May 7, 2024

When products are being packaged for transit, choosing the right-size box is often overlooked in many warehouse facilities. However, oversized boxes can lead to several repercussions: from product damages in transit to wasted packaging materials and more, ultimately making a negative impact on your bottom line. In this article, we’ll discuss why and how oversized boxes are negatively affecting your business and why a right-sized box is the perfect protective packaging to save you money and save the planet. 

Protection in Transit

The reason that a right-sized box is the perfect protection is fairly straightforward: A perfectly fit box prevents internal collisions of products against the sides of the box and absorbs some of the shock, vibrations, and drops. A right-sized box also helps hold the shape of the product inside the box. Even simple movements of the product from your facility to a truck, if done in an oversized box, will adjust the position of contents inside the box and can damage fragile products.  

No one can totally guarantee the handling of the box as it moves from your facility to your customer’s location unless being moved by your own personnel. Some boxes may be thrown around and/or dropped in transit. There are vibrations, sometimes violent, that the box endures throughout the journey.  

More sophisticated companies will test their packaging according to ISTA standards (International Safe Transit Association). Depending on the product’s dimensions, weight, shipment method (parcel, LTL, etc.), and other factors, packaging can be tested and certified by independent laboratories. What is learned about how to package the product during this process can minimize damage to the product in transit.  

The process of testing, improving packaging practices and eventually certifying your packaging methods to provide the best protection can be time well-spent. The cost to go through this process can vary depending on the intensity and success of testing and the verification process with a certified ISTA Lab. The verification work can cost thousands of dollars, but may be worth the spend to ensure a well-protected stream of products shipping from your facility.

Ensuring the protection of your product can become even more complex when there is more than one product in the box. During transportation, multiple products may not only collide with the sides of the box, but also with each other. In these cases, adding dunnage or extra packaging to the individual items in the box may be necessary and - you guessed it - can also become a per package variable cost.

Right-Size Box Advantages

Customer Experience

Many companies use a right-sized packaging process for their products because it provides a better customer “unboxing” experience (e.g. limiting damage). Right-sizing also reduces shipping costs, by cutting down on DIM weight expenses and optimizing space on trucks. All of us have received packages where the box was bigger than the product being shipped. Customers are left wondering why there was so much wasted space as well as the hassle of disposing of the dunnage used in addition to the larger box.  This “unboxing” experience is important to companies. 

Cost Savings

Let's look at the added freight expense first. By shipping boxes that are too big for their contents, companies pay for shipping air - an unneeded and large expense. We’ve found that companies are shipping boxes that are 40% oversized on average - meaning there is a real opportunity for savings by simply reducing the size of the box to be the same size as its contents.

Many companies attempt to address product protection by adding dunnage (crushed paper, air pillows, or other material) around the product(s) when placed in an oversized box. This adds time to the packaging process, as well as material cost, and isn’t always effective. By making a right-sized box for the product, companies can eliminate up to 50% of dunnage used.

Additional Considerations

There are a few other things to think about when ensuring a right-sized box for every package. One is the consistency of the product dimensions. If every package is exactly the same size, companies will buy pallets of flattened boxes with their exact product dimensions. While this may work for some, most companies require many different size packages which means many different pallets of flattened boxes.  This adds complexity to packaging because in order to bring costs down for each box, volume purchases are required. Eventually, a company’s warehouse can become littered with pallets of varied sized boxes.  This may work for some, however, most companies prefer to use their warehouse space for production or to store their raw and/or finished goods.

An Approach to Right-Sized Packaging

One popular way to incorporate right-sized boxes into a packaging process is to place a custom box-making machine directly into the packaging area. This is a machine that cuts and creases the corrugated material to the exact dimensions of the product.  

How does this work? First, the machine needs a supply of corrugated material to use as it makes boxes.   The corrugated material is stored in bales of z-Fold ® (sometimes called fanfold). The z-Fold ® bale contains corrugated material stacked in one continuous length folded back and forth to fit onto a pallet to 42’ in height. Then the leading edge of the material is fed into the machine that cuts and creases the raw corrugated material into a box blank of the size specified.  

Some machines automate even more of the box-making process. For example, there are automations that glue the edges of the box together, erect it, put product(s) inside, seal it shut, and even place a shipping label on the box as it is conveyed to the shipping area of the facility.

Using a “cut-and-crease” machine like those mentioned above, a company can clear out all of the pallets of variable-sized, flattened, pre-made boxes in favor of a few pallets of z-Fold ® corrugated material of different widths. Typically, companies save space on their warehouse floor by using this strategy. Further, right-sized boxes don’t get lost in the company’s facility. The right-sized box is available from the cut-and-crease machine as they’re produced at speeds of roughly three boxes per minute or faster.

TL/DR: Right-Sized Packaging Approaches Summarized

A right-sized box helps to cost-effectively protect your product while in transit. And there are two ways to utilize these boxes:

  1. Purchase pallets of pre-made flattened boxes to reduce costs of each box or
  2. Utilize a cut-and-crease machine with a few pallets of z-Fold ® material to make custom boxes for each shipment

To learn more about how to implement right-sized packaging in your warehouse, and start saving money and resources, reach out to a Packsize representative today.

Ari Hunsaker, MBA CSPO

Product Manager at Packsize

Ari is a product manager at Packsize and has a passion for data analysis, user experience, product design, agile / scrum development and building partnerships with key clients.

He has more than 20 years of experience in the global hardware and software industries. His background enables him to provide deep insights into launching and maintaining technology products.

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