Thursday, February 13, 2014

Back to the Basics: Case Efficiency & Dimensional Weight

By Sean Tansey

Improving case efficiency – that is, the ratio of product volume to the volume of the shipping container – is one of the primary goals of a packaging engineer. We are always trying to find new and better ways to utilize space and the reason is simple: Wasted space is wasted money.

Recently, our team of packaging consultants in Minneapolis received a shipment of kitchen supplies from Staples and I couldn't help but notice how the package was wasteful and inefficient. Here, see for yourself...

chainalytics dimensional weight packaging consulting

It’s been more than a year since Staples and PackSize announced their partnership to deliver the “smallest possible box.” But, it looks like this one may have slipped through a crack. (For the record, I double checked our order, and we did not purchase the air pillows!)

To see how much this particular crack cost Staples, our team did a quick analysis. Here’s what we found:
  • The RSC measured 18⅛ x 13⅛ x 12½ and weighed 7.25 lbs with the product. 
  • Comparing the product’s volume to the volume of the RSC, it turns out the case efficiency is only 17%. 
  • Using our dimensional weight calculator, we calculated the dimensional weight to be 21 lbs. That means if Staples had shipped the package via air, they would've paid about $14 to ship 13.75 lbs of non-existent product. (For a dim-weight overview, check out this quick read.)
We then wanted to see how much money Staples could have saved with a more efficient box. Our analysis found that the product fit best in a shipping container dimensioned 10¼ x 10¼ x 6½, making the dimensional weight only 5 lbs.

Using the smallest possible box, we estimate the savings to be about $1-2 in ground freight and materials. Considering Staples ships thousands of orders each day, you can see how the savings and sustainable impact quickly add up.

Do you think many packages slip through the cracks for the world’s largest office products company? Yeah, you’re probably right.

Staples, please drop us a line at +1 (612) 252-1830 if there is anything we can do to help.

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