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For Packaging Efficiency, Less Waste and Lower Cost, Distribution Centers Should Consider Using More Boxes

It may be counter intuitive but often using more boxes for shipping materials from the distribution center or warehouse can actually reduce waste and lower costs. Jack Ampuja shows how it's done.

(Boonton, NJ, June 10, 2010) — As part of his efforts to make DCs more efficient, Jack Ampuja keeps an informal Packaging Hall of Shame.

One company was inducted after sending a package that contained two pairs of socks and four air bags. Why, Ampuja wonders, did the packer feel compelled to protect socks from damage? The cargo was in no danger of breaking during shipping. And why ship a package with so much wasted space?

In the June issue of industry newsletter, Distribution Center Management, Ampuja, president of Supply Chain Optimizers, cautions that shipping items in overly large boxes creates a number of problems. For starters, you're paying for cardboard you don't need, then adding unnecessary filler. You're also boosting transportation costs by failing to maximize truck space.

To combat packaging waste Ampuja recommends four steps including adding more boxes.

Half a dozen boxes is a typical number of choices at a DC, but not for any scientific reason. Increase that number to 10 or 12, and you'll likely increase efficiency without adding excessive complexity.

But don't go box-crazy. Ampuja recalls visiting a DC that was very proud that it used 42 boxes to ship packages. But when Ampuja studied the company's use of boxes, he learned that half a dozen boxes were used in 92 percent of shipments, suggesting that the other 36 types of boxes were unnecessary.

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For more than 40 years, Distribution Group publications have helped distribution center and warehouse managers increase productivity, cut costs, and meet increasing customer demands. Distribution Group publishes Distribution Center Management newsletter, books and reports, and a free e-newsletter.

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