Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Packaging Health Assessment: 5 Supply Chain Changes That Will Test Your Packaging Workout

by Rob Kaszubowski, CPP

Fall is finally here, which means football season is officially underway. The first few weeks of the season determine whether all the hard work during the off-season has paid off. Players and coaches often question and second-guess their off-season decisions:  Did I choose the right off-season workout? Did I work with the right trainer? Was my workout challenging enough? Well, here in Minneapolis, we know that our 1-4 Vikings are definitely doing some self-reflection and second-guessing of their own.

At Chainalytics, we’re also gearing up for the season by helping our clients assess their packaging health. Every company has a different off-season and it is important to check your packaging workout to see if it can hold up against the gruel of a long distribution channel. The pace of today’s business environment is growing faster and faster, which means products (and their packaging) are oftentimes pushed through the development cycle without being fully optimized for the current supply chain.

Here are five supply chain areas that if changed may prompt a new off-season workout plan:
  1. Logistics or distribution channel process:  A new handling method at the DC (fork truck vs. clamp truck vs. manual handling) may exert different forces and create new potential hazards for your packaged product. This can also happen when you move from traditional GMA pallets to slip sheets. Oftentimes this new process requires different handling equipment and transportation methods.
  2. Manufacturing, distribution, or retail locations:  Adding or removing a node in your manufacturing and distribution network changes the distance your product must travel to reach your customer and the amount of packaging needed to adequately protect it.
  3. Raw materials:  Like #2 above, if one of the main raw materials in your product has changed, it could change the level of strength and protection needed in your primary and secondary packaging materials.
  4. Product design changes:  Seemingly minor changes to the product design -- think increasing the thickness of a material or adding a stability bracket -- may allow you to decrease your packaging requirements.
  5. Transportation mode shift:  Moving from truckload (TL) to LTL (less-than-truckload), or from LTL to small parcel means significantly different handling methods and hazards.  A change to a harsher transport mode may mean your product is under-packaged, and more likely to see damage. A change to a more forgiving one may mean you are over-packaging your product and leaving money on the table. 
These are just a few of the areas that Chainalytics’ packaging engineers check when identifying cost savings opportunities -- packaging optimization and damage avoidance. If any of these sound familar, it may be time to call your personal trainer…err, packaging engineer, to make sure your packaging is optimized for the season ahead.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this blog! I've been looking into packaging in Denver, CO and this really helped me out.


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