When you’re in the thick of managing a busy packaging and logistics operation – coping with the seasonal peaks in demand, managing staff, handling new products that challenge your existing set-up, and so on – keeping on top of your packaging costs, too, can sometimes feel like an impossible task. However, taking the time to review your packaging process on a regular basis can pay real dividends.
Start by scheduling a regular, end to end review of your packaging process; depending on the nature of your business, this might need to be anything from annually to weekly. Once you sit down and start thinking about it, you’ll get a sense of what sort of frequency works best for you. Map out every touchpoint of your packaging process, from the moment the item is picked off the warehouse shelf, right up until the customer takes it out of its box. It’s also important to consider how the packaging is reused for returns, recycled or disposed of.
Looking at each touchpoint in detail will reveal where you could become more time, material and cost efficient. Here are four key areas that can be useful to focus on, but you might find others once you have mapped out your process:
- Look at how and where your packaging is stored
How and where you are storing your packaging materials can have a real impact on the efficiency of your packaging operations, and your costs. Of course, when you are trying to plan for business growth, seasonal peaks in demand, discounted buying, it can be difficult to find a perfect solution, but look closely and there may still be opportunities for you to save:
- Consider whether you are storing more packaging than you need. It could be that any savings you are making through buying in bulk are being cancelled out by the cost of storing it.
- Using more packaging materials than is necessary can exacerbate your storage situation and add to costs. Rationalising packaging can really help to reduce your storage costs and optimise warehouse space.
- Some packaging products are bulky to store and take up valuable warehouse space. Explore what other packaging products are available that will achieve the same results but take up less space, such as on-demand, inflatable void fill and cushioning instead of bubble wrap. Chances are that they will also be easier for your packing staff to use, further speeding up the packaging process and reducing the cost per pack.
- Too much, too little or the wrong kind of packaging materials
Taking time to review the packaging materials you are currently using, exploring what other materials may have come on to the market, and assessing the workflow of your packaging staff, may reveal some surprising cost-saving opportunities.
Using too much packaging can lead to all sorts of issues, besides where to store it all. Using more packaging than is necessary will cost you in money, time and efficiency and, potentially, reputation.
Going the other way and skimping on packaging or using ill-suited packaging will also cause problems. While it can be tempting to reduce packaging costs by buying cheaper materials, what you might save in packaging costs upfront will probably cost you further down the line by way of goods arriving damaged because of torn, broken and unsuitable packaging. For example, high performance stretch film to wrap pallets may cost you a little more, but each roll goes further than standard stretch film, and it is more effective.
- Wrapping: sometimes machinery can do it better
While doing things by hand can sometimes achieve better results, particularly when packing delicate or fragile items, when it comes to wrapping pallets, you can’t beat machine power. Even if you are already using a pallet wrapping machine, you may not be getting the best results if the equipment you have is past its best, or not quite suited to the size and nature of your pallet loads. Incorporating a review of your wrapping, including any existing equipment, may yield further cost –saving opportunities, as one Antalis customer discovered.
- Don’t overlook the delivery
Any review of your packaging process should also include your outbound deliveries. Problems with damaged or lost goods, and/or transport costs, can often be addressed if appropriate consideration is given to the packaging. Using packaging more efficiently, and incorporating machinery such as BoxSizer – which reduces both the volume of random packaged goods and the amount of packaging required –can lead to better optimisation of truck space and lighter packaging, all of which can contribute to further cost reductions in terms of transport and courier costs.