to plague the shipping industry, generating easily avoidable expenses and creating excessive waste. With a few simple adjustments, however, shippers can take substantive steps toward optimizing their packaging processes, making their operations more environmentally friendly while cementing a significant advantage over their less-efficient competitors. We’ll outline some of the benefits of more efficient packaging here.

Cutting Costs with Efficient Packaging

Packaging is an easily overlooked process, but it can contribute dramatically to a company’s profitability. While the impact of consolidating products into a single box might seem insignificant on an individual basis, the practice spread across thousands of shipments can add up to serious cost-savings.

In recent years, carriers have begun offering an even greater incentive to package their products as efficiently as possible, known as “dimensional pricing.” Instead of charging companies according to weight and distance traveled, some carriers are now charging them according to class-based dimensional weight (dim weight) measurements.

This shift in pricing places a premium on packaging efficiency. Under the dim weight system, a 12” x 12” x 12” box receives a 10.4 class rating (1,728 cubic inches divided by a standard factor of 166), which is rounded up and billed as an 11 pound package. A 24” x 24” x 24” box, on the other hand, receives an 83.3 class rating (13,824 cubic inches divided by 166), which is rounded up and billed as an 84 pound package. While the cost of freight for these packages would be roughly equal under the old system if they contain an identical product, the larger package will be billed at an exponentially higher rate according to the dim weight system.

Better Packaging Means a Better Environment

Just as importantly, inefficient packaging makes a shipping program less sustainable. Most obviously, oversized boxes require more cardboard and plastic fillers, both of which can expand a company’s carbon footprint. In addition, inefficient packaging forces shippers to use more trucks, ships, or planes than necessary.

Since a truck, for example, has a finite amount of space for shipments, it can’t carry any more freight once that space is completely filled — even if the actual load is significantly underweight. In other words, poor packaging alone can lead to two trucks being used to carry a shipment of goods that could have been carried by a single truck if packaged properly. Reducing the number of containers used in your shipments lessens the need for trucks, lowering traffic, greenhouse gas emissions and fuel consumption in the process — not to mention boosting cost-savings in the process.

Choosing the Right Supply Chain Logistics Partner

In order to take advantage of dimensional pricing, companies should take a number of steps to improve their packaging efficiency, including downsizing their packages, refining their employee training around right-sizing boxes, and using polyethylene bags where appropriate.

They should also consider working with an experienced shipping and logistics partner like Primary Freight to optimize their packing, shipping, and distribution operations. With nearly two decades of experience in supply chain logistics, Primary Freight has the expertise necessary to help companies improve their packing efficiency — or even to do it for them. We have the expertise, resources, and network necessary to ensure that each and every one of our clients’ shipments are executed as efficiently as possible.

If you’d like to learn more about how Primary Freight can help optimize your warehousing, packaging, and distribution operations, give us a call at (800) 635-0013 today.