A successful peak relies on efficiency throughout the order fulfilment process, from picking and packing right through to delivery to the customer’s door.

We’ve already looked at the importance of choosing the right packaging materials for packing awkward and fragile items and tips on how to plan for a successful peak, but all that previous effort could go to waste if you don’t also consider cube optimisation.

From our experience of working with customers and sifting through and testing products, ideas and technology, we have identified five points that will help you to optimise your cube in order to maximise efficiency with regard to your delivery schedule, costs and environmental impact.

Why cube optimisation is important

Cube optimisation is all about reducing void and maximizing the amount of product on a pallet. It sounds easy, but getting it right can be challenging, particularly for businesses that are shipping parcels with a mixture of shapes and weights.

The obvious route might be to use a one-size fits all carton, which will ensure pallets can be neatly stacked to consistent dimensions. That’s fine if everything going into the cartons is the same size, but for businesses packing products of different shapes and sizes it will result in a host of inefficiencies, including use of more void fill than is necessary, greater likelihood of cartons and products being crushed or damaged in transit, fewer packages per vehicle so more vehicles are needed, leading to delivery delays and a poor carbon footprint.

The challenge of cube optimisation lies in getting the right balance between all the variables, such as pack weight and dimension and the compression strength of packages. It’s a bit like an intricate 3D jigsaw puzzle in which weight is an added complication. But it is worth taking the time to get it right because more packs on a pallet means more packs fit on the truck, which can bring valuable reductions in transport costs; it can also help improve efficiency on the warehouse floor thanks to fewer pallets taking up useful working space.

Here are five key points to bear in mind when tackling cube optimisation.

5 tips to optimise your cube for efficient transportation

1.Avoid pallet overhang
Neatly stacked pallets with even edges can be loaded side by side. But it only takes one parcel overhanging a pallet to jeopardise load efficiency that could result in an entire pallet being left of a vehicle.

2.Use less packaging
Using less packaging, particularly bulky void fill and cushioning, means smaller cartons can be used and so more cartons can be loaded onto a pallet. There are lots of packaging options available that provide excellent protection without the need for lots of materials. Retention and suspension packaging, for example, not only eliminate the need for void fill and cushioning, reducing weight and space, they also look good and minimise the amount of waste the end customer has to dispose of.

3.Right size packaging
Depending upon the products being packed, machinery that automatically matches the box size to the contents can improve speed and efficiency as well as save money. After measuring the height of the box contents (placed manually), the box is folded to size before gluing the upper flaps to seal it. The resulting boxes can be neatly stacked.

4.Geometry
Once cartons are sealed, they need to be stacked on the pallet. When boxes of different shapes, sizes and weights are involved, it’s important to have a clear approach to ensure that there is no overhang, that there are no gaps between cartons, and that lighter boxes are not being crushed by heavier ones.

5.Pallet boxes
For businesses involved in the storage and transportation of bulk products, pallet boxes are ideal. They are economical in terms of space and are sturdy enough to sustain heavy loads. Supplied collapsed flat with an integral pallet, they unfold to create a cap, sleeve and tray, so there’s no need to mess around with lots of separate boxes.

If you would like some first-hand, expert advice about how to best optimise your cube in time for peak, contact our experts today.